Google+ for Your Nonprofit Marketing Mix: Profile, Page, & Community

Organizations have been reluctant to embrace Google+ as part of their nonprofit marketing mix and for good reason. While many people still consider it a ghost town, others hold the wishy-washy statistics of 300+ million monthly active users with great skepticism. The benefits far outweigh the cons for the ad-free platform. You will start to see more and more people – especially millennials – migrate to Google+ from Facebook. But only once they understand the full features of the social platform.

It is my hope that you’ve established a sound social media strategy that coincides with your organization’s mission and available resources. It’s ok for your nonprofit storytelling to be about your achievements and impact. Just don’t forget to curate content from other relevant sources too.

BlackBaud’s report asserts that, “92% of nonprofit professionals use content marketing” to build trust. They also rely on it for donor acquisition and retention. Your content plays a big role in helping you to fulfill your mission.

Google+ is the 5th most used social media channel for nonprofit content distribution and quickly on the rise. Be thoughtful about how you’d integrate Google+ into your existing structures. Especially after creating a new Profile, Page, and Community.

I’d like to provide a framework for best practices any nonprofit can adopt. Let’s look at the various elements necessary to make your time on Google+ well spent.


From Gmail to Personal Profile to Nonprofit Page

On Google+ – as in life – you must crawl, before you can walk, before you can run.

It all begins with a free Gmail account, which enables your personal Google+ profile. In my quest for nonprofit capacity building and digital literacy, I implore you stop the slow crawl and walk into a new realm of technology. The media rich features on Google+ will enhance your communications strategy and have you running way ahead of the pack.

Google+ is a Human Platform

Create a full personal profile on Google+ to establish your voice and present yourself as a subject matter expert. It allows like-minded people to support your cause and nonprofit mission. Even when you’re not online.

So go ahead. Don’t be shy.

Upload a profile picture, cover photo, and fill in some details about yourself. Be sure to add some links to your other social accounts and websites. Contact information is always good too. Keep it light and fresh and most of all, let your personality shine.

Remember, this will be the first opportunity you have to introduce yourself and your nonprofit. So you’ll want to make a great first impression. Set your privacy settings to allow other plussers to send you a message without revealing your email address. This is good for direct engagement and you can always block any undesirables.

Here’s a quick video from Google+ to get you started with your profile:

If you’re new to Google+, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the user interface. Google has done a great job of keeping the design and layout simple and clean.

Google+ Page for Nonprofits

So you’ve established your personal profile. Great! Create a Google+ Page for your organization to maximize your exposure and build authority. Hover your mouse over “Home” (top left) to expand the Google+ main navigation menu. Click on Pages and follow the onscreen instructions.

Check out this handy Slideshare for the play-by-play:

You can toggle between your personal profile and nonprofit page by clicking on your profile image (upper-right corner) and selecting your organization’s logo. In either case, you can share various types of media; plain text, static images, animated GIFs, videos, and/or links with each post. Sharing your content “publicly” allows your posts to be found within Google search. I tend to share things publicly using my personal profile, then reshare my own content as my Page within a Community (or vice-versa).

At some point, you’ll want ensure that you’ve linked your website to your nonprofit page. It gives you that verified checkmark from Google. This small action authenticates your Page among the masses. When coupled with great content, it makes your page a catalyst for telling your story. Google Authorship and advance search features will do the rest.

What’s In Your Google+ Toolbox?

Be tactful about your approach. Create a unique engagement strategy on Google+ that speaks right to your audience. Make them aware of your message. I suggest sharing content outside of your own – as both yourself and your page. You’ll need to align your content marketing plan with an editorial calendar. Especially when working with a digital communications team. It keeps everyone on the same page, allows you to plan ahead for resource allocation, and no one needs to wonder what’s next.

I recommend using Buffer to schedule your posts onto your new Google+ Page. They give you up to 10 free posts for scheduling your content. You can only schedule sharing to your Page for now, but you can install a free browser extension for Chrome called Do Share. It allows you to do the same thing as Buffer with the added convenience of scheduling content to your personal Google+ Profile. I will warn you that sometimes it’s buggy and the app is unsupported, but otherwise a great tool.

