Is It Time For A New Website?

It's easy for nonprofits to get lost in the shuffle of acquiring new donors, engaging audiences, and planning online campaigns. This makes it easy for you to forget about your website - huge mistake! Your website is where your donors will come, where your activists and volunteers will engage, and where your campaigns will live. It's critical that you update your site, and that you revamp it when the time is right.

...But when IS the time right? And what's the right way to do it?

Idealware recently launched a workbook to walk you through the steps of preparing to build a website, the right way.

In this workbook, you'll get a walk through the whole process, including:

  • the ins and outs of choosing a team of web stakeholders;
  • how to “audit” your site, evaluating what you want out of it;
  • really identifying the needs of your constituents;
  • the best way to evaluate your graphic design and usability;

To dive a little deeper into the workbook, you'll really want to focus on tailoring this workbook toward your nonprofit. Make sure that you're answering these questions honestly, and thinking about the goals and objectives of your organization.

  • Who is going to be in charge of the website redesign? You will need a strong project manager who not understands your website, but who understand the basic prinicples of web design and web development.  
  • Who's responsible for your public image? Your branding? Who is in charge of making sure that your social media handbook is updated as new social networks emerge?
  • Is your content management system (CMS) working for you? No one CMS is right for every organizations, and you need to make sure that your CMS is meeting your needs. The workbook provides a checklist to help you figure this out.
  • What are your priorities? And what do you want your website to accomplish? How will you make sure your priorities are realistic and concrete?
  • So, you've focused on your own goals and your own priorities, but let's think about your audience. What are their goals? Why do people visit your website?
  • Is your site easily navigatable? And is it responsive (desktop, mobile, and tablet friendly)? You want to make sure that you're reaching your audience where they're at.

These questions just skim the surface of the conversations you need to be having. But they're critical questions. To dig further in, check out the full, free workbook with 10 simple worksheets. Is it time for you to get a new website?


Can You Make A Campaign Go Viral?

Let me cut to the chase: You can't make campaigns go viral. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create awesome campaigns that are compelling, sharable, and focused on building a ladder of engagement with your community and network. This is one of the key concepts that I discuss in my book Social Change Anytime Everywhere, co-written with Amy Sample Ward of NTEN.

Last week, Ann Marie van den Hurk at Kentucky.com interviewed me about the Ice Bucket Challenge. She asked if I thought other nonprofits were going to try to duplicate its success. I know  many organizations will want to attempt this, and if you are one of these organizations, you need to continue reading.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was an incredible success. The ALS Association raised over $94M in less than a month for a disease that most Americans aren’t very familiar with. 5,600 new people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS yearly. Now, many Americans understand how devastating this disease is and how finding a cure for ALS could lead to cures for Alzheimer’s and other diseases. 

However, the reality is that very few campaigns go viral. And going viral should NEVER be your goal. Why? Because the allure of going viral is a distraction to your organization and your mission

As I mentioned to Ann at Kentucky.com, to raise money and be successful in advocacy campaigns, organizations should invest their energy in creating compelling and sharable content that focuses on:

  • Fostering your community and network
  • Motivating your target audiences to take action through targeted engagement
  • Defining measurable goals connected to specific outcomes
  • Being prepared for successes and learning quickly from failures

There are no short cuts to creating social change. You need a mobilized base of supporters who believe in your mission and who are consistently engaged across multiple channels.

Jeremiah Owyang, of Crowd Companies came up with the checklist Ten Simple Steps to Replicate The Ice Bucket Challenge.” My favorite suggestion is “find a four leaf clover.” You are going to need that four leaf clover if your nonprofit expects to replicate the viral success of the Ice Bucket Challenge.  


Online Advocacy Drives List Growth

Online advocacy as a tool for list growth and new donor acquisition is hotter than ever. Actions such as petitions and pledges serve to engage cause-minded individuals and convert them into valuable supporters.

Care2.com has been at the forefront of online acquisition for over 15 years. It has an online community of over 26 million civically active members all working to make the world a better place, and they are looking to engage with your organization! This infographic tells the story of Care2’s members, their passions and their donating philanthropic behavior.

Here are some highlights:

  • 75% of our members female
  • 56% of members give to organizations they see on Care2

Check it out:

Tap into the power of Care2’s members, we would love to hear from you.







