Give Your Nonprofit a Voice: Using Alexa Skills to Grow Your Organization

Smart speakers and other voice devices are everywhere. It’s highly likely that most people you know have at least one voice-enabled device such as an Amazon Echo or even an iPhone with Siri. You probably have your own, too! Every day, more and more people expect to find information by simply saying, “Alexa, [insert a command].” Now is the time to embrace voice technology. Don’t wait any longer!

Our very own Nathan Ho presented a webinar about building Alexa skills. Watch the replay here for expert insights into the benefits of creating a voice skill for your organization. Keep reading if you’d like a brief overview of how (and why) voice skills are important in today’s world for nonprofits and businesses alike.

To begin, what’s the big deal with voice anyways?

Simply stated: voice is pervasive. Several companies have released products with voice interface systems such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Microsoft’s Cortana. Many products use voice, too; think smartphones, cars or houses, augmented reality, and virtual reality - even devices like microwaves and refrigerators. Voice-enabled devices are growing exponentially.

Here are a few statistics to get you thinking seriously about voice skills:
• ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be through voice.
• Microsoft predicted that by 2020, 75% of households will have smart speakers.

Voice is everywhere and now is the perfect time for your organization to develop an Alexa skill. Here at Five Q, we believe that making your content accessible via voice is just as important as everything else in your digital strategy; right up there with mobile responsive sites, analytics, social media, and SEO.

Even more compelling for nonprofits is the fact that Amazon has created an avenue for nonprofits to accept donations through Alexa. Currently, this program does not have open enrollment, but we predict that it will be open to all organizations in the future. How exciting is that?!

So, how do you get started setting up an Alexa skill?

Step 1: If your organization is a 501(c)3 non-profit, then sign up for an Amazon Smile account at org.amazon.com. Regardless, also look into signing up as an Amazon Affiliate at affiliate-program.amazon.com/welcome.

If your organization accepts donations online, Amazon Smile is a great program to be a part of. Every time someone buys something through Amazon Smile, a small percentage of their payment can be automatically donated to you, if they have chosen you as their selected organization.

If you don’t collect donations online, sign up to become an Amazon-affiliated nonprofit. You can link to or recommend products on Amazon, and every time someone buys one of those products, you can receive up to 10% of the price.

Step 2: Identify your key content.

Your key content is what your audience is most interested in—not necessarily what you want them to be interested in, but what brings them to your organization or website. Look at your website to see what topics users are searching for the most. This may include specific topics like marriage, blogs, podcasts, videos, resources pages, or sermons. Look for any content that lends itself to being communicated by voice, and is updated on a regular basis - or has repeat value.

Step 3: Identify the features necessary to promote this key content through a voice device.

Is the content in a question/answer format? Is it a news story or blog post? Maybe you want to offer a service through Alexa, or let users add your event to their schedules. People can also purchase products through the Amazon Echo! And now, a new wave of smart speakers have screens, so you could add a video or other visuals to your Alexa Skill.

Now that’s a lot of information...

Luckily our team at Five Q can help you create a custom Alexa skill that will get you in the voice arena. We offer custom Alexa skill development, podcast skills, skill hosting, and voice user input development for both the Amazon Echo and Google Home devices. Check out these Alexa podcast skills we created for Revive Our Hearts and Got Questions. Go ahead and try them out!

Are you ready to create your own Alexa skill? Get started today.