How to Get Your Website in Good Shape

34494849676_9097f32ac4_mThe internet is still most people’s go-to place to get information. Unlike social media, you control your website. Therefore, yours needs to be in good shape. This means it’s up-to-date, easy to read and navigate, welcoming, and audience-centered.

How does your website fare? Use the checklist below to find out.

Home page

Your home page is often the first place a newcomer will visit. Make it an entryway to the rest of your website.

  • Is it free of clutter and easy to navigate and read?
  • Does it include an engaging photo and a small amount of text, such as a tagline or position statement?
  • If you’re highlighting something such as an event, is the information up-to-date, and is it the most newsworthy item you can feature?
  • Does it include a Donate Now button that’s prominent without being tacky?
  • Does it include a newsletter sign-up box and social media icons?
  • Does it include your organization’s contact information or a link to a Contact Us page?
  • Is the navigation bar easy to use?
  • Does it include a search feature?

Donation page

Many people donate online. This needs to be a good experience for your donors. You don’t want to stress them out with a cumbersome and confusing donation page.

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for monthly/recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?

The rest of your pages

Be sure to take a look at the rest of your web pages, too.

  • Are they easy to read/scan and navigate?
  • Do all your pages have a consistent look?
  • Is the content well written in a conversational style (no jargon!) and free of grammatical errors and typos?
  • Are your pages audience-centered? Remember, some visitors know you well and others don’t. A person visiting your volunteer page may not know much about your organization, so you’ll need to include a compelling description of what you do.
  • Do your pages contain a clear call to action? For example, your volunteer page should entice someone to volunteer.
  • Does each page have one or two photos related to its subject matter? Going back to your volunteer page, you could include a photo of volunteers interacting with clients.
  • Is all the content up-to-date?
  • Do all your links work?
  • Do all your pages include a Donate Now button, navigation bar, social media icons, a newsletter sign-up box, contact information, and a search feature, so your visitors don’t have to go back to the home page?
  • Are you using analytics to see how often people visit your pages? If you have pages that aren’t generating a lot of interest, find out why that’s happening. You may need to make the page more engaging or take it down.
  • Do you periodically survey your supporters to get feedback about your website?
  • Is your website mobile-friendly? This is crucial. Using responsive design will help. 7 Steps To Ensure Your Nonprofit Has A Mobile-Friendly Website
  • Is there other content you should include (or take out)?

After you’ve made all your changes, have someone who isn’t as familiar with your organization (maybe a friend or family member) look at your website to see if the content is clear and that it’s easy to navigate.

Your goal is to have a website that’s welcoming and audience-centered for everyone from first-time visitors to long-time donors.

Read on for more information to help you get your website in good shape.

Nonprofit Web Design: 6 User-Experience Best Practices

25 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

Image by Petr Sejba  www.moneytoplist.com

 

Advertisements

How to Bring Simplicity and Balance to Your Nonprofit Communications

3085229060_5edb1aac00_m

Lagom is a Swedish concept meaning everything in moderation or not too much, not too little. Keeping things simple. This is not to be confused with the Danish concept of Hygge, which means getting cozy. Not surprisingly there isn’t an English translation of these terms, even though they are much needed in our overstressed world.

The term lagom can be used in almost any context – the home, relationships, work, etc.

You can bring this concept of simplicity and balance into your nonprofit communications, too. Here’s how.

How much communication is too much

Most likely you’re not communicating enough. Communication is a year-round effort that includes asking, thanking, sharing updates, and engaging your donors.

Of course, asking is part of the picture and you can send appeals throughout the year, but only after you’ve thanked and engaged your donors.

You’ll notice at the end of the year you’re barraged with fundraising appeals. Then at other times of the year you might receive a scant newsletter or update. Donors often complain that nonprofits ask too much, but how often do you hear complaints about being overthanked?

You need to be thanking your donors and sharing updates every one to two weeks – once a month at the very least.

Donors shouldn’t think you’re communicating too much if you aren’t just asking for money and you keep your messages donor-centered.

How to tell if you’re mailing your donors too often

Stick to one call to action

Your communication needs to be clear. Before you send an email or letter, ask what is your intention? Is it to ask for a donation, say thank you, invite someone to an event, or recruit volunteers?

