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Web of Impact: The Network Effect and Nonprofits

July 24, 2016

The ultimate goal of a nonprofit, and the individuals working in them, is noble. To devote one’s life, time, and energy to a cause bettering the lives of a local or global community is to be admired. The trouble is that making an impact requires access to resources, with the most important, and often hardest to come by, being money. And when you factor in the lean staffing most nonprofits operate off of, fulfilling one’s mission can become quite daunting. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. 

Technology has given every nonprofit, big or small an incredible opportunity to raise more funds, by activating a broader base of supporters all with current staff levels and a marginal investment. So what is this secret strategy? The Network Effect. 

The Network Effect is simply an academic name for virality. While the term conjures up visions of infographics and cat videos, it is scientific, finding its’ origins in economics. In fact, it’s the phenomena known as the multiplier effect and has even been studied/broken out into a simple process by Wharton professor, Jonah Berger. These five steps, known as The STEPPS Process, highlight the ingredients that make something go viral and break down the misconception that virality is serendipitous. In fact, it is quite achievable with the appropriate technology and diligence. Below are five-tips to help you harness this concept: 

1. View your donors as gateways to micro-networks

Don’t think of a donor as a singular individual. Think of each donor as an initial contact to a micro-network. The trick is to make it easier to get beyond the lead and into the network’s interior. Technology crafted and structured appropriately let’s this happen automatically, without strenuous work.

2. Talk to your supporter base

Sure this may seem a bit analog, but the experience your donors and supporters have with you can be the lynchpin. Pick up the phone, write a letter, send an email. Whatever you feel comfortable doing, the best way to ensure the transmission of your message is to get a strong word-of-mouth moving. 


3. Mix images, videos, and copy into your communications

There’s alchemy in the right combination of videos, imagery, and copy. With videos becoming the content medium of choice, it is becoming increasingly imperative that your organization invest in this type of communication. That isn’t to say that copy or imagery is no longer needed to spread your message, but rather that experimenting with different platforms and a variety of content to create shareable communications is a key part in leveraging the Network Effect.

4. Use your website footer strategically

The footer space on a webpage is often overlooked, when in reality it has a great deal of potential to drive visitors to the most important pages on your site. By building this area of your website out, you can easily direct traffic to valuable locations throughout your site. Even more so, this extends to other channels outside of your site such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Do your best to ensure that your site is notated and drive back to an advantageous location. Also, as you construct this portion, keep in mind the nature of responsive design, to ensure that no matter the device, visitors can be transitioned to the destination of your choosing with ease and clarity.

5. Develop DIY fundraising programs

Anyone in fundraising knows that DIY is all the rage these days. The trend has hit everything from the maker movement to coding schools to pottery classes, and now it makes its mark on the nonprofit sector. The investment can be somewhat taxing, but there are great best practices and tools out there that can enable you to get started quickly and achieve results. Build out great messaging, provide pointers, and let your advocates move the needle alongside their networks.

BONUS TIP: Use tools such as Social Press Kit to create consistent messaging for supporters at large.

At the heart of it, these tactics enable a more direct path to message repetition and brand recognition that indelibly aligns with your impact. More importantly, it scales awareness and revenue opportunities. Cultivating a mindset of virality is crucial for organizations of all shapes and sizes moving forward. Utilize available technologies and thrive.

Social Press Kit is the simplest way to share approved social content with partners. To learn more visit:

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