Phone books, card catalogs, newspaper boys—the way we gather information these days sure has changed. We don’t even have to go as far back as the telegraph because even the yellow pages sound like a quaint throwback.
People share a lot of information in person, which is sometimes hard to believe when you see countless people walking down the street with their eyes glued to their smartphones. So your pitch delivered face-to-face is, and will continue to be important. But with the shift of so much of our non-face-time to online, the internet is providing more diversity in terms of where we go to find information. Back in the early days of online living (we’re talking 1997 here), there were a handful of webpages being cataloged by some technology enthusiasts. Today, if someone’s looking for information, they ask a search engine or their Facebook friends and they could end up in one of a countless number of places that contain the exact information they are looking for. The types of sites and tools that offer information are multiplying like tribbles.
All of this might sound like trivia that will maybe interest you next time you are researching a new car purchase or deciding whether to keep a giraffe as a pet. But it’s also important to how you communicate your mission to potential donors and supporters.
Review sites are growing in visibility, specifically in the nonprofit space. Sites have been developed that leverage either the assessment of experts or the wisdom of the crowd to deliver ratings on organizations working to improve out world. Greatnonprofits.org is a good example. People like to consult with other people when making decisions, especially the kind of decisions that separate them from some of their money. The Yelpification of world-changing work is here to stay.
You might think “that’s nice but is it really that big of a deal?” Consider that these sites (which search engines just lurve) are competing for the online eyeballs of your future donors. So at the very least, you want to show up well on these sites. You know, considering the fact that you’ll show up right next to a few thousand other organizations your donors could be supporting.
A few ideas for making the most of the almost unavoidable reality of your visibility on one of these sites:
- Review the listing for your organization, or add it if it isn’t there. These sites are all about gathering more data. Claim your organization’s profile and ensure that the data is accurate.
- Read and learn—if people are talking about you, you are the lucky recipient of some free market research. Review sites generally attract opinion outliers (those that had either extremely good or bad experiences), so take it all with a grain of salt. But assume it is valid feedback.
- Get active in generating (and using) reviews. Here are some great tips on doing that.
I can remember how exciting it was to find restaurant reviews online, how helpful it was in making a decision on dining options when there were so many choices available. You r future donors might be feeling that very same way about some of these review sites.