Kickstarter’s Founder Launches Nonprofit “Dollar A Day”

Kickstarter’s founder Perry Chen, who resigned from his position at the crowdfunding platform, recently launched the nonprofit Dollar A Day to raise money for charities. Chen helped spark a movement that raised over $1 billion dollars for individual projects that has led to startups, social change initiatives, etc. via Kickstarter. Can he replicate this for nonprofits?

Chen told the media that one of the inspirations behind Dollar A Day was to make it easy for people to discover nonprofits that they might not be familiar with.

Here’s How It Works.

Every member who joins Dollar A Day, commits to donating $1 each day, which goes to a different nonprofit that gets featured daily on the site. Members sign up by providing their credit card numbers and are billed $30 a month. They can cancel their donation subscription at any time.

Members receive follow up emails about featured nonprofits so that they can learn more about the organizations that their donations are supporting. To date about 800 people have signed up via the Dollar A Day website. This translates into over $800 being donated to a featured charity daily. While $800 may not be buckets of money, could this be a new venue for nonprofits to reach new audiences, especially if Chen and team use their savvy marketing skills to expand the website’s reach? Sure, but only if Chen’s new platform provides an easy way for donors to opt-in to nonprofits email list.

Unfortunately, “donations are processed anonymously by Network For Good. Your name, address, and email are NOT shared with nonprofits. [People] can always sign up for more info on any nonprofit’s website,” according to the Dollar a Day Website.

Dollar A Day says this policy protects donors privacy and prevents their members from getting bombarded by emails from several charities. However, by not empowering donors to quickly opt-in to share their information with charities they are interested in supporting, it prevents donors from building long lasting relationships with nonprofits. This is also quite problematic as donors are the lifeblood of nonprofits.

How Does A Nonprofit Get Selected For Dollar A Day?

According to the website, they select innovative and high impact nonprofits with responsible track records in six key areas: Education, Health, Economic Development, Arts and Culture, Environment, and Human Rights.

The featured nonprofits for the next 60 days can be found here.

If your nonprofit is interested in being a recipient of Dollar A Day, consider setting up a unique landing page that focuses on conversions for these particular donors who are coming to your website via Dollar A Day. Of course your homepage should be optimized for conversions and feature a story about Dollar a Day around the time they highlight your nonprofit to their members.

Chen says, Dollar A Day is “really about trying to finding a way to support and shine a light on nonprofits already doing great work and getting people to directly engage with them.”

I think the platform has potential. But will it raise a significant amount of money for nonprofits and bring in new donors? That will really depend on how the platform evolves especially after hearing feedback from the community.


Is SEO Dying, Or Do You Just Need to Revitalize Your Content?

SEO certainly has its critics. Some call it snake oil. But SEO is critical to your website, online advocacy, and online fundraising.

If your nonprofit is about to embark on a website redesign, a website audit, or even online content planning for year-end fundraising, it's important to come up with a content strategy that is tailored to your specific audiences. This also will benefit your site's SEO.

I'm going to highlight a few of the best content marketing strategies visualized in this infographic:

  • Develop a consistent tone, message, and personality for your brand. It's critical that the entirety of your online presence has consistent branding with the website. Branding social media outposts will provide a more seamless user experience as users move from the website to social media sites and back.

  • Headlines are everything. It's true, a headline can make or break whether someone will click through to read your content. One way to come up with great headlines is to brainstorm several headlines at once. I like to make a list of 10 to 15 potential headlines and circulate them among our team for feedback and suggestions. This may be time consuming, but it's worth it.

  • Don't just post...Engage! I've said it before (in Tips for Writing An Awesome Social Media & Communications Guide), social media is like a cocktail party, it's meant to be social. Don't just sit back and watch the comments roll in, engage and respond. Generate dialogues, encourage questions, and even keep notes about your audience's comments to use for future content.

  • Quality is as important as quantity. Well sort of! While quality is more important than quantity, quantity is also important. If your nonprofit has a blog or a tumblr and you don't have the staffing or resources to keep it updated (even if you've got 1-2 awesome posts), it might not be the thing for you. You don't have to be where everyone else is. You just need to be where your audience is. Your constituents will notice if you don't ever update your content. This is why it's important to create a content calendar that you use to regularly curate quality content. You can even check out these tips to rock your online presence.

What strategies resonate with you?


So you want to get into online advocacy?

It starts with the action!  An engaging action, one that is shareable and appealing to not only your audience, but also friends of your supporters, is the first step in launching your effective online advocacy strategy. 