Stick to one call to action. If you ask for a donation, recruit volunteers, and ask someone to contact their elected officials all in the same message, it’s likely your donor won’t respond to any of your requests.

In your fundraising appeals, don’t bury your ask. Start with a story, followed by a clear, polite ask. Recognize your reader. Thank previous donors and invite potential donors to be a part of your family of donors.

Your thank you letter should thank the donor. Simple, right? Make them feel good about giving to your organization. Welcome new donors and welcome back returning donors. You don’t need a lot of wordy text explaining what your organization does.

Keep your messages simple, yet sincere, and include a clear call to action.

How to improve your call to action in 6 easy steps

Choose the right length

If your communication is too long, people won’t read it. Limit written communication, such as newsletters and annual reports, to four pages or less. Your email messages should be just a few paragraphs. On the other hand, you don’t want to be terse or say too little.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Mark Twain

Be sure to make your communication easy to read and scan by including lots of white space. Don’t clutter up the page.

Make it understandable

Write at a sixth to eighth-grade level. That’s what most major newspapers do. This is not dumbing down. You’re being smart by ensuring your donors will understand you.

Last week I wrote one of my periodic rants against jargon, which you should definitely avoid.  Deconstructing Your Jargon Use the active voice and don’t get fancy by using a lot of SAT vocabulary words. Again, you want your donors to understand you.

Keep it simple by using conversational language.

Create a clutter-free website

Your website is still a place where people will go to get information. Make sure it’s clear and clutter-free, as well as easy to read and navigate.

Two components of your website that need simplicity and balance are your donation page and your thank you landing page.

Your donation page needs to be easy to use and collect enough information without overwhelming your donors. If it’s a branded page (e.g. not a third-party site like PayPal), make sure it’s consistent with your messaging and look. Don’t go too minimalistic, though. Include a short description of how a donor’s gift will help you make a difference, as well as an engaging photo.

15 Donation Page Examples to Inspire Your Online Fundraising

Speaking of minimalistic, most thank you landing pages go bare bones and look more like store receipts. Here you have to step it up with a prominent Thank You or You’re Amazing! Include a photo or better yet, a thank you video.

21 Ideas For Your Nonprofit’s Donation Confirmation Page

It’s not always easy to keep things simple and balanced, but your donors will appreciate it if you do. The Complexity of Simplicity

 

 

 

Increasing Donations: The Essential Ingredients of Effective Nonprofit Web Design

2474481532_2493a0b1c3_m

By Dishan Jay

Good web design is a bit like clean air. You never really think of it, until the garbage truck passes you by and you realize how indispensable it is. It’s often dismissed until lack of it becomes a hazard. The same thing happens with nonprofits and design. It gets overlooked, downright ignored in favor of something basic just to “get things out there,” because often“there simply isn’t a budget for fancy stuff.”

But that’s the biggest – and to be fair – the easiest mistake to make, thinking that an effective design is also fancy. Good design has a purpose without it being obvious. Great design drives people’s attention to the right details, steers the visitor’s eyes to the donate button, or gives the visitor a subconscious impulse help out.

The truth is, as human beings, we want to identify with something, or we want to be distracted by the things we access online, and if that doesn’t happen within the first few seconds, we’re going to go somewhere else to get that.

And we do. Social media, AI, augmented reality, and virtual reality are all becoming parts of a larger new design trend with some more common, yet very effective and useful concepts and design patterns, a few of which you could call proven recipes for success in getting more user engagement and thus more donations.

There are a number of straight-forward concepts you can use on your nonprofit’s site, so you’ll increase donation chances every time a website visitor lands on it.

Tell your story right from the start: on your Homepage

While there are other nonprofits with a similar mission as yours, your story can differentiate you from the crowd. You are the only one who can share your story, so why not draw web visitors’ attention to the “story” part of your website?

Alex’s Lemonade Stand’s homepage does not go unnoticed. They convey the right message while using lively colors to grab a visitor’s attention.

They also support their story with images and testimonials, which demonstrate their hard work, so that visitors won’t feel they are being taught about how great their cause is. After all, stories appeal much more to the emotional side of human nature.

Alex's Lemonade Stand

Additionally, a nonprofit might feature bright colors to grab a visitor’s attention, just like The GETTS Foundation does, portraying their story in an easy to follow way.

Getts Foundation

 

Takeaways: Choose beautiful color palettes that grab attention and convey your story using facts combined with an emotional connection.

Your donation form – keep it simple

Due to their hidden donation forms, usually tucked under menus or other pages, many nonprofits reduce the number of donations they could receive, making it a difficult and time-consuming activity for users who are generally on the hunt for specific information.

Furthermore, they complicate their donation forms by adding too many fields, and donors really hate completing long forms.

So, grab their attention right from the start and make sure to limit your donation form to only a few important fields. Charity water’s donation form is a perfect “How to”example.

With a minimalist design, its strong imagery and message supports their reason for giving.

 

Charity Water

Furthermore, it is limited to a small number of fields, which appeals to donors who want to donate right away rather than being forced to complete multiple required fields, which would only increase the chances of someone abandoning the process and never end up donating.

So, don’t distract donors by overfilling your form with useless information and keep both your donation form and page simple and straightforward.

Also, don’t forget to make it even simpler for mobile devices. Reduce the donor’s need to zoom by optimizing it with easy-to-click buttons and a vertical layout.

Another great way to improve your donation form is to use giving levels. Take Livestrong’s donation form for example. Your goal is to get people to give larger amounts of money than they’d donate if they wouldn’t receive suggested giving amounts.

If you start your giving levels from $20, $30 and so forth, the donor might round up and give $20 instead of $15. You can also include a box for “other” if people decide to donate a different amount.

Livestrong

Takeaways: Simplify. Make the action of donating easy: for the best user experience possible, stick to one image situated at the top of the form or in the background, add a few sentences of reasons to donate, and keep your donation form concise.

Add social proof and gain more donors

By placing a social proof, you can persuade a prospective donor to join others who have already supported your cause. Alex’s Lemonade Stand is definitely attracting new donors with this tactic. It’s simple, people care about what others recommend.

ALSF

Takeaways: You can increase the visibility of your nonprofit and its credibility by tapping into social proof to also gain new donors.

Stop neglecting your website’s footer   

Your ultimate goal is not only to gain trust, but also continuing support from your visitors, so you have to pay attention to your website’s footer as well.

The footer is your last opportunity to get users to where you need them to go, while also giving them important information. The Case Foundation connects with their visitors by letting them receive ongoing information on several topics if they subscribe.

Case Foundation

Takeaways: Stick to relatively minimal information in your footer to convert into subscriptions.

What actions would you like your visitors to take? Be it donating, signing up for your newsletter, or Social Media appreciations, your nonprofit website should be designed around these specific actions. So, be sure you make those “calls to action” obvious. Also, don’t forget to tell your story simply and clearly. Hopefully, these tips will help you maximize the value you can get from each person who visits your website.

Dishan Jay is the founder of DG Studio, a Los Angeles based digital agency that develops websites and apps, and executes marketing strategies plus storytelling and design techniques around them. Dishan Jay

Is Donating Online as Easy as Pie?

3062406535_cf83c41981_m

Year-end giving is in full swing and even if you’ve mailed your appeal letter, many people will choose to donate online. Chances are you’ll send most of your reminders by email and social media with a link to the donation page on your website.

That means online giving on your website needs to be easy to do. It’s tricky because you want to capture vital information without overwhelming your donors. 5 Donation Page Blunders That Kill Fundraising Response Rates

Use this checklist to make sure your donation page is ready for your online donors.

  • Is it easy to use and navigate?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • Does it allow for multiple donors, for example, spouses with different last names?
  • Does it include an option for a gift in memory or in honor of someone?
  • Are you capturing mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers?
  • Does it include a check-off box to join your mailing list?
  • Is it also easy to give on a mobile device?  This is crucial. More people are donating on mobile devices now. Getting Started with Mobile Fundraising: 5 Ways
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?
  • Does your homepage include a blurb about your appeal and a prominent Donate button, in case a donor Googles your organization instead of going directly to your donation page?
  • Is the rest of your website up-to-date and engaging? Donors might visit other pages to find out more about your programs or learn how they can volunteer. Is Your Website Up to Par?

Test it out

Put yourself in your donors’ shoes by donating to your organization online. Try it on a computer and a mobile device. Remember not all your donors are tech savvy. You might want to find someone who’s also not tech savvy to test it out.

Was it easy or did you feel like kicking and screaming?

Create a memorable thank you experience

If you’ve ever donated online, you know the thank you experience often doesn’t leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. This is easy to fix.

Start with an engaging landing page that says You’re amazing! or Thank you,Susan! Include a picture and a short, friendly message. An online donation should also generate an equally engaging thank you email.

You’re not off the hook yet. You still need to thank your donors by mail or with a phone call.

3 Things Your Nonprofit Must Do Well After An Online Donation

The perils of third-party sites

If you use a third-party site, such as PayPal, you don’t have much, if any, control over how the donation page and thank you experience will look and work. To make up for this, you’ll want to send a super-incredible thank you email, followed by something just as incredible by mail or phone.

Are you ready?

Be sure your donation page is in good shape for your year-end fundraising campaign, and throughout the year. Make it as easy as pie for your donors to give online.

Read on for more information on creating a great donation page.

7 Ways to Upgrade Your Nonprofit Donation Page

8 Best Practices for Building an Online Donation Page

And, if you’re looking for an online donation platform, here’s some information on that. 15 Online Donation Tools to Please Your Nonprofit’s Donors

Getting Started with Mobile Fundraising: 5 Ways

13969611575_3ae7b6d048_m

By Eric Griego

Almost everyone has a mobile phone these days and that includes your donors. Imagine they’ll see your next fundraising email appeal on their phone and decide to donate right then. Will they be able to do that without getting so frustrated that they’ll want to smash their phones to pieces?

Before we get knee-deep into year-end fundraising season,take some time to get up to speed with mobile fundraising. Eric Griego from @pay shows you how.

Mobile fundraising is a craze that’s sweeping the nation. And if you’re a nonprofit professional that’s curious about how you can jump on this exciting bandwagon, you’re in the right place!

In this article, we’re going to discuss 5 of the top ways to make mobile fundraising a part of your organization’s strategy.

Let’s dive right in!

#1. Upgrade Your Email Strategy for Mobile.

First things first, you have to get your emails in line.

Because Americans spend an average of 6.3 hours a day checking their emails, you’d better believe it’s important to make your emails stand out.

And where are they checking their inboxes most often? You guessed it: on their mobile phones!

That’s why it’s doubly crucial to make sure that all of your correspondence is mobile-responsive and mobile-friendly.

Some easy-to-follow best practices for ensuring this include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Stack content vertically instead of horizontally,
  • Limit the amount of text and large images,
  • Enlarge buttons and calls-to-action,
  • And ensure a quick loading speed,

A couple of these strategies will require more work than others to incorporate, but at the end of the day, it’s vital to invest in your mobile email strategy if you want to launch a successful mobile giving campaign.

For more concrete advice on re-vamping your emails, check out @Pay’s guide to email newsletters.

#2. Investigate Text-to-Give Technology.

Another big piece of the mobile fundraising puzzle is text-to-give fundraising.

Text-to-give technology lets users text their favorite nonprofit (that’s you!) with the donation amount of their choice, and voila! Their gift is submitted!

An example would be a donor has simply texted the number “10” to a Disaster Relief Fund’s text-to-give number. They’ve clicked on the link that was automatically sent to them to confirm their payment, and the nonprofit has sent them an immediate, “Thanks!”

Texting to give is a short, intuitive process that takes less time than tying your shoes.

And it’s an absolute myth that young people are the only ones that text to donate.

In fact, the average text-to-give donor is 49-59 years old and has a college degree.

All of this is just to say that when you’re looking into getting started with mobile fundraising, don’t discount text-to-give technology.

It’s a simple, swift, and — best of all — secure way for your donors to give on the go.

#3. Give Your Website a Mobile Refresher.

Just as you should probably re-boot your email strategy, you should also take a second glance at your nonprofit’s website to make sure that your online giving options translate well to mobile.

Again, you’ll go through a lot of the same procedures as you would when you’re updating your email systems for mobile-responsiveness.

You’ll still want to make sure that the contents of your website stack neatly and vertically on a phone. This will ensure that no one has to pinch, zoom, or swipe around in order to read and navigate your site effectively.

You may also want to figure out an interesting way to tell your nonprofit’s story through mobile-friendly visuals.

But make sure you’re still limiting the number of large images, as they tend to bog down loading times. Striking the right balance is hard, but not impossible!

To read more best practices for sprucing up your nonprofit’s website, click here.

#4. Make Mobile Fundraising a Part of Every Day.

One of the most important facets of mobile fundraising is that it allows your donors to be able to communicate with you from wherever they are, whenever they’d like.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why you should consider making mobile giving a part of your everyday strategy.

From live fundraising events to direct appeals and so much more, your nonprofit can incorporate every kind of mobile giving into your plans.

For instance, if you’re hosting an auction, you might consider looking into mobile bidding technology.

And if you’re trying to ramp up your year-end giving, you may want to research the ways that email donation buttons can significantly increase annual gifts.

Not to mention the kind of funds that launching a text-to-give campaign at a benefit concert could raise!

If you need further advice on buying software, consult @Pay’s informative article.

#5. Incorporate Mobile into Your Stewardship.  

Nothing is more important than giving your donors a great thank-you experience.

And with mobile giving technology, your nonprofit can make that goal a reality.

Before the advent of online fundraising, a donor would have to mail in a check or submit one in person (at a gala or other event) and then wait a few days (or weeks, in some cases) to hear that the organization appreciated their donation.

Now, when a donor makes a mobile contribution, the software automatically sends back at least one message of thanks within a few minutes!

And setting that automated message is as easy as apple pie.

In addition to setting up automatic messages of gratitude, your organization can (and should!) also be prepared with personalized email messages to send out to your mobile donors.

You don’t want to leave the conversation with just a “Thanks!” You want to demonstrate to those supporters that their gifts are instrumental to your cause.

So be sure to draft up several different digital letters of thanks throughout the year.

Update your email messages with current project info, real photos of progress, and most of all, sincere words of gratitude.

Because when you thank your donors promptly and personally, you end up with happy, loyal supporters!

Hopefully, this article has enlightened you on some of the ways that you can get started with and incorporate mobile fundraising into your existing strategy.

Until next time, happy fundraising!

Eric Griego is the Director of Business Development at @Pay, a simple Eric Griego Headshotand secure giving platform that provides donors a seamless way to give on a mobile device. He has implemented effective fundraising strategies for hundreds of Nonprofit & Church organizations. In his spare time, he roots for the Denver Broncos while enjoying a nice craft beer.

iPhone photo by Martin Halek

Why Does Giving to Your Organization Feel Like a Transaction and Not a Relationship?

506328659_22260c5bb2_zFor the last couple of years, I’ve done my year-end giving online on #GivingTuesday.  The day before I purchased Christmas gifts on Cyber Monday, and there wasn’t much difference in the process.

Is it #GivingTuesday or Asking Tuesday?

On #GivingTuesday I was inundated with emails asking for donations, just like the day before I was barraged with emails from Amazon and Zappos.  I know organizations are trying to capitalize on #GivingTuesday, but it was more like Asking Tuesday.

I was told I only had a few hours left to give. Really?  But this isn’t the only day to give. If you’re going to stress urgency, focus on the need of your recipients and not your organization.

I saw very few hints of any type of relationship. Only one organization recognized me as a past donor. Your generosity makes the work we do possible

Many emails began with the dreaded Dear Friend.  Some of these came from large organizations that should be able to afford a database that personalizes salutations.

Some organizations stressed the importance of being a part of #GivingTuesday.  Why is that important? I would rather be a part of helping you make a difference for the people you serve.

Your donors don’t want to receive an appeal when they’ve already donated.  At the very least include a thank you like this – We want to extend a huge THANK YOU to those who have already given.

You can do better by opening your appeal with a story and thanking donors for their past support. Give donors a compelling reason to give and focus more on the relationship and not the transaction.

I’m not the only one who felt this way.  COULD DECEMBER BE THE MONTH WHEN YOU WILL LOSE THE MOST DONORS?

A receipt is not a thank you

When I shop online, I don’t expect the receipt I receive to be as warm and fuzzy as the sweaters I just purchased, but I do expect something personal after I make a donation.

Your thank you landing page is a chance for you to make a good first impression and that doesn’t always happen, especially on some third party sites.

Here’s an example that’s pretty blah.

DONATION CONFIRMED
Thank you for your generous gift to
DONATION SUMMARY AND RECEIPT

.

This one’s a little better, although I would nix the On the behalf of ……

Thank You!

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and staff at X, thank you for your generous online contribution.


Even better

Thank you Ann!

None of the email thank you messages I received knocked my socks off. Here are two openings that are particularly bad.

Thank you for making a donation to x

Here’s an acknowledgment – you should keep this for your records:


 

Thank you for your donation to x

If you have any questions about your donation, please email x and reference number 151201134525.

Yes, I’m feeling the love right now.

But all hope is not lost. I received a follow up thank you email a few days later with the subject line

You #CrushedIt on Giving Tuesday

Almost every online donation I made felt like a transaction. I know you need to include the donation summary and tax ID information, but put that at the end of your thank letter, after you tell your donors they’re amazing.

Donor Relations Guru Lynne Webster has some additional insights #GivingTuesday 2015, and here are some ways to give your donors a better thank you experience. Don’t Treat Thanking Your Donors as an Afterthought

Keep this in mind for all your appeals, especially the ones you send at the end of December.

Focus on the relationship, not the transaction.

Photo by Paul Downey

Online Giving Should Be Painless

3011214544_1b2caaed10_z

Even if you mail your appeal letter, many people will donate online. If you’re sending reminders by email and social media, you’ll also include a link to the donation page on your website.

That means online giving on your website needs to be painless. It’s tricky because you want to capture vital information without overwhelming your donors. 7 things that might be killing your donation forms

Use this checklist to make sure your donation page is ready for your online donors.

  • Is it easy to use and navigate?
  • Does it include a strong call to action with the same messages as all your other fundraising appeals?
  • Does it show how the donation will be used and what different amounts will fund?
  • Does it include an option for recurring gifts?
  • Does it have an engaging photo?
  • Does it allow for multiple donors, for example spouses with different last names?
  • Does it include an option for a gift in memory or in honor of someone?
  • Are you capturing mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers?
  • Does it include a check-off box to join your mailing list?
  • Is it also easy to give on a mobile device?  This is crucial. More people are donating on mobile devices now.
  • After someone donates, does it take the person to a thank you landing page and generate a thank you email?
  • Does your homepage include a blurb about your appeal and a prominent Donate button, in case a donor Googles your organization instead of going directly to your donation page?
  • Is the rest of your website up-to-date and engaging? Donors might visit other pages to find out more about your programs or learn how they can volunteer. Is Your Website in Good Shape?

Test it out

Put yourself in your donors’ shoes by donating to your organization online. Try it on a computer, tablet, and mobile phone. Was it painless or did you want to tear your hair out?

Create a memorable thank you experience

If you’ve ever donated online, you know the thank you experience often leaves you with an empty feeling. It doesn’t have to be like that.

Start with an engaging landing page that says You’re amazing! or Thank you, Tom! Include a picture and a short, friendly message. An online donation should also generate an equally engaging thank you email.

You’re not off the hook yet. You still need to thank your donors by mail or with a phone call.

3 Things Your Nonprofit Must Do Well After An Online Donation

The perils of third-party sites

If you use a third-party site, such as PayPal, you don’t have much, if any, control over how the donation page and thank you experience will look and work. To make up for this, you’ll want to send a super-incredible thank you email, followed by something just as incredible by mail or phone.

Be ready

Be sure your website is in good shape for your year-end fundraising campaign. Make it painless for your donors to give online.

Here is more information on creating a great donation page.

19 Ways to Raise More Money From Donation Pages

7 Tips for Your Online Donation Page