Following some workshops I ran in Tasmania last year, I was asked to write an article for a community newspaper in northern Tasmania called the Meander Valley Gazette. They wanted me to discuss the ‘charities and overheads’ topic that all-too-often rears its ugly head and help their community understand more about it. I thought I’d share the article in today’s blog post and hopefully we can spread it far and wide in our non-profit networks and get more people talking positively about charities and their expenditure.
Category Archives: Fundraising
Last month, you may remember we did a post with some tips about how to optimise your charity website so you have the best chance of attracting new donors and generating maximum revenue through this method. Just to recap on the first five tips: Easy to donate; Mission front and centre; Beneficiaries are your hero; Use pictures, not words; and, Designed for your visitors. You can read the blog post in full here.
In today’s post, we will be looking at another four tips to help achieve great website success.
To ensure supporters are encouraged back to your website again and again, it’s important to have updated content. You can do this easily through a news section on your site and posting an article at least once a fortnight. You can also regularly update an events section. The more updated your content is, the higher your ranking in search engines, also.
Blogs are another great way to have fresh content on your website. Having a blog written by your CEO, Chair or Program workers, or even a combination of this, allows your supporters to gain insights about your organisation from varied sources. The best things about blogs are that they can have an authenticity that your more-formal communications cannot always have. One Girl’s blog is one of the best examples of this – so raw and open – it really draws its readers in and makes them feel closer to the organisation.
Studies suggest that about half of all visits to charity websites (and I’d assume websites in general) are via a mobile device so making your site mobile-enabled is a must. A lot of charities do this now, and if you’re site is on a platform like WordPress, it has probably happened automatically.
Make sure, however, that one the home page and donate page of your mobile version site the main messages and functionality is there. Charity: Water is one organisation that does this brilliantly. On their home page they get straight into making a donation and if you swipe down a little you get to the heart of what they do; their mission.
Make sure it can be found
SEO is a very important acronym in the world wide web and if you don’t know what it is or what it means, chances are your website will not be easily found on your site. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and it’s all about helping your website rank higher in an online search. The higher your ranking, the easier it is for prospective supporters to find your charity. While historically key words were important, nowadays it’s more about having longer, more updated content and being mobile-enabled (two points we just covered above). If you’re not too sure about SEO, it’s definitely worth investing in an external provider to make sure your organisation’s site is being found.
Google, one of the world’s biggest internet search engines, offers a service called Google AdWords which is basically an online advertising service. Google, being the socially-conscious and ethically-minded business that it is, has an arm that helps charities get the best results online. Google for Non-Profits provides eligible charities with up to $10,000 of free Google AdWords each month. This article on ProBono’s website shares some great info about how to do that.
We can’t really talk about websites and not mention social media. Most people will tell you that one of the main objectives of your social media platforms is to send traffic to your website, so I think it’s important to be aware of this while creating your site. Each time you update content on your site (which as per the tip above, this should be quite often) you can share this new content on your social media accounts. Don’t be afraid to re-share content as well, especially if there is some new point of relevance you can draw from it. Remember, you will probably get sick of your content long before your supporters day as they are not as close to it as you are!
As Jeff Stanger says in Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, “the secret to being successful online is to master the tried and true principles of fundraising and then apply them to the online environment.” I would certainly agree with this and think it’s important that charities do not to forget this. Hopefully some of the tips in this two-part blog post will help.
If you have any other vital tips for others please feel free to share in the comments below. Otherwise, all the best with your making your website more wonderful and attracting new donors.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.
While a charity’s website may not necessarily make them big bucks, not having an appealing and user-friendly site can inhibit the dollars you do attract. Nowadays, a website is like a window to your charity’s soul; so you really need to be mindful of how you’re presenting yourself, your beneficiaries and the work that you do. While I don’t profess to be a website guru, I’ve spent some time over the past decade working with various sized charities on updating, designing and redeveloping their websites, and I usually find that some basic tips are always appreciated.
According to Blackbaud research, while online donations only account for about 7% of ALL charity income, in recent years this type of giving has been growing steadily, with an increase of 8.9% from 2013 to 2014. And not only is more money coming in, but more people are donating. Furthermore, what is most exciting is this same research also suggests small organisations are seeing the biggest growth in online giving. It’s definitely a space we should all want to be in.
Nevertheless, redesigning websites can often be an expensive exercise, and something that may not be high on your charity’s priority list – especially if you are a small organisation with a very limited expenditure budget. The functionality and technology of a site is important, but, to be honest, fancy doesn’t necessarily equal successful. Often it is the content, the way it is presented and the story you tell that can make your site a winner. So, across two Fishy blogs (there was just too much information to fit into one post!) we share with you some of the key tips for making your site most successful and some web design best practices that will help you achieve your online communication and fundraising goals.
Easy to donate
A study by the Nielsen Norman Group a few years back indicated that 17% of charity website visitors couldn’t find the donate button! That’s almost one in five! Really?!? What. Is. Going. On? Surely this should be our number one priority on charity websites?