It’s well known that the best time to post on Google+ is between 9-11am for heightened engagement on your content. In reality, this will differ for everyone. Depending on what you’re sharing, the type of media used, your Google+ formatting style, and the list goes on. Two posts per day between 8am-3pm Monday-Friday is a great way to get the ball rolling. I suggest experimenting with different times of the day between your Profile and Page as you build your following. Once you’ve created enough historical data, use Timing+ to determine the best moments for optimal engagement. Then schedule Buffer and/or Do Share as needed.

The best thing you can do on Google+ to achieve success is to be responsive. If someone takes the time out to comment on your post – good or bad – take the time to provide an objective reply. +1’s are the same as Likes on Facebook. When someone +mentions you in their post or reshares your content, it deserves a bit of gratitude. Google+ will notify you when any of these forms of engagement occur. You can use another browser extension called CircleCount to track ripples and other stats. Ripples is also a native feature of Google+. You can find it by clicking on the dropdown menu in the upper right hand corner of your post.


Google+ Communities For Nonprofits

Since its release on December 6, 2012, Google+ Communities has been available to the public. Enabling anyone to create a topic-specific destination on the Internet for any interest you can think of.

Building relationships in the social media sphere is important. Engage in discussions and offer your wisdom to help others. Google+ Communities allows visceral engagement with other plussers who share your particular interests. Creating and sharing quality content within Google+ Communities allows you to increase your visibility. Attracting supporters to your cause. Each time you do so is a branding opportunity for you and your nonprofit’s logo.

Anyone can create a Google+ Community. Nurturing its growth, productivity, and purpose is altogether a hefty task. I recommend participating in existing communities before starting your own. Because running one is no easy feat. Doing so allows you to get a feel for the marketplace to determine how you can add unique value on popular subjects shared by many.

Keep in mind that every community has a different code of conduct – or so they should. They tend to describe the rules for engagement and provide posting guidelines for members to follow. Spend some time discovering a community’s policies before engaging. This will ensure your posts are not removed or worse yet – get yourself banned.

Private or Public Google+ Community?

If you decide to create your own community, you have to determine whether it will be private or public. Only certain privacy configuration will provide any SEO value. Establish both your Profile and your Page as the ‘owners’. So that you can provide proper administration depending on which profile you’re toggled into. You’ll have to join the community as your Page and wait two weeks before being able to assign more owners, but that’s ok. You have plenty of other things to do in the meantime.

Hover your mouse over “Home” (top left) to expand the Google+ main navigation menu as we did earlier to create the nonprofit G+ Page. When you see a list of options, click on Communities then Create Community.

The purpose of your community is synonymous with your decision to make it public or private. Each with its own set of options and parameters. Here is a chart explaining the differences from Google.

Community Who can join See posts & members Find community via search
Public – Anyone can join Everyone Everyone Everyone
Public – Moderator approval Request to join, approved membership Everyone Everyone
Private – Find via search Request to join, approved membership Members Everyone
Private – Hide from searches Only invited people Members Not search results

Select “no, anyone can join” OR “yes, anyone can ask to join” depending on what your particular needs are.

Whichever way you go, follow the same fundamentals from when you created a G+ Profile and nonprofit Page. Be sure to come up with a great name for your community. Use keywords related to your nonprofit niche since it’s indexed in search depending on your settings. Google+ support says,

“A community’s privacy settings currently can’t be changed once it’s been created. Please pick your desired setting from the start.”

Google+ Community Structure & Personality

Be prepared to start giving your new Google+ Community some structure and personality. With a great Community Name, you’ll need a brief Tagline and Avatar to associate with your community. Social Media 4 Good uses a free license image with the #SM4GOOD hashtag for universal branding. Create some Categories, provide a description for About this Community, and share some social media Links or internal pages.

Click To Enlarge

Populate your Categories with content, especially within Community Guidelines. Each of the categories you’ve created should have some of your original content as well as relevant curated content. Your team should engage each others’ posts to kick things off. 

Here are the essentials:

  1. Community Name
  2. Tagline
  3. Community Avatar
  4. Categories
  5. About This Community
  6. Community Links

Click Options (red circle) to edit these areas.

