Nonprofit Spotlight: Atlanta Humane Society

In this new series on my blog, which I hope to expand to churches and businesses as well, I’ll be choosing an organization’s website and social media initiatives and provide commentary. The purpose of the spotlight series is to help you improve your organization’s website and social media use by giving you ideas and tips on how to do these things well through observing the great examples of others.

I wanted to start with a nonprofit, because I haven’t written much directed specifically for them, and because I have a special place in my heart for this one. The nonprofit of the day, from which I hope you get great ideas for your website and social media, is The Atlanta Humane Society (click here to open their page in a new tab so you can switch back and forth).

I’ll start with commentary on their website first, then move to their social media use second.

  1. Their site gives you a great first impression. What do you see first when you reach their site? Lots of colors, slick looking logos and a helpful navigation bar, and of course, lots of pictures of their animals! The colors are bright, fun, and are really appropriate to the organization and what they do. And you get all of their most important info in your first glimpse: easy links to donate, upcoming events accompanied by great pictures, a PSA video for their organization, and a slideshow of animals available for you to adopt right now. I give them an A+ on this. How can your website give users all the most important info they need about you while being visually appealing and dynamic at the same time? 
  2. They tell a story with their site. What story is that? It’s all about the animals, and you can easily get involved and make a difference. It’s not a coincidence that they have so many pictures and videos of so many different dogs and cats on their site. They want you to fall in love with each one and hopefully motivate you to adopt one, even though you might want them all! Also, they head off the most important question people might be asking as they visit the site, in advance: what can I do to help? There are two different and very prominent logo/links to “Donate Now”. This unconsciously moves you from feeling emotion over the adorable animals they have pictured to making it easy for you to take the next step and support them financially in their mission. Nicely done! How can your website tell a story about who you are as an organization, and make it easy for people to take whatever action you desire, whether it’s buying a product or attending a worship service? Don’t bury your actionable content somewhere a person might never see! Make the next step front and center.
  3. All adoptable animals have pictures and some have video. Is there any better way to an animal lover’s heart than pictures and video of a pet that could be theirs? This is absolutely fantastic and a really smart move. I wish I could see statistics for animal adoption agencies before and after the advent of the internet. Another great aspect of the system they use is that it’s all integrated, so the only animals you see online are the ones that are actually available for adoption. To be able to “meet” a prospective pet before you even leave the house is a great way to increase the likelihood of their being adopted. So the question for your organization’s site is, how can you use media, whether pictures, video, or both, to want people to become a part of your organization in some way? We’re visually-oriented creatures, and fortunately, aren’t colorblind like our doggy friends. Take advantage of our seemingly infinite desire for pictures and video!
Next, some commentary on the Atlanta Humane Society’s use of social media:
  1. In accordance with all the great things they’re doing I mentioned above, they post cute pictures of the animals as status updates. You might not always be checking their site constantly to look at pictures of new animals up for adoption, but that’s okay, because they bring them to you! They have fun with the pictures and commentary, and make you want to learn more about that animal and the organization as a whole. Remember, your social media presence should be fun and give something of value to people who follow or “like” you.
  2. They’ve partnered with businesses related to pets and have “Like” campaigns announced on their Facebook page and Twitter account, through which they can receive donations. It’s a win-win: businesses get more likes for their Facebook page, and you get to help out a worthy cause. How can your organization cross-promote itself like this?
  3. They post pictures of new adopters with their new pet and post them. This makes people who appear on that site feel special, like they’re almost celebrities (and with 4,176 “likes”, they basically are!). How can you make people feel special (in a positive way, not everyone wants their picture visible to so many people!) with your social media use? 
I hope this type of commentary is helpful to you as you think about improving your own website and social media use. Three cheers to the wonderful people and animals at the Atlanta Humane Society. Thank you for all you do!