GoFundMe agrees to acquire Classy, unlocking new opportunities for nonprofits. Learn more.

How to Make Your Small Nonprofit Look Like a Big Operation


By Elizabeth Pun

Request a Demo

Learn how top nonprofits use Classy to power their fundraising.

Schedule a Demo
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Nonprofits often have tight budgets and limited manpower. Staff members frequently juggle dozens of responsibilities, and young organizations often start out as one person with a laptop. When it comes to sheer size, many nonprofits fall on the smaller end of the spectrum.

Size doesn’t always reflect your ability to deliver results. However, when it comes to building trust and attracting support, the way you present your organization does matter. Projecting a professional image can make a difference in the way people perceive your nonprofit and its ability to make an impact. It can quell any doubts they might have about a small organization, boosting their trust and confidence in your brand’s credibility.

It’s time for your nonprofit to “dress for success,” even if you’re a one-person shop. Here are five tips to make your organization look more established and professional.

1. Prioritize Your Website Design

When people hear about a product or organization for the first time, one of the first things they do is look it up on the Web. That means your website is a prospective donor’s “first impression” of your organization, and it only takes a moment for them to form an opinion. According to research conducted at Missouri University of Science and Technology, people form a first impression of a website in less than two-tenths of a second.

Overall web design can be a key indicator of your credibility. One study found that 94 percent of the reasons visitors reject or mistrust a site are design-related.

Having clean, sophisticated website design can greatly influence someone’s perception of your organization, its credibility, and its professionalism. Elements like typography, color scheme, and layout can impact your website’s visual appeal, so make sure they’re well-chosen and represent your brand favorably.

2. Get an Email Address that Contains Your Domain Name

Rather than using a Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail email extension, use an email address that contains your website domain name (e.g. “[email protected]”). Email is one of the main ways your supporters receive communications from your organization, so your email address should represent a professional brand. Also create an email signature that includes your title, logo, address, and other contact information to project a polished image of yourself.

Another way to make your nonprofit appear bigger is to create multiple email addresses for different organizational departments, whether it’s “[email protected],” “[email protected],” or “[email protected]” All emails can still go to you, but numerous contacts give the impression you have designated teams behind the scenes.

3. Use High-Quality Content and Marketing Assets

When it comes to your content marketing, delivering high-quality content is key to appearing professional and boosting engagement. Your visual content, in particular, should be refined to generate social shares and drive traffic back to your website. Here are a few free tools you can use to spruce up your graphics:

Pixlr – Use this photo editor to crop, refine, and add text and effects to your images.
Infogr.am – This tool allows you to create charts, edit data, and display video to build interactive infographics and visualizations.
Canva – Choose from an extensive range of free templates, icons, assets, and layouts to create beautiful graphics.

Your emails should also look professional and be properly formatted. Polish them up by using responsive email templates. These will also optimize your emails for mobile devices, ensuring your messages adapt to smaller screen sizes. Many email marketing services, like MailChimp, offer responsive templates within the software. For more options, check out this collection of 30 free responsive email templates.

4. Post to Your Blog and Social Media Accounts Consistently

Amplify your online presence by updating your social media platforms regularly. Not only will this boost your chances of appearing on people’s feeds, but it also confirms to followers that you have the capability and resources to keep multiple channels updated with fresh content.

Look into social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite that allow you to a) schedule your posts to automatically publish at optimal times, and b) manage all of your social networks from one dashboard. These tools can help you build a social media presence without having to manually post to your different networks all day long.

The more consistently you post quality content to social media, the more opportunities you’ll also have to engage supporters. This can help increase your number of followers on different networks, which can build brand awareness and give the impression your organization is backed by a large community. Build your followings by creating compelling content for each social channel.

There’s much to cover when it comes to tailoring your engagement strategy for each site, so check out our Big Social Media Guide for actionable tips and best practices for every major network.

5. Use “We” Instead of “I”

This tip is super simple, but extremely important: always use “we” instead of “I” in your communications. “I” instantly leads readers to believe you’re a one-man shop. In your emails, newsletters, website copy, impact reports, and social media posts, always use the pronoun “we” to project the image of a larger team behind your brand.

Your organization may not have a huge team or a roomy budget, but you can still dress the part. Enhancing your organization’s professional image can help increase your visibility and reliability to potential supporters. From improving your website design to changing your pronoun usage, these tweaks can drastically improve people’s perception of your nonprofit.

The Nonprofit Digital Marketing Checklist

Subscribe to the Classy Blog

Get the latest fundraising tips, trends, and ideas in your inbox.

Thank you for subscribing

You signed up for emails from Classy

Request a Demo

Learn how top nonprofits use Classy to power their fundraising.

Schedule a Demo

Pin It on Pinterest