Nurturing Your Google+ Community for Growth

Assigning community moderators is crucial for the success of any community. After all, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” Google+ does a pretty good job of detecting spam, but moderation doesn’t end there. Your team will have to keep an eye out for repeat posts, conduct unbecoming, unscrupulous link dumping, and anything else that does not conform to your community policy.

Such incidents are dealt with swiftly within any properly moderated community. You and your team of moderators must set and maintain the standards of the community to make it a thriving environment for learning and discussion.

Keep Your Community Organized


Categories within your community are an extremely useful feature since it maintains your topics into neat segments of the primary interest. Google+ allows a total of twenty.

Let’s face it. People don’t always categorize their posts into the appropriate categories you’ve clearly created for your community. Luckily, Google+ allows moderators to fix that in a couple of seconds by hovering your mouse over the existing category (within the post) and simply selecting the correct one from the list. voila!

Posting Style

Treat each of your posts as a mini-blog, taking the time to use Google+ formatting to create a bold post title, provide a description about what someone can expect to find when clicking the link and feel free to use a nice image to increase your click-through rate. Highly plussed, shared, and engaged content increases your social signals and gives your website great link juice. Lead by example!

Google+ Hangouts

Hosting Google+ Hangouts with your constituents is a great feature. Enabling free video conferencing for your interviews, board member meetings, or just to get your fundraising ambassadors pumped up right before a big campaign launch. HOA (Hangouts On Air) will record a video of your hosted conference and automatically share it to your YouTube channel, which you can later use for your blog. Get creative!

Kickstart Your Entrance on Google+

I welcome you to check out the Social Media 4 Good Community to ask questions, seek guidance, borrow ideas, and mingle with some of the best and brightest nonprofits and social media leaders from around the world. Feel free to add the Nonprofit Power Circle to begin acquainting yourself with other Do Gooders on a mission – just like you.

Did I miss anything? What are some of your best practices on Google+?


User Generated Content Drives the #GivingTuesday Movement Towards Success

UNnselfie MovementTime NewsFeed asserts that, “A good ‘word of the year’ will sum up our culture as it was during that particular orbit around the sun.” As the earth makes its full revolution, it seems only right that the giving season is here and #GivingTuesday has restored the balance over the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year by introducing the #UNselfie. An online campaign designed to generate earned media for good causes around the globe by asking supporters to take a picture of themselves doing something for the greater good.

There were many vehicles in place for spreading awareness through print, radio, and television, but nothing takes the cake like simple word-of-mouth. The White House took part in pushing forth the #GivingTuesday Movement along with many other prominent public figures, celebrities, nonprofits, and socially responsible corporations.

People across the nation catapulted the movement’s efforts through user generate content by promoting #GivingTuesday as a national day of giving, helping good go viral through social media and a multi-channel approach. Whether you’ve made the The Bieber or The Sunsoaker your favorite selfie pose this year, #GivingTuesday provided each and every one of you self-regarding exhibitionists an opportunity to shed the narcissism and cast your stance on raising awareness for your favorite cause or nonprofit organization.

User Generated Content – #UNselfie Movement

The Tale Of The Hashtag

Over the last 30 days, 723,237 unique tweets were sent out with 289,063 of them peaking on #GivingTuesday while #UNselfie reached 33,580 total tweets and 16,933 on Decembers 3, 2013. They both achieved a Topsy Sentiment Score of 84, which is comparable to brands like Calvin Klein (83), Pepsi (84), and Taco Bell (86) during the 2013 NFL Superbowl. I’m talking about hundreds of billions of impressions with retweets, @replies, and the impact on other social media platforms like Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.


This year, there were 10,000+ nonprofits participating in #GivingTuesday worldwide, a 300% increase over 2012 with only 2500 organizations during its kick-off year. It is anticipated that the number of mentions for #GivingTuesday will surge to a cool million+ by the end of the year as the giving season continues.

As you can see in the graph below, the use of #UNselfie started to drop hard and fast when supporters stopped producing content just one day later. The good thing is that the giving has not been interrupted.


