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More often than not, your reputation online is the first thing potential volunteers see about your organization. What is your online presence saying to the world?
Curating a positive brand identity is key to the way volunteers view your organization. To know how your organization appears to volunteers takes a little bit of monitoring, a.k.a. online reputation management (ORM). Your ORM is your approach to overseeing and improving your online presence as it is seen by volunteers. You want to be sure that potential and current volunteers are given the proper representation of your organization. Having someone lined-up in your volunteer succession plan to audit your ORM will ensure you always have eyes on your online presence.
Be mindful of what you post online. Every post you create on social media is a reflection of your organization; the content featured on your website does the same. It is important to look at your word choice and how it may be perceived. Before clicking “share” read through what you have written. Parse the post for any errant phrasing that could be taken the wrong way if not viewed in your intended context.
Your online presence is not limited to what you post. Factors out of your control, to wit, volunteer reviews, can impact your organization’s online reputation. Volunteers have a front-row seat to everything your organization does; in turn, what they have to say holds a lot of stock. Their reviews can make or break your online reputation.
Whether left on Google, Facebook, or a third-party site, reviews are an easy way to track and manage your online reputation.
Think of volunteer reviews as a digital grapevine. According to a 2017 consumer report from BrightLocal, “85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.” Meaningful, positive reviews from your volunteers can help boost your online reputation and attract new volunteers to your mission.
“How do I amass positive reviews?” you ask? It’s as simple as asking volunteers to do so. Encourage your volunteers to leave reviews about their experience before they leave your event. You can also include a review request in your post-project volunteer survey. As you ask your volunteers to leave reviews, be sure you aren’t pressuring them into leaving a positive review if that wasn’t their true experience.
Most of your reviews will be positive. However, on occasion, a negative review about your organization will be left. It happens. What matters more than the review itself is how you respond to it. Acknowledge the feedback provided from the review’s author because ignoring the post won’t make it go away. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study found that consumers who received any response at all to their negative Tweet at a company were more likely to pay later than those who got no response. Following this logic, you can infer similar results for your nonprofit organization’s reviews. By responding to a negative volunteer review, your organization not only makes things “right” in their eyes but, in the best-case scenario, also stands to draw that volunteer back to serve with you.
While it’s nice to know exactly how your volunteers feel about your organization, their reviews can be used in many ways other than creating a better volunteer experience. Once you have gathered volunteer feedback, you can use this information in ways that will directly benefit your organization and amplify your impact.
Include volunteer reviews in your grant proposals. By including reviews, you can give grant committees a first-hand look at how volunteers react to working with your organization. This kind of insight provides grant managers the ability to see your organization through a more personal lens.
You can also feature your nonprofit organization’s reviews in your fundraising efforts. Whether it be in a pamphlet, brochure, or email, quoting volunteer reviews can go a long way with donors. Seeing the impact your volunteers feel after serving with your mission gives donors an inside look at your Movement For Good®. Don’t forget your volunteers themselves. Some of your biggest, untapped donors could be among them. Evaluating reviews can help you convert volunteers into donors.
Don’t forget your website. As current and new volunteers browse your organization’s website, they will be looking for volunteer opportunities, as well as why they should volunteer with you. Feature quotes from reviews as testimonials on your landing pages. You can also dedicate a section of your website to reviews. In doing so, you show volunteers that you listen to what they say and are applying it to your volunteer program.
Online reputation management for nonprofit organizations functions similarly to that of a business. However, rather than providing a product to consumers, your commodity is creating an impact with volunteers. Be sure your online presence reflects your community efforts and that you are keeping up with volunteer reviews.