Download this version as a PDF with my notes from the August 2013 ESCHouston Seminar where I talked about how to get started with the technology foundations for a successful nonprofit fundraising website.
Notes Version - NonProfit Website Fundraising Foundations - ESCHouston 2013 August Seminar
Evaluate and Update Your Website to Increase Online Donations Today!
Turn Your NonProﬁt Website
into a Fundraising Machine!
This presentation has been prepared for the ESCHouston.org 2013 Workshop Series. Find additional nonprofit training classes as well as mentors, resources, and other support for new and
growing nonprofit organizations on ESCHouston’s website: http://eschouston.org.
Title: What Every Nonprofit Website needs for effective online fundraising | Factors every nonprofit website needs
Description: This seminar will explain the key elements that nonprofit and association websites should include to attract new donors and increase online fundraising efforts.
Copyright 2013 Sarah M Worthy, please include a credit to the author (Sarah M Worthy) with a link to http://sarahmworthy.com in any distributions (whole or part) and please do Share this if
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"For me, it's not the technology, it's
the people and their behaviour.
Technology is not necessarily going
to help to fundraise. It's going to
remove the barriers
~ Laila Takeh, head of digital engagement at Unicef
I want to really focus on the helping you each identify the purpose of your website, and show you how to think about designing a website
with your donors’ in mind rather than getting muddled by the “high-tech” jargon.
Your website removes the barriers to giving by:
*communicating to visitors what to do, why to do it and how to do it
*providing the tools (online payments, donation forms, social integration) for donors to donate online
Chief Experience Ofﬁcer &
Director of Product
about me: I like to say I “work and play on the web” and I’ve been living online since before most people were aware there was an Internet.
I have worked with numerous nonprofits and small businesses to help them identify technology gaps in their organizations and provide strategic guidance to help with implementations,
upgrades, and training.
Currently I’m working on a Houston Healthcare IT startup to help them develop their prototype and a strategy for engaging healthcare professionals to promote user adoption to their app.
What’s the deal with Experience officer? Well, at my core, I’m a technology integrator with a lot of experience in marketing. I’m passionate about creating experiences for my clients and
community members - both online and offline, and while there’s no such thing, in my humble opinion, as “seamless” integration, there’s certainly some great strategies for getting close.
I like to delight and surprise people when they interact with one of the Brands I’m supporting and I know how to do that with the latest technologies.
Stay focused on your Goals
How’s Your Current Website?
Getting Higher-Tech Help
who here has a website?
who is here because you’re preparing to setup your ﬁrst NPO website?
Most nonproﬁts have the same concerns and challenges with their websites - this seminar aims to teach you how to look at your website from a new perspective to help you increase your
online fundraising. No programming or high-tech skills are required to implement my recommendations. All you need is passion and a desire to learn and share!
3 Questions - 7 Seconds
What can I do here?
Why should I do it?
How do I get started?
Try and imagine yourself being in your potential donors’ “shoes” and take a look at your website - if visitors can’t answer these 3 questions within about 7 seconds
of arriving at your website, they’ll quickly leave and continue to explore the internet.
We’re going to do a little example - I’m going to show you a website homepage from
ESCHouston, and I’m going to count to 7 then we’ll see if you all could answer these
What can you do? | Why should you do it? | How do you get started?
ESCHouston’s website does a great job - They have testimonials with people’s photos to share who’s involved - this adds credibility and communicates “Why” to
They have the title list above the fold that shows they have consulting services, how to start a nonprofit (get started hint hint!) and current events (what can you do)
- this is a great example of how important clear and straightforward Headers and Calls to Action are, because even though most of the descriptions for these 3
items are below the fold, the Headers in blue are easy to understand.
Another “Why” is their headline - and a great headline is going to speak to the “Why” of your visitors - in this case ESCHouston wants nonprofits and those who
support nonprofits to join ESCHouston in helping nonprofits accomplish their missions.
