As a nonprofit organization, you must make the most of all the resources available to you. You cannot afford to waste time, money, or assets. If your nonprofit website is not up to par, it is costing you all three.
Although knowing how to create an effective website effective may be a bit outside your job description, here are some steps you can take to get yours on the right path.
Your Website is the Central Mission Builder for Your Organization
Your nonprofit’s mission statement expresses the purpose of your organization, ideally within one line of text. Regardless of how voluminous your other promotional material may be, nothing you say will be more important than that single statement. In a similar way, your website is the single greatest tool you have in getting that message out. For many nonprofits, it’s the only way people can find the organization.
Realizing the value in funneling all of your mission-related activities through your site can help you direct your resources to have a more efficient and effective operation. Let’s look at three strategies that you can use to begin fully utilize your group’s most valuable resource.
For your site to be at the center of your organization’s efforts, you must begin using it as such. Your site should include an extensive FAQ page, to reduce the amount of valuable time staff members spend answering questions on the phone. Rather than spending funds on printed materials, use those funds to promote your site and put your promotional material there. Lastly, assign someone the responsibility of keeping the site current, and with making sure that if information goes anywhere it goes there.
Keep Website Front and Center
Websites are like any business; you must promote them or no one will know you are there. Make sure you website URL is prominently displayed on any printed material that you use, and mentioned in any ads or PSAs that you submit to radio or TV stations. In short, make promoting your site a priority and it, in turn, will promote your cause. Place well-written press releases on your site to announce when you are doing something new or when you have a success. Of course, you should also distribute those press releases to relevant news outlets.
Using well-planned campaigns to create awareness of special projects is an excellent way to attract visitors to your site. You cannot overdo, but a few campaigns as year can significantly increase your annual donations.
Your Website’s Core Purpose Should NOT be to Raise Money
Even though your nonprofit may exist for the sole purpose of raising charitable funds, you should not view your website as a money machine. In fact, making fundraising the focus of your website’s message can actually cost you donations.
It all comes down to human nature. People, by and large, are willing to give, if they know that their giving will make a difference in a cause they have been lead to care about. At the same time, we have a natural aversion to being asked to give. By writing your website to focus on cause first, and the financial need second, you can engage visitors long enough to make them care about your cause. And once they care, enticing them to give will be much easier.
Scientific research shows that people are more likely to give to charitable causes when they know specifically who will benefit from their gift. In order to get the most from your efforts, you will need to help your donors understand that real individuals will benefit from their gift. We don’t mean you should spatter your site with images of starving children, but you need to do your best to talk about those you are helping, rather than presenting your cause in a generic sense.
So what about nonprofits that do not help individuals? Perhaps it is not people you are trying to feed, but endangered species you are trying to protect, or environmental threats you are fighting against. The same point applies—talk about which species will be helped, describe which environmental threat you hope to curtail, explain whose human rights you aim to protect.
Essentially, don’t let your site be barrier between your potential donors and the cause you are promoting, but, rather, use it as a bridge between the two. You care about your cause; use your site to make others care as you do and the donations will follow.
Social Media Engagement is Key
It is no longer enough to pop a website up on the Web and list it with a few search engines. Today, that approach will get you nowhere. Love it or loathe it, social media is the key to driving traffic to your site and engaging visitors long enough to make a donation. Unless your nonprofit site has tie-in with the big three social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, you’re wasting time and valuable resources.
At last count, there are around 15 popular social media sites, though more than 50 exist with varying degrees of success. Successful promotion of your nonprofit efforts will come not from how many social media platforms you use, but which ones and how you use them. One creative tie-in with Facebook can bring more visitors to your site than twenty social media icons posted across your site.
So What Do You Do Now?
Now that you know what a successful nonprofit site entails, you may be wondering how best to transition your site from what it is into what it should be. Will it take time? You bet. Will you need to learn a lot more about the technical aspects of social media? Definitely. Will you screw it up? Many organizations have done so.
Your solution may well lie in hiring an expert. KDG specializes in developing creative and robust website platforms for higher education and nonprofit organizations. We can provide you as little or as much help as you need, from updating your nonprofit site to developing a powerful new platform that is built from the ground up to embrace social media.
You cause deserves the best you can give it. For your website, that would be KDG. Why not contact us, today, for a free evaluation?