Marketing and Outreach

VISTA Name: 
Molly Fergus
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

We determined the need for the marketing/member recruitment project based on the positive reaction received from publicity on,, The MIVA Ad Network and at the end of 2008. Being featured on all of these websites generated significant traffic to and both our membership and new volunteers increased as a result. Knowing what a little publicity can do for a nonprofit like made it clear that a stronger online marketing and member recruitment campaign will be essential to us.

The VISTA will inform more nonprofits about and expand our client base, increasing the number of people we serve. Last year began a campaign to reach out through many social networking sites and create monthly press releases. Findings were that neither of these methods brought in significant members. What did attract major traffic to our site was free online advertising received in addition to outreach to bloggers. This year a VISTA would build upon what we have found will achieve success: focusing on membership by reaching out to umbrella organizations, continuing to network with bloggers, and pinpointing the social networking sites best suited to

Working in cooperation with the Executive Director and Director of Outreach & Development, the Communications Coordinator responsibilities would be to:

-Develop, plan and execute an online fundraising campaign, reach out to potential partners

-Develop and execute a strategic marketing/member recruitment campaign. The marketing/member recruitment campaign will allow us to reach as many potential nonprofit organizations as possible, increasing our capacity to serve. In addition, the campaign will increase our financial capacity as an organization as warranted attention attracts the attention of potential donor and partner organizations.

Project Outcome: 

Shortly after coming to, Molly created a Public Relations/Marketing plan for us and has been implementing the plan for the past 3 months. Molly created a format for writing and sending out press releases and created a network for us to distribute our media materials to (including local news outlets and nonprofit technology blogs). She launched our first public relations campaign, which landed coverage in PC Magazine, Ode Magazine and the Philanthropy Journal. Molly regularly edits and contributes to the website, notably our press page and frequent blog posts. Molly has been instrumental in engaging our nonprofit membership by recruiting members to contribute to the newsletter, annual report and blog.

Molly has accomplished an incredible amount for us in the past 6 months and has been a wonderful addition to Molly’s press efforts have undoubtedly played a large part of the huge membership growth Grassroots experienced in the last year. In addition to helping us gain new members, Molly has also reengaged older members by reaching out to them for blog contributions. These engagement efforts are so important to us because the best way for us to gain new members is my word of mouth. So far, Molly has launched a “Member of the Month” series that allows us to feature one Grassroots member every month and give our other members advice on what makes a good nonprofit website. The monthly release has been standardized and will be very easy to continue to publish for other staff. In addition, Molly created our “Tool of the week” series. This feature presents reviews from staff of technology tools that we think would benefit our members. This series has been extremely popular. Molly not only created the format for the series, but also came up with an extensive list of tools that we will be able to continue to feature on a weekly basis.

In addition to the annual report (which came about because Molly was self-motivated and thought that it would benefit our organization immensely), Molly has greatly extended the reach of our organization through her work in developing our social networking reach; namely our Twitter account. Although we had a Twitter account that was managed by me (Laura Benack) when Molly came on board, she completely changed the way we were using this outlet. In addition to getting all recent news pushed out on Twitter, Molly also started to thoughtfully share useful articles and resources with our Twitter followers and interacting daily with other users in the nonprofit and technology fields. Molly has grown our follower list to just under 3,000 in just a few months. We will now be able to leverage this community of followers in the future and continue her methods of Twitter engagement.

Transmission Project