United Way
of Whatcom County


April 18, 2020

Staff Writer Tera Contezac with Guest Writers Intellitonic  

It’s been more than a hundred years since people started using typewriters to craft their correspondence.   And those suckers had a good, long haul before home computers with word processors and dot matrix printers became popular. Then, almost all of a sudden, the internet changed the world. Along came e-mail and instant messaging. Dial-up became ancient history. Suddenly, phone calls became old fashioned. Texts only. Tweeting is no longer just for birds. 

Our rapidly changing technological world has drastically changed business. Do you remember when Amazon only sold books? To us little guys in the non-profit sector, it’s easy to shrug and wonder how to keep up. Our low-budget paper flyers don’t cut it anymore. We need to boost our online presence, but how?

This month, we’re pleased to welcome guest bloggers from Intellitonic here in Bellingham.  Intellitonic specializes in search engine optimization, or SEO (go ahead… impress your IT friends). They’ve helped us obtain a Google Grant, which offers up to $10,000 of in-kind online ads each month. The pros at Intellitonic manage the grant for us so that we can focus on our donors, our volunteers, and our funded partner programs.

Here’s Intellitonic’s best advice to non-profits fighting to keep up as technology races by.

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Intellitonic is based in Bellingham, WA. The Intellitonic team specializes in search engine optimization and digital marking.


In all our time in digital marketing, we have found that what counts is the ability to bring genuity and a personal touch into the online environment. Social media, meta data, and SEM (search engine marketing) are tools with which you can build an online grassroots following, if you know how to use them. Here’s how:

Determine what sets you apart.

What is it that attracts people to your nonprofit as opposed to all the others? Do you provide a unique service, or provide help in a specific area? Can something genuine be found in your staff and their heartfelt work? Whenever you communicate, whether on your home page, in your events, in your ads, or anywhere else, put your best foot forward and show people why you are valuable.

Be in easy reach.

Answer customer questions with sincerity and enthusiasm. Be proud of what you do, and that attitude will spread like wildfire. Customers will contact you on your Facebook wall and in private messages, in Google My Business and in reviews. Take the time to interact one-on-one, and that personal touch will be seen by hundreds if not millions.

Say thank you.

Donor satisfaction comes from the knowledge that their money is helping a real person. When someone leaves a donation, don’t drop them on your home page. Construct a compelling Thank You page that represents everything your nonprofit builds toward. Let them know their donation is going toward something meaningful and larger than themselves. They will remember this the next time they feel compelled to donate.

Let your work take the spotlight.

Keep people informed about your projects every step of the way. One great way to spread the word to fans is to distribute a newsletter. Report fundraising numbers, upcoming projects, and other relevant news. Make sure to provide ways for readers to get involved. Announce highlights on a mix of social media channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms that draw your audience. If there’s nothing going on, you might ask for user input on what your next project should be. Watch post likes and page unlikes to see what sort of material your audience connects with best.

Engage online as board members.

Request key members of your organization to reach out on social media, sharing their personal drive, anticipation, and critical thought concerning your projects and initiatives. LinkedIn is the place where business and people meet, and is the perfect place to reach out as one of the minds behind your company. However, the majority of social media users are not active on LinkedIn, so it’s best to reach out on Facebook as well.

Keep your website simple.

Basic SEO is the act of making your website easy for search engine crawlers to navigate. It doesn’t have to be flashy. In fact, the skeletal structure of SEO is clear and consistent labeling. Keep titles consistent and parent pages logically organized. A little organization goes a long way toward helping search engine crawlers (and people) navigate your site.

Build a consistent brand.

Create a singular voice to be used on all platforms: newsletters, announcements, website content, anything written from the perspective of the company. The images should be compelling both visually and cognitively. Avoid generic stock images. Consider inventing your own art style or aesthetic.

We have found that the most successful nonprofit outreach is managed across platforms by a single individual. The familiar voice encourages users to develop brand loyalty.

Take full advantage of your Google Ad Grant.

Your Google Ad Grant is your single most powerful online resource. However, it takes a significant amount of time and expertise to manage.

Google Ads appear at the top and bottom of a Google search page alongside other search results. SEM specialists design individualized ads to appear when users search specific keywords. The ads then take the user to your website where they may donate, buy tickets to an event, or get involved in one of your projects.

Handling a Google Ads campaign is a time-consuming activity that benefits from expert handling. We recommend outsourcing your Google Ads in order to see the greatest possible return on your Google Ad Grant.

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Thanks, Intellitonic.

Readers, if you have any questions about how to promote your unique nonprofit service online, please don’t hesitate to contact Intellitonic. We've found them to be nothing less than helpful. And we think you will too.