2 Key Things Every Nonprofit Needs, To Succeed

By: Ian Bond - Mar  2017

We all want our business to succeed. We will expend a tremendous amount of effort trying to figure out what is working, and what isn’t. Are marketing dollars being used in a way that makes sense, or are the wheels just spinning leaving ROI flat? And for many of us, very near the top of this list needs to be: is the website performing?

Website performance needs to be a priority for any organization that is genuinely interested in generating even a small amount of received charitable giving through online sources.

And here’s why:

According to their analysis of 6,845 nonprofit organizations, the Blackbaud Institute published a report stating that overall charitable giving trends increased during 2016. For small organizations, Blackbaud reported a flat year. Medium and large organizations, on the other hand, are said to have enjoyed 1.7% and 1.0% growth respectively.

This is a good thing.

What I see as a great thing, however, are the numbers Blackbaud reported after analyzing 5,210 nonprofits and their received online contributions. Online giving increased a whopping 7.9% in 2016. Medium sized organizations boasted the largest increase with 11.4%, while small and large organizations reported 8.1% and 6.3% respectively.

Among the top ten sectors of growth in Blackbaud’s analysis, the online charitable donations to Human Services grew by 11.1% — Faith-Based organizations, 8.8%. Very encouraging. This means that people still love to give.

Admittedly, looking at even a couple of short paragraphs full of statistics can come across pretty dry. Let me help deglaze those eyeballs and bring the focus back to where it needs to be: your organization’s online presence.

How did your organization do in 2016, is there room for improvement? I’m betting there may be.

Let’s take a high-level look at two key factors that can be improved to help a website's performance.

NUMBER ONE:
Is your website as effective as it can be at attracting the people willing to give to your cause?

It’s a gross understatement to say that there are many factors that go into where a website shows up on a search engine result page (SERP). Factors, that if considered correctly, can have a positive impact, but if done wrong can have a negative affect. Site content optimization is one such factor.

Contrary to the common practice of many developers, the tactic here should never be to throw a bunch of bloated, “keyword” saturated content onto your site. If your business is dog grooming, for instance, and every other set of words on your site is dog grooming...well I think you get the point. Google is smarter than that and penalizes these types of black hat practices. It also makes for a clumsy UX.

It is important that the backend of a site is maintained just as responsibly as the forward-facing pieces. It would be a shame to have everything in order on the frontend, only to have it be undone by sloppy backend work. Sadly, it happens.

The goal should be sustainable, long-term credibility. Something that can only be created by bringing your audience well organized, accurate, and relevant information. Relying on these white hat practices will organically build longevity for your site. And the fact that these prefered tactics don’t violate their Terms of Service, Google stays happy. An added benefit is that it also presents a much better UX.

Social media is everywhere (another understatement). It is much more than just a nifty way to stay in touch with friends and family. Social media can be one of the most effective ways to get your company’s message out to your audience.

But like everything else worth using, social media needs to be managed. Finding a tool (Hootsuite is one, but there are others) that can coordinated social media posts to your favorite platforms can often help ease the strain of this undertaking.

NUMBER TWO:
Does your website engage visitors in a compelling manner (UX)?

Once a visitor has entered your site, what is their experience? Are they finding the information they need to make them stay? Customer journey mapping (CJM) is a particularly helpful tool when trying to find these answers.

Don’t leave it up to your visitors to guess at what it is your organization does. You’ve got a 10-15 second window in which your visitor is going to make the decision to either leave, or stick around.

Tell them who you are and what you do.

Clearly define what it is you want a visitor to do on your site (call to action, CTA). This part can get messy — literally — so be careful. CTAs need to be clear, concise, and valuable to the visitor.

By using the right tools (such as a good CJM) it can be determined which design elements are the most attractive to a visitor, resulting in a positive action, and which ones are falling short.

It’s not unheard of for companies to spend millions of dollars per year researching (and agonizing over) the finer points of the UX their website offers. Style, colors, imagery, shapes, font, video, no video — the list can get quite large. But with only 10 to 15 seconds to engage a visitor with a high-impact first impression, every element is vital.

You don’t have to spend millions, but you do have to spend something. And sometimes to ensure maximum ROI, getting help is the right move.

Remember, Blackbaud’s stats show us that people still love to give. Don’t get in their way!

As awesome as it is to organize a group of volunteers to wash cars on a Saturday, or host a community 5K, it is important that you don’t neglect the very thing that is often the first glimpse the general public might get of your organization — your dot org.

ATTRACT + ENGAGE + CONVERT


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