A Bigger Trend in Global Personal Philanthropy

Blackbaud, a leading source of nonprofit news, trends, best practices, and a founding partner of #GivingTuesday recently published its findings for the 2013 giving day to reveal a final tally of $19.2 million in online donations, up 90% from $10.1 million since the inaugural season in 2012. While Black Friday suffered it’s first decline in spending since 2009.

Is this a sign of the times? Are we are heading towards a major decline in global apathy? I hope so! With all the record-breaking fundraising which occurred for many organizations – big and small – perhaps #GivingTuesday is the answer towards breaking past the 2% GDP ceiling in charitable giving. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and keep the optimism flowing.

Needless to say, the bump in online fundraising for #GivingTuesday should provide a compelling argument to all the naysayers and skeptics. Take a look at FirstGiving for example; donations increased by 175%, from $159,102.96 in 2012 to $438,018.50 on December 3rd. Then there’s the General Board of Global Ministries UMC in Los Angeles who yielded $6.5 million from 11,000 donors in 34 countries.

Mobile and social media will continue to play a major role in online fundraising, especially with an increase of 205% in mobile donations in North America alone. Thus contributing to a larger trend in global personal philanthropy as we move into the new year. Combining this with the power of crowdsourcing will allow people to fundraise for the causes they care about most while at the same time garnering a return on relationship through increased awareness for the organizations they cherish.

It is important for 501(c)(3)’s to demonstrate transparency and high visibility in spending, allowing supporters to see how their contributions are causing impact. Existing technologies and new innovations in the nonprofit sector will continue to drive and expand this effort. In the future, digital literacy programs and capacity building will help all organizations participate in #GivingTuesday to reach new donors and break some records of their own.

Just as online technology is helping business reach millions of new potential customers in a more targeted way, it’s also helping nonprofits reach a huge pool of potential new donors.” —Bill Gates

Moving forward, I can see the first Tuesday after every Thanksgiving as the official launch date to the charitable giving season and year-end fundraising. #GivingTuesday will be established as a household term as commonly familiar to the masses as Black Friday or Cyber Monday. Like many foundations in the country hosting a Giving Day to empower their communities, the #GivingTuesday Movement sets to do the same on a global scale.

If you missed this historical fundraising event, not to worry. The next one isn’t until December 2, 2014. I think you have a little bit of time to start prepping. The best is yet to come!

Congratulations on a well coordinate effort! Kudos to all +Giving Tuesday partners, ambassadors, and social change agents for participating. I am grateful to +Henry Timms of the +92nd Street Y, Kathy Calvin of the +United Nations Foundation, and +Steve MacLaughlin of +Blackbaud for making this a reality.

Special acknowledgment to +Google+ and +Mashable for hosting the first ever Hangout-a-thon which featured 12-hours of giving live and direct. Check out the video below if you missed it.

I suggest you bookmark this page and watch it in piecemeal.

Did you participate in #GivingTuesday this year? Please share your results, biggest challenges, and overall thoughts on how to make it better for next year.

Do Gooders Unite on the Social Web to Cause Global Impact

As featured in an article, Top 20 Communities to Join on Google+ via’s Daily Tips Blog:

Performing good deeds with social media does not have to seem like a lonely crusade when a motivated tribe of like-minded individuals back you up! Inspired by Gabriel Reynoso, learn how social media is distinctly helping to change the world through cause marketing, as well as contribute to your goals and find assistance accomplishing them.

Our mission is to promote the digital communications of registered nonprofit organizations, global foundations, and philanthropic endeavors to support humanitarian relief, cause social impact, increase quality of life, and improve the human condition worldwide.

The social web is a powerful tool, uniting an extraordinary group of Social Media Angels from the planet Earth. SM4GOOD delivers universal goodness via volunteerism, cause marketing, social media marketing, Internet marketing, online fundraising, SEO, NPTech, analytics, and a nice dose of daily inspiration. ☺

There are many organizations which need assistance navigating the realm of social media and technology. We are here to help bridge the gap of knowledge, increase the visibility of various causes, amplify their message, and teach them how to manage the technical aspects of their efforts to the point of self-sufficiency.

Join us today and donate any amount of time you can spare within the sub-sections where your knowledge is most dominant. The Social Media 4 Good Community focuses on supporting accredited and internationally recognized organizations. In the future, our members will determine how best to add credibility to independent crowdfunding campaigns in an effort to add value on a more personal and/or community based level. In the meantime, we will focus on what we know with certainty.