DIY Quick Website Fixes
Craft Stories that Build Credibility
Match Your Website to Your Brand
Guide Your Visitors Online
Freshen Up Donations
Share Things that Matter
Reference checklist in their handout package with tips to evaluate their own website, if anyone wants to volunteer their site for evaluation - we can do that at the end
"The most important thing you can do to improve your web site is eliminate unnecessary design items."
~ I can’t recall where I saw that quote and I apologize for not crediting that person here - it’s a great quote though when you are beginning a website project,
whether it’s a redesign or a brand new site - eliminate things more than add things for greater success!
I’m going to share some quick tips and explain why these 5 factors matter most for your website’s fundraising capabilities
* Brand design “look and feel”
* navigation and calls to action
* donation forms
* make your website more share-able
Focus on Your Stories...
Free Report from http://credibility.stanford.edu/
This study basically demonstrates that a nonproﬁt’s website needs to look about as good as
Credibility is your biggest challenge as a NonProﬁt Organization - so when I talk about Branding and professional look/design - I want you to know that you don’t need to spend thousands of
dollars on a custom website design. You need to focus on your messaging, your testimonials and case studies and have real photos (not stock photos of real people) and videos that show
your staff, volunteers, and the people who you’ve helped thanks to the donations you receive.
From a Stanford University Study:
the level of suspicion for nonproﬁt websites is far above that of any other type - 22.6% for NPO’s vs 9.4% overall
Things that build credibility:
* afﬁliations with recognizable organizations and corporations (partner with larger/more recognizable Brands to help boost yours)
* who’s behind the site? Staff, Board Members, and the People who are involved with your organization should be prominently displayed
Who Beneﬁts from
Content that Builds Credibility
How You’ll Use
Answer these three questions for visitors first to build credibility - think about when you’ve donated in the past... you probably wanted to believe your money was
going to be used the way you intended. Show them before they have to ask where their donations are going.
* Staff and Board members bios - remember to include current photos! (http://upglobal.co)
* How does your nonprofit spend donation contributions? Showing potential donors where their money will be spent builds trust. (http://www.komen-houston.org/
* Who benefits from your organization’s work? Show the people you help and the Good you do. (http://campforall.org)
Content that’s Visual
Tips for sharing visual content:
1) Share videos on Pinterest
2) Feature your clients, members, and partners/sponsors
3) Share your favorite resource (training videos from YouTube, favorite books)
4) Share upcoming events and photos from past events
5) Infographics related to your industry, or make your own
Keep Your Design Consistent
A donor clicks
to give here
And ends up
Another important factor that builds credibility and much more is the design of your website. It should be professional looking and match your Brand. You also
want your internal pages to match your home page
Don’t confuse first time visitors - unify your online brand across all of your website pages and social media profiles
This is an example of what not do (sorry kinfolk - I’m sure you’re a great organization!) When I started, I was on the kinfolk’s brown/beige website with a cute
foodie theme. I click to donate on the “Melbourne” link and end up on a completely different looking site. There’s no mention of Kinfolk, and remember that
7second rule? Once you’ve changed the design, you start all over having to answer 3 questions in 7 seconds or you’ll lose that potential donor.
Design Your Social Brand, Too!
Here’s a great example where the nonprofit org, Mission Australia, has a unified Brand across their website and across their social networks.
Notice the similar color schemes, the logo matches all of the platforms, and their donation form page maintains the same look and feel too. People like familiarity
and they TRUST it.
This is especially important for attracting the Gen Y/Millenials. They may find you via search or via social to find your website - and typically the younger
generation will look at your social media profiles and if your Social Media channels don’t fit with what the visitor was expecting, they’ll click away and not return to
Make Time for Daily SEO...
More than 70% of this NonProﬁt’s
website trafﬁc came from people
Searching Online for something to do
Use your site’s analytics
to identify the content
that’s drawing new
visitors in best!
I want to really stress that new nonprofits and organizations shouldn’t be putting all their time and energy into SEO. Develop content that’s
relevant and interesting to your audience, consistently. Keep your homepage up-to-date.
That being said - it is important, and Google Analytics, in particularly, are vital to a successful long term digital marketing program.
Tip: Take 5 minutes every day to watch a tutorial or explore your own site’s Google Analytics’ dashboard to become familiar with the tools and
the different ways you can measure your organization’s success and mistakes as you go.
Definitely set-up Google Analytics with your website and use it to monitor engagement, and make tweaks along the way. SEO takes a LONG
time to build effective engagement so be patient, and just do it day by day.
Most people don’t usually relate search engine optimization with their website’s design - but your site’s design, both the images and styles you
see as well as the backend - where meta tags and keywords are can dramatically improve your association’s rankings in search.
For most associations, your new donors find you via a search engine. Where do you rank on Google? Did you design SEO into your site’s
Your web analytics provide insights into your visitors’ interests and needs to help you come up with content ideas.
There’s a ton of data accessible to you about your audience within your google analytics
• Visitor Trends?
• Top Traffic Sources?
• Where do they go while on the site?
• How long do they stay?
• What content formats are most popular?
• Do these patterns tell you anything about where your customers are in their buying process, or what content is most effective at the different stages of their
RELATED IDEA: Use Google’s keyword suggest tool to better understand how prospects describe their challenges
Follow the Users Path
this has been anonymized and is one of the nonproﬁts google analytics visitor path views.
I’ve highlighted Facebook - and show how a user goes through the website. These are really
large numbers, not typical for some small/new sites.
Notice the path is from a landing page (although I’ve hidden the names, I can say each of
these in the 1st “starting pages” list is from a landing page that was speciﬁcally shared from
Facebook for tracking this.
Next we see the most frequented pages after the landing page/”homepage” for all intensive
Notice: events, about, and the actual homepage are the ﬁrst three visited, and depending on
which landing page, those next visits vary quite a lot.
You can use Google Analytics to really start to see patterns in how visitors are interacting with
your website. Look for the pathway visitors typically take as they arrive all the way to when
they convert/donate. Use these insights to better tailor your website to increase the desired
5 Minute Navigation Tune-Up
Take a look at your site's primary navigation links.
The left image is an example of a site navigation with unclear terms - it is difficult to tell that these are menu links, plus where does “strengthening” or “impacting”
go to? These don’t clearly tell a visitor what to do.
Same with Net2 navigation, the site lacks a clear call to action for donations/sponsorships. However, the menu is clean and simple and the homepage does contain
the “Join Netsquared” call to action - both in the nav and above the fold on the homepage.
Is the number of choices manageable or overwhelming? You don’t want to give your visitors too many menu options because people who are presented too many
choices will usually decide to not act at all.
Quickly read though the navigation labels. Do the words make clear what your visitors will find when they click to the next page?
Do you have clear calls to action in your navigation for links to conversion pages?
Is it clear that your navigation links to other content?
www.hubspot.com/examples-of-effective-calls-to-action is a great whitepaper you can download that talks about how to craft calls to action. Go get it!
Value Your Donor’s Time
I really love the Texas State Aquarium - if you haven’t visited them, you definitely should. They’re down in Corpus Christi Texas. The experience I’ve had
at the Aquarium has always been wonderful for me and my family, and so I was surprised that I didn’t receive the same experience on their website.
Don’t do this to people who want to participate in your organization. This site has members click through at least 6 different pages and forms before even
asking for the credit card. That’s tedious and way too complicated. I’d rather stand in line at the park itself and join by filling out a paper application than do
Streamline Your Online Forms
Only ask for the information
you NEED... a newsletter
subscribe form will require
less information than an
online donation form.
Collect as minimal info as possible, short forms generally have a higher submission rate than longer forms
Use forms to collect the right information - what do you really need to know from a visitor on that form to accomplish your objectives?
http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/32079/How-Long-Should-Your-Landing-Page-Forms-Be.aspx - additional reference to optimizing landing pages and forms for lead generation
Is your donation process
100% tablet and
I think this one slide is enough for this topic today, because this could become an entirely
If you can’t donate, join, register for an event, signup for a newsletter, or navigate your
website from a tablet or smart phone, then you’re going to lose traffic rapidly.
