Is Your Website an Asset or a Liability?
Over the next few weeks, we are going to be discussing the use of technology in fundraising efforts. Clearly, in today’s technologically advanced world, nonprofits and ministries must recognize that technology will play a crucial role in fundraising efforts. However, many organizations struggle to use technology “correctly.” As a result, they give their intended audience a negative impression which is often difficult, if not impossible to overcome.
One of the first ways people look to see if the organization is legitimate is by going to the organization’s website. In this day, a website is not an option…it is a requirement. Since many donors and volunteers will review the website before getting involved with the organization, it is essential that the website be professional and up to date. Even those who don’t make a donation or get involved will often look at the website out of curiosity.
Your website is your organization’s real-estate and just like physical real estate, it is valuable. Of course, social media is great, but you do not own social media real estate. The platform could change its rules at any moment and your information could go away. For this reason, all other technological resources should point to your website.
Some basic information that must be on your website includes:
- Contact information (phone, address, email address). Make this information easy to find.
- Mission statement – let website visitors know why you exist. What is your purpose?
- Programs and services – provide an overview of your programs and services. This information helps visitors to understand how your organization is working to meet its stated mission.
- Photos and videos that tell the story of your work. Be sure if you are using photos of clients that you have obtained photo releases that allow you to use the photos. If you are using stock photos, be certain they are royalty free or you have purchased them.
- A donate button should exist on each page of the site. Make it easy for the visitor to find.
- Current calendar – current is the key word. Visitors to your site do not want to see events and activities that happened two years ago; they want to know what you are doing NOW.
- Opportunities – if there are volunteer or career opportunities, include that information.
- Testimonials or quotes from those you have served – share the successes your organization has had.
Each of us has had the experience of going to a website that is difficult to navigate and unappealing. Websites must be visually appealing; key to creating a visually appealing site is having an uncluttered site that includes lots of open space. Websites do not have to include every piece of information about the organization or detail every activity the organization has ever done.
Keep the site easy to read. There is no need to use large words or big paragraphs. Instead, break paragraphs into smaller ones that contain short sentences. Use bullet points when possible. Use headings to draw attention to key areas on the site. Make information easy to find.
Remember to test your site. A beautiful appealing site will not help your organization if links do not work. Click through any “clickable” buttons to make sure they go where you want them to go.
To keep visitors coming back to your website on a regular basis, it needs to be updated regularly. Otherwise, it turns into an electronic brochure and once it has been read, there is no need to look at it again.
Along with your website, professionalize your email address. Avoid using gmail or outlook emails. Google provides nonprofits free email accounts so your organization can have its own email addresses. Then, provide each staff member with an organizational email address.
Take the time to develop a professional website that helps to convey a positive image of the organization. This will require regular updates and edits, but these need not be expensive.
Could your organization benefit from a website make-over? Let’s talk.