Helping do gooders be better do gooders with technology! This is exciting. Let’s go!

Our main platform is on Google+. The Social Media 4 Good Community currently has over 1400 members, including awesome organizations such as WomenOnCall,, and Action Donation Services (just to name a few) who contribute regularly to the community with fresh social media how-to’s and know-how. We are blessed to have a cast of other talented individuals who share their expertise as well.

Here are some other places across the social web where you can find SM4GOOD:

I encourage everyone to stay inspired! Please subscribe to our blog on WordPress and be sure to tell a friend. Tell us which topics you’d like us to write about. We’d love to hear from you.

Do You Know What Your Website Is Doing?

See on Scoop.itSocial Good

Seriously, do you know what your website has been up to?

Gabriel Reynoso‘s insight:

Check out this FREE course from Google on the power of Analytics:

Here is an easy-to-follow three week course anyone can complete through self-pace learning from the source – Google! It’s a great opportunity for your nonprofit organization to establish a solid foundation to implementing the core principles of digital analytics in an effort to improve performance outcomes through better digital measurement.

At the completion, you can take a final exam and receive a Certificate of Completion from Google, but more importantly – you’ll be better off by knowing what your website is doing 🙂

All materials will be available on October 8th. Sign up. It’s FREE!

How Much Does It Cost To Ride The Mobile Fundraising Bandwagon?

“Crowdfunding is the latest way to leverage the internet by using the collective power of a large number of small donations that when pooled together add up to a large sum.” +Peter Trapasso

Mobile-Fundraising-BandwagonIt’s easy to see why it’s so important for nonprofits to devise a strategy which includes mobile fundraising. With over 1 BILLION smart phones transmitting radio waves on Planet Earth, this presents a great opportunity for your organization to acquire new donors, but are you ready to pay the price?

A recent +B2C article (see below) explores the use of two popular apps which provide all the essentials for successful fundraising via the Internet, social media, and mobile devices. They provide several other tools for management and communications to make your process effortless.

+Razoo charges 4.9% while +Fundly does the same and tacks on an additional 3% for credit card fees. Ouch! You may consider +PayAnywhere as a mobile fundraising solution at 2.69% per swipe which allows you to incorporate their API within your custom app. Nice!

+PayPal offers registered 501(c)(3)’s a discounted rate of 2.2% + 0.30 per transaction which can be integrate within your website. You’ll also be able to accept PayPal as a payment method and provided a solution for mobile credit card processing. There is however, a $20 chargeback fee, if that were to ever occur.

SMS platforms which use a ‘short code’ to donate are under heavy scrutiny by charity watchdog groups such as CharityWatch because of the exorbitant fees associated with such services. In some instances, up to 50% of the monies donated are paid in fees and can take up to 120 days to process. Kinda defeats the purpose if you ask me.

+Verizon Wireless customers can make a $10 donation by texting REDCROSS to 90999 to support the +American Red Cross. Text messaging fees are waived and 100% of each donation goes directly to the Red Cross. They’ll even provide a dollar-for-dollar match for employee donations from the Verizon Foundation up to $1000. Great cause marketing!

+mGive works with pretty much every major carrier in the United States and passes along 100% of the funds you’ve collected directly to your organization, but there are limits to how much you can collect per donor per month AND you have to meet their annual revenue requirements to qualify your organization for the service.

There are a variety of other providers which offer subscription based services on a 6, 12, and 24 month contract but the additional set-up, service, and transaction fees quickly diminish your ROI, especially if you don’t have a solid strategy in place and execute accordingly.

Before you jump on the mobile fundraising bandwagon, be certain about how you will best maximize your efforts. Unless you have a big cause marketing partner, remember that the best way to keep all the money you’ve generated for your cause is to have donors send you a check.

The appeal to millennials will occur with high-impact visual storytelling and compelling CTAs via your mobile-enabled website which demonstrates the impact of their donation helping people in the real world. You can save on a lot of fees through your own secure and responsive website.

What’s your best recommendation on how organizations can incorporate mobile fundraising without breaking the bank?