Is your non-profit’s website changing with the times?

Using best practices to improve your agency’s website

By Rose Reinert
Guest blogger

rose1It has almost been a year since I took on my new role as Marketing & Outreach Coordinator for a local federally qualified health center. One of the first things I set my sights on changing was our agency’s website.

Our website was made with love by my President/CEO . . . with lots of love . . . but . . . umm . . . lots of words.

You can imagine this was a very delicate project to propose, but I was determined. I am proud to say that nine months after starting, we launched the new website, and it has been our pride and joy ever since. I will insert a shameless plug for you to check out our new website and see what you think!

In chapter four of “The Social Media Bible,” Lon Safkow presents the subject of “The World of Web Pages.” I loved this chapter! I was intrigued by the history of websites. I also loved reading about the “Eye Tracking Study” that discussed people’s reading patterns and confirmed that we look first, and refer back to the upper left corner the most often.

With all of what Safkow talks about in this chapter, I hit the web and learned more about the role that Web Pages play in philanthropy, engagement and donor relations.

Of course, by now, we know that a website can do wonders for:

  • engaging people
  • sharing your story
  • providing a platform for donations

However, we need to ask: “Is simply ensuring your non-profit has a web site enough?

We learned in last week’s blog that when sending an e-mail or e-blast to an audience, we only have their attention for a few seconds. A website is much the same.

website2Once someone plops on your home page what do they see? Is it mobile friendly? Can they easily navigate it?

Each click and movement to another page is another transaction with our audience. It is also another commitment on their part to give time to learn more. If they grow frustrated, confused or turned off, they can quickly disengage.

In marketing, I often look to those on the cutting edge of technology for trends (in other words . . . those younger than me of course! LOL). There is no doubt that non-profits must figure out how to engage the younger generations to ensure that philanthropy and engagement continued.

So, when we take a look at websites, what do we see and what do our donors want to see?

The Millennial Project is an initiative that assists companies and organizations in learning about and engaging the Millennial generation. (Note: The Millennial generation is made up of those sometimes referred to as Generation Y, with birth years from the early 1980’s to the early 2000’s.)

The 2013 Millennial Impact Report was completed by Achieve which is an agency working with causes to provide research, awareness and support campaigns. This report provides research on what interests this generation, including how to capture their support via your website, social media and other factors. I highly recommend you take a look as it provides insight on so many different topics.

The report highlights the importance of ensuring your website is mobile friendly. (Note: ‘mobile friendly’ does not just mean your site can be pulled up on your phone) If you are pulling up a site and have to zoom in and out in order to see the site, it is more than likely not categorized as “mobile friendly”.

mobileDoes mobile friendly really matter?

According to a recent article, “What Users Want Most from Mobile Sites Today,” on Google’s Think Insights, it is clear being mobile friendly indeed does matter:

  • When they visited a mobile-friendly site, 74% of people say they’re more likely to return to that site in the future
  • 48% of users say they feel frustrated and annoyed when they get to a site that’s not mobile-friendly
  • 36% said they felt like they’ve wasted their time by visiting those sites

Not only is accessibility important, but obviously content is just as critical. Here is more great info from the Achieve research:

  • 75% of young donors are turned off by out-to-date web sites.
  • Six in 10 said they wanted non-profits to share stories about successful projects and programs and appreciated information about an organization’s cause and the people it serves.
  • The donors also prefer to give online, with 84 percent saying they want to give through a Web site.

As we look at continuing to engage the current and next generations through our website, taking a fresh look can be helpful.

There are some easy ways to get outside input on how your website can be improved including:

  • Work with an area college to set up focus groups
  • use on-line surveys
  • gather feedback during donor visits

Take a look at your web site. What do you see? What are some ways you could offer a fresh look? Do you have the infrastructure to support updates to you your site? Share some of your experiences from your favorite websites in the comment box below.
rose draft sig

About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on December 16, 2013, in Fundraising, nonprofit, resource development, technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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