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For Better or Worse: What’s Your Online Image Saying about Your Nonprofit?


The following is a guest post by Shawn Kendrick, a researcher and blogger for VolunteerHub, a cloud-based volunteer management software application that offers online event registration, email and SMS (text) messaging, report generation, and much more. This is part of our ongoing VolunteerCorner series – focusing on what you need to know about volunteering for nonprofits.

Your Website

With so much information available on the web, most nonprofits have made their first impression before a volunteer, donor, or client interacts with the agency directly. When it comes to a nonprofit’s online image, of course, its website is essentially the foundation upon which to build. Take an objective look at yours. Is it easy to use? Does the layout make sense, and is it easy to navigate? Is your marketing and branding clear, concise, and consistent with your mission and other marketing materials? Also, be critical of your content. Will the reader easily understand what your agency does? And, finally, is there something for the viewers to do while they are at your site? The more they interact, the more they trust. It’s especially helpful if visitors to your website can respond to a call to action. The ability to register for volunteer events or make a donation are good ways to turn a viewer into a doer or donor.

Everything Else

Your website is the anchor for your web presence. However, you can take managing your online reputation to the next level with all the materials that are on the internet and linked back to your site. Taking the time to make sure all that’s out there is accurate and professional-looking is a must. If you have profiles on industry-related sites, like GuideStar Exchange, make sure to keep them current. If you are advertising online, be sure there is consistency with your logos, colors, branding, and marketing message. And don’t forget to be heavily engaged in social media. Word of mouth is important in any industry. In today’s world, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have accelerated this process to light speed. Take advantage of it to help build a solid reputation quickly.

Next Steps for Your Organization

Most internet users searching for charities are probably guilty of judging a nonprofit by its website and online presence. Don’t let your credibility be shaken by a sub-par website or lack of social media presence. Invest in these important tools, and potential volunteers and donors are more likely to give their time or funds to your organization.

GuideStar and VolunteerHub have partnered up to offer a free educational webinar in October: “How to Spot a ‘Good’ Nonprofit.” Attend the webinar to get more tips about building trust with donors, volunteers, and constituents.

Shawn Kendrick

Shawn Kendrick holds an MBA from Ohio Dominican University and has more than a decade of experience in the nonprofit and business sectors.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice