Wed, December 18 2013
Filed under: Websites and web usability •
Last week I shared several ways to get your nonprofit’s website ready for year-end fundraising. Hopefully you’ve been able to put at least a few of these tips into practice. If a website redesign is on your to-do list for 2014, these elements should be top of mind. Of course, there is a lot more to consider when taking on a major website project.
To help you understand the process, the folks at Wired Impact have created a nifty infographic that summarizes the key steps in designing your nonprofit website. Check it out below and post a comment to share what’s on your website wish list for the coming year.
(Can’t see the infographic?
Visit Wired Impact to download the full image.)
Tue, December 17 2013
Filed under: Fun stuff •
Network for Good is once again providing year-end giving data for The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2013 Year-End Online Giving Tracker. You can use this resource to see how online giving is stacking up each day of December and to compare those numbers with the last few years. To supply the data for the tracker, we looked at a set of 14,300 charities who received donations through Network for Good’s online giving platform. You can view this data by month, by week, or look at the entire span of information from November 1st through the end of the year.
Check it out by visiting The Chronicle’s site, and let us know how the trends compare to your own year-end fundraising results.
Fri, December 13 2013
As part of Network for Good’s Fundraising Fundamentals premium training, I am reviewing a lot of nonprofit websites to offer feedback and suggestions for improvement. While most of these sites are not “broken” in the technical sense, many of them are broken when we look at them through a fundraising lens. Without clear paths to donate to your cause, your website is working against your fundraising efforts. This is especially dangerous in December when donors are making more gifts online than in any other month.
Whether or not your donors give online through your website, many will be visiting your nonprofit’s website to learn more about your organization. This month, your nonprofit home page should be all about year-end fundraising. You need to make sure your online presence gives prospective donors a fast and easy way to find out more about your programs, understand where the money goes, and (of course) DONATE.
So, in these last few critical weeks of the year, give your site a once over to see if it’s broken in the fundraising sense. Want to make it better? Here are some fast fundraising fixes for getting more donations this December:
Keep it big, bold, and above the fold.
This is what all good donate buttons should strive to be. Your buttons should stand out and be large enough to find and click within a few seconds of landing on your website. It should look like a button and give donors a visual cue that it is clickable.
Miriam’s Kitchen has a nicely-placed, large donate button that is obviously clickable and stands out from the rest of their page:
Take donors directly to your form.
When donors click on your donate button, don’t take them on the scenic route. Send them directly to your form and make sure that it is optimized for giving. Your page should make the donation process simple and rewarding. (Make sure your donation page is ready for prime time with these tips.)
Offer more than one path to give.
Include multiple donate links on your home page (and other key pages) that go straight to your donation form. Use a combination of buttons, text links, and headlines to appeal to all types of visitors. Generally, more links mean more traffic to your donation page.
Best Friends Animal Society offers three ways for people to immediately give right from their home page:
Make your donation page only one click away.
Along the same lines, visitors should never be more than one click away from your donation page at all times. Keep the option to give visible and easily accessible no matter where a visitor is on your site.
Use consistent language for buttons and links.
Be explicit and don’t make donors wonder what you’re asking them to do. Focus on one of the following words: Give, Donate, or Contribute—and stick to that one word throughout the donation process. Asking people to join is problematic unless membership is truly the core of your organization. Asking people to support you is largely meaningless to most users and does not signify giving.
Use a home page takeover.
Also known as a lightbox, splash screen, pop-up, or even “homepage hijack.” Whatever name you prefer, this is a special version of your home page that has a sole purpose of generating donations. A year-end takeover should be bold and clear and offer no more than three options: donate now, learn more, and click to the usual home page. Some organizations have had success in making the splash screen the actual donation form. These types of takeovers should go up at least for the last week of the year.
Here’s a wonderful example from Habitat for Humanity New York City:
Don’t have the option to add a lightbox to your website this month? There are other easy ways to make your home page focused on fundraising. N Street Village‘s home page is a great example of how to incorporate this same idea into your existing website design.
(For more on how you can incorporate lightboxes into your year-end website plans, Pamela Grow has some advice and Mandy O’Neill of Connected Nonprofit shares how and why lightboxes work.)
Show where the money goes.
If you don’t have it already, create a simple “Why Donate” page and provide links to this page from your “About Us” section, home page, and donation form. On this page, include easy-to-understand pie charts and clear descriptions of where your money comes from and where it goes. Add links to your full financials and your annual report. Use reader-friendly language that a donor can quickly scan and understand in under 30 seconds. No jargon or complicated (read: boring) copy that makes donors’ eyes glaze over.
Highlight your endorsements.
Testimonials, ratings, and seals of approval are all powerful cues that tell potential donors that yours is an organization that they can trust, because others are willing to speak on your behalf. Showcase these on your home page, your donation page, as well as your “Why Donate” page.
Don’t forget about mobile.
With a high number of people reading email on mobile devices, the key landing pages of your website, and your donation forms, need to be mobile friendly and easy to use on smartphones. Keeping things uncluttered and focused on one clear call to action will help. (Find out how to make your nonprofit’s website mobile friendly with these simple tweaks.)
Taking care of these website must-haves will help your organization make the most of its year-end campaign. Happy Fundraising!
For more tips on making your nonprofit website the best it can be, download our free ebook: How to Create an Effective Nonprofit Website.
Tue, December 10 2013
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Need help with your final appeals of the year? There’s still time to register for our free webinar happening today.
Here’s what I’ll cover in this session:
—How many messages you need to send these last few weeks of the year
—What you must include in your appeals to inspire giving
—When to send your appeals for maximum impact
—Examples of great appeals for you to copy
—Plus, we’ll leave plenty of time for your questions
Bonus: If you register for the webinar, you’ll not only get the recording and slides from the session, we’ll send you a free copy of our year-end appeal template to help you craft your final appeals. (Or, you can use it to check the messages you already have scheduled.)
I hope to see you there!
Free Webinar: Create Amazing Last-Minute Fundraising Appeals
TODAY: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1pm EST
(Can’t attend the live session? Register anyway and we’ll send the recording of the presentation, slides, and free appeal template straight to your inbox!)
Fri, December 06 2013
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
In a recent review of U.S. Trust’s Insights on Wealth and Worth report on wealthy donors, The New York Times shared three key reasons why donors don’t give. While the report focused on those who have at least $3 million in investable assets, it’s not hard to imagine that these reasons are similar for donors of all income levels. Here are three reasons donors may opt not to give to your organization this December, and some ways you can address their concerns:
Donors are concerned their gift will not be used wisely.
If a donor is unsure about how their gift will be used or if there is any question that their gift will be put to good use, they’re not going to respond to your fundraising appeal. It’s critical that you let donors know the impact their gift will have. Here’s how to do it:
- Be clear about how their gift will be used. Give would-be donors tangible examples of how their donations will be used to address the problem you’re trying to solve. Let them know how their dollars will make an impact and be clear about the expected result. (More ideas on how to show the impact of a donation.)
- Show your results. Highlight what results have already been made possible by other donors and continue to report on your organization’s work. If it’s not easy to find stories and photos that illustrate your progress, donors may assume you have none to share.
- Share your ratings. Include your ratings and endorsements in your fundraising appeals, on your website, and in printed materials. These ratings reassure donors and let them know that you’re a reputable organization.
- Make your information readily available. Make your ratings, annual reports, program information and other financial reports easily accessible from your website. Don’t make potential donors have to hunt for the information that will help them make a decision about your cause. Be sure to also update your information on 3rd-party sites, like Charity Navigator and Guidestar, where many donors will go to research your charity.
Donors feel they have no connection to your charity.
For your appeals to be effective, you must answer the question of “Why me?” Your need alone is not enough. You are competing with many messages and many appeals. Think about why your cause is personally meaningful to your audience. Here’s how to do it:
- Understand why your donors give. Invite them to tell you their stories to gain insight on what motivates people to support your programs. In-person events, thank you phone calls, and online surveys are all easy ways to collect this information.
- Segment and target appropriately. Don’t use the “spray and pray” method of marketing to win support for your cause. Segment your audience and tailor your messages to speak to each group. (Learn how you can appeal to your audience’s sense of identity.)
Donors don’t want to be on a “solicitation list.”
I’ve heard many donors of all giving levels echo this sentiment, which means we’re not doing our jobs as fundraisers and marketers. It’s our responsibility to balance our fundraising asks with updates and other messages that give back to the donor. This ultimately goes back to the first two points: by being good stewards of donors who feel a connection to your cause, you’ll be creating a community of supporters who will welcome your updates, and even your next fundraising appeal. Here’s how to do it:
- Have a solid stewardship plan that focuses on building long-term relationships with your supporters. Go beyond a standard thank you letter to keep your donors up to date on the impact of their gift and make donors feel like part of your community. Pamela Grow has some great advice on how to create “wow” experiences for your donors that will make them look forward to hearing from you.
- Set clear expectations. Let donors know what to expect once they donate. Will they hear from you monthly? Should they expect to receive a newsletter in the mail? Be upfront about your communication frequency—and then make good on your promise.
- Put the control in the hands of the donor. Obviously, no one ever wants to have a donor opt out of their communications, but you must make it easy for them to do so if they come to that decision. By highlighting the fact that they can easily control their contact preferences, you’ll actually make donors feel more at ease about giving you their contact information.
For more tips on connecting with donors this holiday season, don’t miss out on our next free webinar. I’ll be leading a session on how to create an effective appeal for the last few weeks of the year. I’ll share some great examples and take your questions. Here are the details:
Free Webinar: Create Amazing Last-Minute Fundraising Appeals
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 at 1pm EST
(Can’t attend the live session? Register anyway and we’ll send the recording of the presentation straight to your inbox!)