Gear Up for Year End Giving: Clean up Your Nonprofit Website ’til it Squeaks!
Have you taken a really good look at your nonprofit website lately? Was it set up years ago and then allowed to get all rusty and stale? It’s time to clean it up! An outdated, unmaintained website is a red flag to visitors and search engines alike and this great asset can become an enormous detriment.
If your site isn’t up to date, it won’t be generating any excitement and you’ll be chasing away the very people you’re trying to attract. Online giving continues to surge in popularity as donors discover the ease of the whole process. But is your nonprofit website easy to use? Does it invite donations? Does it inspire new visitors and make an emotional connection to the donation experience?
One analysis found that online giving was up 8% for the first half of 2014 (compared to 2013) and continually growing, so focus your nonprofit website to attract those year-end donations.
Don’t let them get away
With major donating getting done on the internet at the end of the year, a nonprofit website must first attract visitors and then get them involved. Having brought the people to your site, don’t let them get away – grab their attention! A well optimized website is your nonprofits’ full time, always-open-for-business platform reaching a vast audience, growing on a daily basis.
Because your nonprofit website gives constant access to the vivid, multifaceted story of your charity, use the power of storytelling. The epic tale of your organizations’ story that starts on your landing page should get viewers involved and absorbed in the nonprofits’ mission.
Brief tales of the latest successes are also illustrative of the good work being done. Use your stories to create the desire to help the cause either through donations and/or volunteering, especially important at peak times such as end-of-year.
This level of engagement highlights your nonprofit websites’ effectiveness, not just during busy times but at any time of the year. There will always be visitors who’ll want to ask questions or simply deal with real people. For this reason, your contact information should be clearly accessible with a physical address, phone number and email address.
Housekeeping for the Holidays
With major donations usually expected at the end of the year, get your website ready to perform: Does your site announce a “coming event” that was over months ago, or have a blog that hasn’t been updated in two years? Is your site tired looking and cluttered with out-dated design features, donation buttons that are hard to find? Then it’s time to prepare for all the generous, altruistic visitors who will come streaming in over the holidays.
Fix any broken links, they’re bad news with visitors and search engines alike. Imagine if your “Donate here” button returns a 404 error (page not found)! Check all the internal links on your website to be sure they are going where they should.
Is your website quick to open? Three to four seconds is the maximum time it should take for the landing page to finish loading. If your website’s slow to load visitors will leave simply click away. Remove any superfluous elements – files, code, and unnecessary graphics – clearing the clutter gives a more modern, streamlined site.
Make it easy to give
The busiest time of year for giving, is almost here and increasingly, donors of all ages are turning to the internet to make their gifts, preferring to donate through online channels. Sometimes these online gifts are stimulated by offline influences.
Donations through a nonprofit’s website can be driven through direct mail appeals, an in-person ask, newsletters or other means. This is why it’s so important for your nonprofit website and the online donation route to be easy; to use, to find and to get around.
A nonprofit website should always be simple to navigate with links to information about donating or otherwise getting involved prominently displayed. The donation process should be highly visible and as simple and pleasurable as possible. Use an intuitive layout to lead the donor through each stage; don’t make them search for the next step. Giving shouldn’t be a treasure hunt, if the process is too obscure, people will click away out of frustration.
Put a “donate now” button on every page and be sure it’s positioned above the fold (upper part of the page that’s visible when you first get to it) on the website. Use clearly defined instructions – “Give,” “Support Us,” “Get Involved,” “How You Can Help,” and “Donate here” are all good. Experiment with different colors for the donate button.
Are you mobile?
More and more, your emails and social media communications are being read on a mobile device. If your website isn’t optimized for smartphone users, your organization will lose out.
Social media, emails and mobile activity are all intended to drive people to your site, ready to take action. If your website has slipped off the radar for mobile devices, try tweaking the important pages first – those key pages your emails and social media link to, like the landing page, donation page and so on.
Testing, testing 1… 2… 3…
After your website is spiff and polished, put yourself in the donors’ place and go through the whole site starting with “Contact Us” and ending with the donation process. The importance of a smooth functioning website can’t be over-emphasized. If potential supporters can’t reach a real person or are thwarted when they attempt to give, the outcome is lost donations, a no-win situation for all.
Is your organizations’ website ready for action? Or is it time for some up-dating? Did we miss any important factors here?
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