8 Website Updates That Inspire Confidence in Your Mission

development fundraising public relations social media technology May 25, 2021
8 Website Updates That Inspire Confidence in Your Mission

Most nonprofits have very little to no budget allocated to their website because it is viewed as a luxury commodity, rather than a must-have tool in an organization’s “communications” and “fundraising” toolkits. Furthermore, as nonprofits triage their priorities, and their boards demand that their organization maintain a very low overhead, it is hard to make a case that resources should be allocated to fix what isn’t completely broken. However, as you strategize to carry out your mission in today’s highly connected and technology-focused world, you have to ask yourself three essential questions:

  • Are your donors losing confidence in your ability to follow through on your mission because of a less-than-professional online presence?
  • Could your website help increase donor retention and organize volunteers?
  • Could your website raise awareness about your work, and the needs of your constituents?
  • If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then an updated website is a “must-have” rather than a “nice-to-have”. 

An essential springboard for most communications, fundraising, and advocacy strategies is a nonprofit’s website and its social media strategy. This article will begin with some of the basics for updating your website and will be followed by an article on how to carry out a social media campaign. The logic behind this sequence is that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc., could change their business models at any time, so you should not rely on them exclusively to get your message out. Therefore, whenever possible, social media efforts should bring people back to your website to view your content and invite them to sign-up for your email list.

8 Strategies for Website Development

A nonprofit website is used for branding, fundraising, and marketing, and facilitates an organization’s social media presence. The following 8 strategies will help you develop or update your website:

1. You Should Spend Time Researching Both Your Domain Name and Your Hosting Platform

For those of you that do not have a website, you should begin by conducting extensive research, which should be driven by the goals you have set forth for your website. Otherwise, it is easy to get distracted by all of the bells and whistles that exist out there. Different platforms have varying price points and features for customization. Some hosting platforms include videos, notifications, newsletters, course hosting, check-outs for payments, etc. You should also consider whether the platform allows for SEO integration, whether it is within your price point, and how links to third-party websites are managed. The website design should be able to adapt to tablets, iPads, and cell phones.

2. You Should Have a Strategy in Place for SEO Management

Ideally, your web pages should optimize and use SEO-friendly code. This makes it easier for search engines to identify relevant content on your website. WordPress, for example, has plug-ins available to help you increase your rankings in different search engines. This does not require significant knowledge of coding.

3. You Should Determine If You Are Going to Offer a Bilingual Site

If your organization is providing services to constituents that primarily speak another language, you should explore whether you will provide a bilingual website. You should first determine if you will integrate two separate websites or will the persons using your website have to select which language they prefer and the content will then be automatically translated.

It is critical for you to hire a native bilingual copywriter for new content and/ or a professional translator for existing copy. Google Translate does not understand context so do not use it as your primary translator. You need a professional translator or a native speaker with a strong background in copy. Relying on well-meaning volunteers without proven fluency often produces copy that is difficult to understand because the translator/ author does not have sufficient language proficiency to write professional copy that conveys your message in a culturally appropriate and legible manner.

4. Your Website “Look” and Images Should be Cohesive and Only Used With Consent: 

You should select the colors and type of font that you want to utilize. Their utilization should then be consistent across all pages. You also have to make a determination as to whether you’re going to utilize real-life pictures of your clients or whether that would constitute an infringement of privacy or a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Protection Act (HIPPA). For example, serious consideration should be given to using photos in programs that serve vulnerable or under-age populations. If it is legal and ethical to include client pictures, then you must get permission from them beforehand or from the legal guardians of minors. Otherwise, it would help if you used stock pictures. If you are using pictures of clients without written consent, they should only be from the back or you must blur the faces out as well as anything that could reveal their identity (e.g., tattoos, jewelry, etc.). This is particularly important when there is a safety issue, as is the case with trafficking and domestic violence victims.

5. The Organization of the Site Should Be Clear, Intuitive, and Easy-To-Use: 

Your website should be intuitive and easy to follow. In addition, if you want your visitors to take a particular action, it should be clear and specific from the very beginning. For example, if you want them to volunteer for a specific activity, the process and requirements for doing so should be clearly spelled out. If you want your visitors to donate money, you should detail how to do so and where donors should go in order to make a contribution. At the end of the day, your website should be easy to navigate and provide valuable information to visitors. 

6. Focus on Developing a Convincing and Easy To Use Online Donation Page: 

Your donation page should have three objectives in mind: 

1. To be user-friendly. Potential donors must be able to fill out “easy-to-use”, quick, and self-explanatory donation forms on your website. Your donors shouldn’t be going back and forth on your website trying to figure out how to make a payment, or if their payment is complete. The language that is used in the copy should also be simple and easy to understand.

Additionally, it is highly recommended that you provide a combination of preset donation buttons with suggested contribution amounts as well as open-ended options. This will allow your potential donor to contribute more or less than what you had estimated. A recurring gift button option should also be available in order to minimize the complexity of the transaction for the donor through automation. Lastly, donors should also receive an automatic thank you and an automated receipt that they can also download for their own records.

2. To facilitate access through different devices and platforms. The software you select should create a seamless integration across devices and platforms. Whenever possible, you should update your website to reflect any social media or fundraising campaigns you may be running at the moment. 

3. To create a relationship between the donor and the organization that is customized.  The software you use for the information page should allow you to customize information for your donors. Again, simplicity is key, but you also want to discover what has moved your donors to give. You may want to ask a question or two that allows your donors to either share something about themselves or specifically describe why it is that they donated. Collecting information about what appeals to donors will make putting together both your newsletter and blog copy much easier because you will know what about your work you should be emphasizing that your donors are interested in hearing about.

You should also offer an easy opt-in option to the organization’s newsletter. This will allow you to continue to update your donors on the good work of your organization as well as the needs of the client you are providing services.

7. Develop a Plan for Technical Support: 

You must assess whether you have the in-house ability to conduct the technical maintenance on your website, or if this is a service that you want to pay for from your hosting provider. Your technology infrastructure plan should also include how you will manage the backup of your content and security.

8. The Website Should Be Able to Integrate With Social Media: 

Most website providers include integration features with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. This can then serve as an additional tool not only in promoting your nonprofit organizational brand but also in advancing any advocacy or fundraising campaign that you want to undertake. In our next edition, we will focus on nonprofit social media advocacy and considerations.

Share Your Website Solutions with Other Advocates

If you have any strategies that you have used to update your website, please share them below, so that others can learn from your experiences. Next time, we will discuss how to use social media to engage in nonprofit advocacy and development.

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If you are ready to feel empowered to make your vision of a better world come true,  schedule a brief free consultation to see how we can be helpful. Send me an email, and I will be happy to help. 

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