A website is no longer an option but a minimum requirement for having a viable and sustainable nonprofit organization. Think of your website as your “online business”. Every organization should have one… period.
Creating and maintaining a website that provides a positive visitor experience with relevant SEO-friendly content, easy navigation, and a means to conduct transactions, are keys to success. Your website also needs to be “mobile-friendly” as phone and tablet usage surpasses conventional computers in all sectors and demographics. And you’ll need to secure your website using an SSL, regardless of whether you accept online donations.
Whether your website is state-of-the-art or super-simple, you ultimately need to ensure that it works FOR your fundraising efforts and not against them.
About Us – Who, What, Where, When and Why?
Your website should reassure potential donors that you are a legitimate mission-based organization and that you can legally accept donations. The “About Us” page is perfect for this and is often the most visited page after the home page. You’ll want to include:
- A brief history of who the organization is its value proposition
- Your organization’s mission statement
- A brief summary of your services and the constituency you serve
- Agency contact information: Full name of your organization, street address, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail
- Your 501(c)(3) nonprofit status
You can go well beyond this, of course, but this key information needs to be on your site and easy to find.
Donate Now, Donate How
Create a “Donate Now” page accessible through prominent links throughout your website. Make sure to include the following:
- How donations help you help your constituency
- All the ways that your organization accepts donations:
- Identify who a check is payable to and include the complete mailing address. Include this even if the mailing address is in your page heading or footer. Make it as easy as possible for donors to give.
- If you accept online donations, explain how (credit card, PayPal, third-party websites, etc.) and provide the links or form.
- Describe any other methods of donation, such as giving programs and wish lists, and include instructions for participating.
- Include an e-mail address and phone number for donors to contact you about donations. These are people you want to hear from!
- A sincere thank you: express your appreciation right from the start.
Blogging & Video
Nothing helps your organization get found and generate leads better than a vibrant and consistently maintained blog. When you write an informative article, share a case study (short story), express an opinion, or engage your audience with content that’s grounded in your mission, search engines like Google LOVE it and rank your site higher in the process. One to two blog articles per week, with word lengths in the 700-1000 range, have the most impact.
Whenever possible, try to include video in your blog posts. You don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money on production – much of the best content is captured from someone’s smart phone at those opportune moments – but be advised to represent your organization in the appropriate light. Candid is often more captivating than canned when the true spirit and passion of the moment is captured.
Getting The Most Out Of Your Website
Your website doesn’t have to be state-of-the-art to be effective. Reliable, useful information that’s easy to find and easy to read is your top priority. In addition, check that nothing on your website detracts from your professionalism. Pay attention to these basics:
- Your information is current. Nothing discourages a donor more than going to a website and seeing an invitation to an event that took place six months ago. Unless you have someone who will update your website regularly, don’t include any time-sensitive information. Ideally, you want to be able to keep your website current, but, if you can’t, a simple informational site is a great place to start.
- Your website’s colors, fonts, and page layouts make information easy to find and to read.
- Your content is spell-checked. (Yes, spelling counts if you want to be considered professional.)
- Your photos are positive. Negative or disturbing images will discourage many people from looking any further on your site.
- Your photos are in focus and close up.
- Your website contains a privacy statement, especially if you have sign-up forms, online registration, or online donations. Spell out how you use and protect the data you collect from the website. Include instructions for unsubscribing from e-newsletters and e-mails.
- Search Engine Optimization – The most strategic and powerful function of your website is to be easily found on search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. The Internet is how people search, research, and discover your organization. Referred to as SEO, the rules of good SEO are primarily dictated by the search engines themselves, particularly Google the most dominant player.
Having trouble telling your nonprofit organization’s story? We can help! Contact us for more information.