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digital setup guide for nonprofits and volunteer-based organizations

October 18, 2018

By Erin Hyland, digital director

So, you’ve been named to the board of your favorite nonprofit and are put in charge of creating its first digital presence. Or, perhaps you’re one of the many volunteers who have been asked to maintain an existing website, monitor social media channels, or blast out routine email campaigns.

If you’re new to the role, you likely didn’t get a thorough how-to guide. You’re also probably feeling overwhelmed, struggling most with where to begin.

For more than a decade, both as a consultant and as a mock5 team member, I’ve helped volunteers establish a grounded digital footprint for their organization. I’ve also worked as the digital guru for my parish’s youth sports organization, and shared ideas with my husband who worked in that role for our local soccer club. I know all too well that earnest mix of good intentions, small budgets, tight deadlines and minimal manpower. It can be difficult to do without the help of a professional.

If you’ve been a member of a nonprofit or volunteer-based organization, you’ll recognize that they often struggle because:

  • They are powered by well-meaning volunteers who lack dedicated time as they juggle their role along with paid positions and family life
  • Their boards have frequent turnover with shifting responsibilities and minimal on-boarding
  • Their passionate members have lots of ideas but not the time or bandwidth for action and follow-through

Regardless of your group’s restrictions, this guide should help start you on the path to a successful digital presence.

Before you begin reaching out to the world, first recognize to whom you’re speaking. Who is your audience? List out the commonalities, differences and demographics of your targeted groups.

Next, draft the universal message you’re trying to convey at an organizational level. Once that’s agreed upon, be sure the spirit of that message is carried through all of your communications.

Not sure how to begin? Start by visiting your organization’s mission statement. If you don’t have one, ask that it be addressed at your next board meeting. A mission statement should read something along these lines:

YOUR ORGANIZATION NAME stands for YOUR VALUES and will make choices according to THESE VALUES for YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.

Susan G. Komen is a great example of a strong mission statement:

Save lives by ensuring that all people receive the care they need, and finding breakthroughs to prevent and cure breast cancer.

Establish Consistency

If your organization doesn’t have a consistent, dedicated, organization-based email address, you should get one. This can be associated with the domain of the website ( or a free, generic account. (Either way, if you’re starting anew, we recommend a Gmail-based account.)

This account should then be used for all digital accounts associated with the organization, such as:

  1. Email communications
  2. Social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn)
  3. Ecommerce (PayPal, Venmo)
  4. Event or team registrations (Event Spot, EventBrite, Ticketleap, SI Play, TeamSnap)
  5. Product or online store engagement (Vistaprint, CustomInk)
  6. Shared documents, spreadsheets and presentations (Google Drive)

Dedicate a Position

Depending on the size of your organization, you should designate at least one person as webmaster or communication director. The person in this role would manage and monitor:

  1. Digital account logins
  2. E-blasts and other group communications
  3. Social media accounts
  4. Content creation
  5. Registrations and event promotion
  6. Digital mission statement

Organize Files

The best way to get others involved, whether asking for help or passing the torch to your successors, is to organize your branding files and logins. These may include:

  1. Website-related logins, including:
    1. Hosting
    2. Domain
    3. Email servers and setup
    4. Content Management Software (CMS) dashboard, such as WordPress
    5. Additional related third-party software, plugins or add-ons
  2. Guidelines, including:
    1. Brand colors (HEX, RGB, CMYK, PMS) and fonts
    2. Logo files (original vector, print-ready, web-ready)
    3. Design files (business cards, postcards, flyers)
    4. Website user instructions

Consider a Professional

Creating your digital presence can be overwhelming especially if your brand isn’t cohesive. In some instances, it’s better to bring in a pro to get your brand in tip-top shape before tackling your digital presence.

Having that solid foundation makes branching out easier for whomever is tasked with the upkeep, no matter their skill level or your organization’s goals.

If you are struggling to get started, mock5 design can help. Not sure what kind of help you need? That’s ok. We can sit down and talk about what your goals are, and go from there. We are experts in:

  • Branding and strategy
  • Print design
  • Digital and web design
  • Content development
  • Systems and web development
  • Agency-level support

Contact us today to talk about your digital goals and navigate your path to success!

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