No matter what mechanism you have in place to take donations online, your home page – or better yet, your website’s header which will appear on every page – should have a very clear donate button. By clicking on that, your supporters should be taken via the most direct route to make a donation.
Queensland’s rescue helicopter service, CareFlight, has been a site I have long admired, and I thought I was a bit biased (as I used to work there many moons ago) until I saw it listed on a 100 great websites site. CareFlight’s home page makes the option of donating very easy. It actually appears twice; once along the banner at the top and as a feature underneath the main image/video, as you can see in the screen shot below.
Mission front and centre
Make sure visitors to your site know within their first 30 seconds of landing on your home page know what your mission is – or in effect – what you do. Don’t be too ambiguous or clever about this. Be proud and loud about stating with intention what difference you are making in the world. You should try to do this with a combination of words and imagery.
The two most important pieces of information that potential supporters look for when visiting your site are what you do and how you use donations. So be sure to tell them this early on.
Beneficiaries are your hero
Your supporters invest in your organisation for one reason only. And that reason has really nothing to do with you. They invest to create a better life for your beneficiaries. Or protect the habitat of a certain animal. Or to change the world for a better future. Whatever that is you need to feature that on your website (and in all your communications really).
You need to make the beneficiaries of your cause, those that will benefit most, whether they are people, animals or forests, the hero of your website. The WWF do this really well. Sure they have some of the most incredibly emotive images to help promote their cause, but the WWF website has featured in various ‘best website’ articles over the past few years. The WWF UK home page has a fabulous ‘Species we’re protecting’ section which really makes the endangered species the heroes. That’s pretty powerful stuff.
Use pictures, not words
As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, and this is as important on your website as any other place. While you will certainly still need words to get your messages across, it’s important to ensure your site doesn’t become too text heavy.
The images you choose can have a great impact on the emotional appeal they create. When using images of people, try to have them looking directly at the camera, where possible and smiling. A happy face suggests your organisation is having an impact and making people happy. Your images don’t have to be at professional photography level, but make sure their main features are showcased well. Sometimes a little bit of cropping of an image doesn’t go astray.
Designed for your visitors
There are many elements of a website that are important and often it is the successful combination of these elements that make it easier for the visitors to your site. One of the biggest elements is the design; and an important design feature is to have a clean layout with, if possible, plenty of white space.
Be mindful of who will be visiting your site; for some organisations this is a combination of supporters and users of your service. UK based cancer charity, Macmillan, does this very well. As you can see in the screenshot below, their home pages has options for all their types of visitors and even a ‘How can we help you today?’ section that when clicked upon, it opens a list for different types of visitors from newly diagnosed cancer patients to health professionals.
So, there you have it. Five of the top tips for making your charity’s website wonderful. We’ll be back next month with another few tips to add to this too. If you aren’t already subscribed to the Fish blogs, you can do so by completing your name and email in the box to the right of this post.
See you in the pond,
The Fish Chick.
It’s no secret that here at Fish Community Solutions we think education is important. It is one of the keystones in which our business was built, we have a scholarship program to ensure education opportunities take place, and, we’ve written in this blog before about the importance of professional development.
It is important that as fundraisers and people working in the charity sector, we should want to keep ourselves relevant to the work we do. One economical way to do this is to read books. Just over three years ago we also did a post about a few great books to read in the fundraising sector, but today, we’d like to take a new perspective on this topic. We’ve got five must-read book recommendations from five people with great experience in the charity sector (well four people, and me, haha). Take a look…
I first heard about giving circles a few years ago when I attended a presentation by James Boyd at a fundraising conference. He spoke about how, through being the recipient of the FIA Perpetual Scholarship, he had visited a number of organisations in the USA and learnt about a model of giving that was yet to be realised this side of the Pacific.
A giving circle is a group of individuals that pool their donations and collectively decide which charity or local community group to give it away to. Often the donations are set at a certain amount and the group is quite active in their philanthropy, with members often seeking to increase their understanding of the social impact their donation will help achieve.
Conferences and professional development opportunities are not only great because they provide us with a chance to learn more about best practice techniques or new trends in fundraising, but they often remind us of vital aspects of what we should be doing and inspire us to get back on track a little.
Earlier this year I was at the FIA Conference and internationally renowned fundraiser and author, Simone Joyaux, was one of the key speakers. She, among others, really reminded me of one key activity we should be doing as much as possible as fundraisers… talking to our donors! Read the rest of this entry
Last month in our blog post we gave you lots of crowd funding hints and tips from Kyle Behrend at Edgar’s Mission following their VERY successful Raising the Roof campaign last year. Do you need a big team of fundraisers to be successful? For a fundraising campaign to have raised as much money as Edgar’s Mission (over $160,000 in case you can’t remember!) did with Raising the Roof, most people would think it took a big team and a lot of people, right? Not in this case according to Kyle. The team at Edgar’s Mission consists of eight people, most of whom are actually out working on the farm and with the animals, so it certainly isn’t a big team. There are more animals at Edgar’s staff! Read the rest of this entry