The importance of responding to volunteers and donors online could not be more prevalent as reviews continue to grow more than ever before. Aside from the fact that reviews from customers, donors, and volunteers help others decide whether they should visit an organization or not, reviews are now more prevalent on search results pages—meaning a lot of eyes can see what is being said about your nonprofit organization online.
In the business world, the influence that reviews have on shoppers is staggering: more than 91% of online shoppers incorporate reviews into their purchase decisions (Inc, 2019). Businesses are told to get more reviews on review websites to keep attracting new customers. When it comes to nonprofit organizations, the influence of reviews on donor and volunteer decisions to give money or time to a cause is even more critical. With so many review websites out there, where does an organization even begin? Your nonprofit staff may be afraid to manage reviews on review sites as you may not want to end up in one of these situations:
receive zero reviews
receive zero recent online reviews
receive negative online reviews
or, your nonprofit simply has unmanaged online reviews across multiple review websites
Unfortunately, you are missing out. This lack of free online word of mouth is actually hurting your organization through inaction, because reputation drives engagement with donor and volunteers.
1) Reviews and social posts help shape your online reputation
In fact, one of the worst things your nonprofit organization can do is ignore your online reviews and social posts. As easy as it is to make a mistake when handling your organization’s online reputation, it can also be easy to recover if done properly (and with apology). While damage will inevitably happen, your organization can take steps to mitigate the degree of damage that can occur. The biggest mistake of all your organization can make is not participating in helping to shape the conversation about your nonprofit online.
2) Reviews provide valuable feedback for your organization
While it can be easy for your organization to take negative comments to heart, it is important to recognize that reviews are constructive feedback. All in all, reviews are valuable feedback! They help your organization gauge its performance and see how you can improve. There is always room for improvement and a lot can be learned even from positive reviews. Through reviews, your organization can see which products, services or opportunities you should be promoting, which needs work, and even discover which employees or volunteers rock at customer service.
3) Your organization's reviews can now appear in search results
Search engines have caught on to the popularity of reviews and are now displaying them more prominently. So, if someone searches for your organization, there is a chance that reviews from review websites could be displayed on the search engine results pages. In Google’s markup—the annotated content that appears in search—of an organization or product, reviews and ratings can now be included in search results. In other words, when a user performs a search on Google, Google will find and possibly display review summaries from online reviews and consumer ratings. Below is an example of how reviews now showing up in search results.
How can an organization get more reviews?
There are a variety of methods your organization can employ to ask for more reviews, including emailing donors and volunteers manually, using surveys, asking consumers and volunteers to leave reviews with codes and review sites on their receipts, or utilizing review generation software to automate the review process.
Three important review website management tips:
Remember to add or claim listings on the top review sites - It’s a good idea to add or claim a listing or profile on the most popular review sites (unless your organization doesn’t fit with the niche), correct your listing information and start getting more reviews!
Your organization should keep asking customers, donors, and volunteers for reviews - Asking the average customer for a review can be hard work. Granted, it is often easiest to get reviews from constituents that are either really happy or really unhappy with the level of service or the experience they were provided. Your organization should always remember to ask as donors and volunteers are busy creatures and will not remember unless they are asked or reminded to leave feedback.
Donors and volunteers are more open to leaving reviews on review sites - Why not just ask for reviews or testimonials on your organization's website? Well, asking volunteers to leave a review on your organization's website seems a lot more screened and inauthentic than simply asking them to leave reviews on a trusted review site. Since the review site is a third party, it feels more open for other donors or volunteers to leave an honest, unbiased review.
Reviews are here to stay
In conclusion, there’s no getting away from reviews. The good news is that there are methods to get more reviews as well as effectively managing reviews from donors and volunteers. Also, nonprofit organizations needn’t fear negative online reviews, as there are ways to negate the effect of negative reviews.