One of the most powerful assets in nonprofit marketing is one that you can’t create yourself: User Generated Content (UGC).
UGC is content that’s created by your supporters, those directly impacted by your nonprofit, or others who have experienced your mission firsthand. These users then take it upon themselves to write reviews, testimonials, recommendations to friends and family, or even create video content featuring your organization.
Why is UGC So Valuable?
According to the Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, consumers are 92% more likely to trust the opinion of someone they know rather than an advertising message from a business. Perhaps more surprising is the finding that 82% of consumers trust online reviews from strangers more than they do a sales message from a business or organization.
The last century of advertising, filled with larger-than-life imagery and claims, has conditioned the savvy modern consumer to be skeptical of any type of commercial self-promotion. Americans now tend to look to Amazon reviews (whether or not they intend to make their purchase with the online mega-retailer) and to Youtube or TikTok for opinions from peers about items and services with price tags ranging from a few dollars to tens of thousands.
These reviews can be make-or-break for your organization. One well-written positive review can sway a peer from uncertainty to making a donation with excitement and confidence. Those happy donors often go on to create more UGC, helping the process to grow and expand.
Reviews on Google or a third-party charity watchdog organization are often the first things sought by those who are considering making a donation, applying for a job, or volunteering their time with your organization. Making sure those reviews are positive starts first with the quality of your mission and service. The second step is to encourage existing supporters to take time out of their busy schedules to share their opinions with others.
In the Bank of UGC, Video Reviews are Solid Gold
Video reviews tend to be the most shared UGC format for consumers under 35 – the demographic now taking the lead in charitable contributions. These reviews can take the form of full-scale impact stories on Youtube and Facebook, or they can simply be quick show-and-tell recommendations (or warnings!) on Instagram and TikTok.
Only a small percentage of your average supporters will make the effort to create video reviews and demonstrations, but social influencers are often eager to create content in exchange for the opportunity to reach a larger audience and gain more views or followers, or, of course, for or a fee. The reach of these influencers and the social currency that their content usually carries can produce a very high return on investment.
If video reviews appeal to your target demographic, reach out to these influencers and begin making connections. If you don’t have the bandwidth to manage this kind of project, or maybe you don’t know where to begin finding influencers that are a good fit for your organization, there are agencies that specialize in helping nonprofits with this very thing.
How to Encourage Valuable UGC
There are several possible ways to boost the quality and quantity of reviews for your nonprofit. Some examples include:
- Offer a matched donation for all new contributions driven by a supporter’s content.
- Host a giveaway or special perk with the winner chosen at random from those who leave a review with a comment. Giveaways could be a ticket to an upcoming event, special merchandise created as a fundraising anchor, etc.
- Send an email reminder and a link to current donors, members, and volunteers to leave a quick review to help others who may be considering supporting your organization.
The easiest and most effective way to get a supporter to leave a review is to genuinely let them know how much you appreciate them for choosing to help your organization, and then ask if they’d be kind enough to leave some feedback for your nonprofit online. You may be surprised at how willing they are to contribute!
With over 20 years experience in traditional and digital marketing, Beth Brown has spent the bulk of those serving the nonprofit sector. Organizations and institutions that have relied on her strategy and skills include ChildFund International, Creighton University, University of North Dakota, Virginia Community College System, and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.