User-Generated Content: Put your constituents to work!

For many nonprofits, writing new online content can be a huge burden. It always seems to be the most daunting task in a website redesign project. With User-Generated Content, you can actually rely on your constituents for some of that writing.

These days, we’re all pretty comfortable sharing information about ourselves online. We post pictures of our families on Instagram, share opinions about polarizing issues on Facebook and tell everyone what we’re having for breakfast on Twitter. These social spaces simply provide a space for us to share and share we do! If your organization were to provide a space for sharing, I bet you’d uncover some of your most compelling stories.


The most simple and ubiquitous form of User-Generated Content is a Comments space. We usually see Comments on Blogs but why not add a Comments space to your Stories and News Items too? Comments are the simplest way to begin a conversation among your website visitors, which can build community. When adding a Commenting feature, you control the level of involvement your organization will have in moderating these conversations. You can decide to auto-publish or self-publish Comments as they’re submitted. National Military Family Association offers comments on all of their Featured News articles:

National Military Family Association Featured Article with Comments section

You can also use the Facebook or Disqus commenting plugins, which can simultaneously begin a conversation on social networks. See an example of Disqus at the bottom of this post.

Share your Story

Going a step further from Comments, you can solicit quotes from your users to incorporate throughout your website. Project on Government Oversight does a great job displaying quotes from their donors on their Donate landing page:

Donate to POGO page with Donor Quotes

And why not offer a space for your most engaged constituents to share their Stories for your website? Riley Children’s Foundation features their patients’ “Riley Stories” all over their website:

Riley Children's Foundation Stories page with button to "Submit Your Riley Story"

What other forms of User-Generated Content have you seen that are successful? Whatever approach you choose, it’s sure to send a message to your constituents that you care and may also result in some of your best content yet.