As we enter the “giving season” and marketers are ramping up their online presence in social networking sites and new media tools such as videos, user feedback forums, and the like, nonprofits should start leveraging the tools available to consumers of social change and garner holiday gifts as well.

Nonprofits can learn from for-profits this time of year. We see companies such as Nintendo, taking advantage of many engagement tools for those interested in the Wii gaming system. What did Nintendo do and how can nonprofits do the same thing?

1. Video: There are few media forms as compelling and engaging as video. On Nintendo’s Wii website (, visitors can watch videos on how to use the system and see others playing games.

Nonprofits can post short videos on blogs, news sections of their sites, and on YouTube (OR, on their own YouTube for Nonprofits page). Posting videos online lets a wider audience hear your story, learn about your services and spread your message throughout their networks without you needing to know each viewer or their friends.

2. Blog: Blogging is a terrific way for organizations—for or nonprofit—to communicate with their audience of supporters, interested citizens, news media, and potential consumers (whether of a product, a service, or even of information). Nintendo used a blog an its website months before the Wii system was even available to purchase to keep visitors up-to-date on product news and developments.

Nonprofits should incorporate a blog into the website in order to create a space for visitors to find out news, information about events, and stories about services. Creating a blog and allowing visitors to subscribe via RSS means the potential to drive in more visitors to the website and more supporters of the organization. Even if nonprofits have a blog already, this is the perfect time of year to create a “ways to give this season” blog that is either within the existing blog or an additional one. Post stories about volunteers, ideas for contributing to the organization, and even profile people or communities your organization is helping this season. Many people want to give in other ways than writing a check, so keep them updated on other ways they can help you out!

3. Forums: Providing an avenue for users to connect with each other about your organization, service or product helps to create content that other visitors find useful and trusted. Nintendo included discussion forms on the Wii website months prior to the product release which helped build buzz about the system and allowed potential users to connect online, asking questions and sharing opinions.

Nonprofits don’t need to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of building out a discussion feature to their websites; instead, make sure the website includes feedback areas, like on a blog, so that visitors can read what others have to say. Ask questions in your blog about what people are doing this holiday season to engage with local nonprofits, or other specific questions based on the subject of the blog entry. Even though it is somewhat static, an easy way to facilitate conversation between visitors to your site.

Lesson learned: For-profit organizations are engaging with audiences and creating a buzz around products for the holidays. Nonprofits should be doing the same thing and “gifts” of volunteer time, financial support, and even potential future partners in the field.

Nonprofits using Nintendo Wii? At least as an example!
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