Just to be clear from the beginning of this guide, Whole Whale is not directly affiliated or funded by AmeriCorps (though there are alumni on our staff), but we ARE huge fans of the program. As an independent agency of the Government, their work engages over 5 million people in service across AmeriCorps VISTA, AmeriCorps NCCC, AmeriCorps State and National, and AmeriCorps Seniors.
AmeriCorps offer amazing training for new members before they embark on their service journeys, their online course catalog covers an amazing breadth of content. However, over the past two years of the pandemic, there has been a massive shift to digital outreach that nonprofits now rely on to increase impact. These nonprofits then, in turn, have begun to need digital marketing/analytics/content and other digital-first work done by staff and AmeriCorps members.
Whole Whale has over a decade of experience as a nonprofit-focused digital marketing agency and has developed a robust digital training program through WholeWhale.com/university. When a volunteer or new employee jumps into a new role that requests digital expertise, there is a natural learning curve that must be climbed.
Ahhh, I was just thrown into a digital role and I don’t know where to start
Regardless of whether you’re a volunteer, new hire, AmeriCorps member, or anywhere in between, it can be stressful and confusing to figure out where to start.
So here is a 7 step road map to get started:
- Find and study the data
- Google Analytics for web traffic
- Email database CRM
- Donor database
- Other program/services data
- Course: Understanding Google Analytics
- Establish digital goals
- Review why they have a website/online comms
- Ask or establish what the 3 key digital goals are for the year
- Connect the digital work with the business goals
- Free: Why do you have a website and digital goals
- Course: Build organizational dashboards with Google Data Studio
- Put out any fires
- This step might need to come first depending on the type of fire…
- Are donation forms working?
- Are intake webforms working?
- Are emails being sent?
- Consider the digital cybersecurity course to make sure the organization is inoculated from the most common (and damaging hacks)
- Start at the top of the marketing funnel (steal this chart)
Begin with work that will increase traffic and the digital footprint of the organization starting at the top of the funnel. Steal this chart and use it to frame where your digital work/investments are going.
- Plan for two sources of traffic: stuff you pay for (ads), stuff you earn (social/referral/SEO). Hint: SEO will be the best value over time followed by the Google Ad Grant.
- Free: Resource on digital marketing funnel for nonprofits
- Free: content marketing for nonprofits
- Course: SEO and Content Creation for nonprofits
- Turn on or tune-up the Google Ad Grant
- The Google Ad Grant gives $10k per month in free search ads and only about 10% of nonprofits are maximizing this asset.
- Free resource for Google Ad Grants
- Free Ad Grant course from Google
- How to run and maximize the Ad Grant like an agency
- Establish the digital communications drumbeat across email and social media
- This is where the ongoing work will be to create a content calendar and process to create the type of content that will accomplish the digital goals.
- There will be a temptation to spend 90% of time on social media, consider investing more heavily in good written content on the website that will drive search traffic over time.
- Free guide and tools for creating multimedia content
- Course: Social media marketing for nonprofit organizations
- Email marketing courses
- Work down the digital marketing funnel as the end-of-year approaches
- Depending on where you are in the year, focus on the types of work that will convert donors at the end of the year.
- Focus on the types of work that will build the list of emails/followers the nonprofit has earlier in the year.
- Free: Ultimate guide for digital fundraising
- Course: Online Fundraising Essentials
What’s in it for you?
Stipends are fun but what about a future career? By focusing on the training and strategy to make the organization’s digital numbers go up, you will be in a better position for future employment opportunities. What’s also nice is that by understanding the data, you’ll be able to make the case for ROI of continued digital work (assuming it is working :).
Many of the resources on WholeWhale.com are free (like rainbows), some cost some money (like affordable gluten-free cupcakes with sprinkles). If you are a part of the AmeriCorps network please reach out through our contact us form for a discount on any course or a subscription.
Thank you for the work you are choosing to do with your time, it matters.