Once you have created your action:

  • Don’t just rely on email.  Yes, send it to your email list, but also post your action on social media, use “self-serve” channels like the DailyKos, and see if bloggers will display it on their sites.
  • Segment your supporters and target your emails.  Avoid the unsubscribes and worse, the dreaded MARK AS SPAM, by sending your emails to active supporters and those who would be interested in taking your action.
  • Use paid acquisition to get your action in front of an audience.
  • Think about working with another group or organization to amplify the action.

Bottom line, just creating an awesome action is not enough.  Get the full scoop on effective online advocacy from this white paper by PowerThru Consulting and Care2.


Study: Nonprofits Score an "F" in Online Fundraising Scorecard

Dunham and Company released an Online Fundraising Scorecard that looked at 151 nonprofits online fundraising activities. The report either gave a big "F" or a mediocre rating to most of the nonprofits in the report. Out of 151 nonprofits, only 24 of them scored 76% or above. 

The study looked at the flow of donation pages on each of the nonprofits websites as well as email appeals, follow up emails, etc. Here are some of the key findings. 

  • 65% required users to go through three or more pages to actually donate. Forcing users to go through multiple steps is one of the fastest ways to lose donors. 
  • 84% of donation pages were not opimized for mobile, which made it hard for mobile users to complete a donation. 
  • 63% offered no action opportunities on their thank you page or emails.
  • 37% of organizations did not engage in any communications with new subscribers within the first 30 days. How welcoming!
  • 79% did not personalize emails with with a name like "Hi Allyson."

The report is troubling because the nonprofit community has been doing online fundraising for years and there are established best practices for optimizing conversions. Here are some tips that I'm re-sharing from another Frogloop blog post from 2010 that are still the gold standard. 

Eight Online Fundraising Strategies You Can Do Right Now

1. Create Killer Landing Pages

Tell people what you want them to do quickly. Be clear how their donation will make a difference. One tactic that has been successful for the nonprofit CARE is to provide their donors with two simple pie charts that illustrate how funds raised are allocated below the credit card donation form.

Also give people several options to contribute money – one time giving, monthly giving, etc.

2. Welcome People
Many organizations have a welcome series to introduce new donors to their email list. This is a great strategy that your organization should consider adapting. If your nonprofits, does not have time to do this right now, just be sure you send them at least one email welcoming them to your community and the different ways that they can get involved. Try to communicate with your list at the very least once a month.  

3. Cut The Wonk
You nonprofit will raise more money by telling compelling stories that resonate with real people. Donors are human beings (not ATM machines) and they need to feel connected to your organization and to your story. Save your press releases for the media, and your “talking points” for policy makers.

4. Build A Great List
You need invested people on your list to fundraise. There are two main ways nonprofits can build lists:

  • Organic Cultivation: via your own website, events, social networking sites, direct mail, etc.

  • Paid Acquisition: Online acquisition (like Care2) Google Ad Words, email appends, chaperoned emails, etc.

5. Cross Promote

The best way to reach your donors is to connect with them wherever they are – which means everywhere. Make sure you cross promote your fundraising campaigns across multiple channels such as your website, email appeals, social networks, direct mail, telemarketing, etc. Also be sure that the content is edited for each channel since each one has its own unique tone and voice.

6. Segment
As I mentioned in Five Fundraising Tips to Add to your Checklist, querying and segmenting your online membership may not be a ton of fun, but it’s vital to the success of your online fundraising program. You need this information to tailor appeals to different segments of your list. Why would you send members of your list who have never donated to your organization the same exact appeal to members who have donated $250 3x in the past 12 months? These two audiences are connected to your nonprofit very differently and therefore should receive different appeals that match their level of engagement.

7. Close The Loop
Don’t forget to thank your donors and tell them if you met your goals. This simple strategy has proven to help build better relationships with donors. Also make sure you include any compelling stories, successes, or photos so donors feel that their donation made a difference.

8. Measure The Results
There are myriad amounts of ways your nonprofit can measure the success of your online fundraising campaigns. Here are a few key ones:

  • Open Rates: What percentage of people opened up an online fundraising appeal.
  • Unique Web Visits: How many unique visits to the landing page.
  • Conversions: What percentage of people who clicked on the donate link, donated money.
  • Click-Through Rates: How many people clicked on a donation link.
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