Focus on the pages that allow visitors to interact and engage with you - convert donation
landing pages, email newsletters, event registration pages, and contact forms to a mobile-
optimized platform ﬁrst.
Use analytics to see which pages are getting the most traffic from mobile and optimize those.
Then focus on making other pages mobile-optimized as you go.
Use Social Media Purposefully
I’m a strong believer that your greatest success will come from bringing the people you connect with on social networks to your website where they can learn more and donate, join, volunteer,
and share with their network.
Your content on social media should be more like an icebreaker that you use to start your conversation and ﬁnd people who have things in common with you. This conversation can then be
moved to your website later on. The reason you want to bring people to your website is because your website is where the transactions for donations and fees for things like events,
memberships and other programs and services occurs.
Also, People come to your website to learn more about you and credibility is key. Potential donors want to know what your organization uses donations for, who is involved, and hear the
stories of the people who are affected (positively) by your organization’s work. Social Networks don’t provide a space for you to truly provide all of this additional information, nor should it -
2 Free Social
Add a sharethis.com or addthis.com widget (or another one - I just like these 2 the best) to your blog or website
These are free -
5 great places to put them:
2) event registration page
3) blog posts/press releases, articles and news content
4) Photo albums and videos
5) donations/purchase “thank you” landing page **
Integrate your social media feeds with your website homepage
If we have time, I can demonstrate how to embed one of these on your website if anyone’s interested.
Increase Donor Engagement
• Engage Your Current Donors
• Test, Measure, Retest your Donation process
• Create a Sense of Community
Tips to Increase Donor Engagement
A. Start with your existing Donor/Contact List
Why? Because it’s more expensive to market to new visitors than to market to existing members of your org
* existing donors are more likely to donate again
* existing donors can help you fundraise to attract new people - reach into their networks to find new friends
B. Test, Measure, and Retest your donations process
* create a better user experience for donors
* reduce time and difficulty to complete
* reduce donor’s anxiety about the org’s credibility/effectiveness/page security
C. Create a Sense of Connection and Community:
* invite them to volunteer - and give them a stepping stone guide to getting involved. Ask on the donation form if they’d like to learn more about
volunteering (and memberships!)
* Say Thanks! All the time, especially when asking them to donate again, when they share, when they refer
* Encourage Donors to invite friends and family
* Find ways to reward top donors/supporters through exclusive access to view and contribute to content on your website
* Curate your community - they need attention, maintenance...
* Measure engagement
A great resource for learning more about Donor Engagement can be downloaded for Free at http://www.nten.org/research/2012-nonprofit-donor-
These are all low-tech, “old-fashioned” ways of reaching out to your current fans and asking
for them to help you grow your cause - make sure you’re asking with a gift in hand ready to
Remember, you’re inviting people to support your organization’s cause because you provide
a valuable service to the local and global community. Ask for something in return for the
work you do that’s a win-win for all sides.
Deﬁne Roles & Responsibilities for your members and donors that clearly outline how they
Make a Donation On Your
most nonproﬁt websites make it 7% (or more) harder to donate online than to purchase something from an e-commerce site -
people want to GIVE you money, and you make it harder on them? what’s the process for your nonproﬁt donation form? go online, donate $10 to your cause and more importantly, pay
attention to the process
is it more than 1 page/click to donate? how much personal information are you asking for and how much do you really need? how long does it take to complete? do they get a conﬁrmation
email? what does the page you go to after the donation is complete look like... how can you make that better?
Want more online donation tips? Check out my 2-part blog series I wrote: Make your nonprofit website a donor magnet:
Open Source CMS 30 Second Evaluation
over 61 million sites are built on WordPress, primarily a
If you’re technical, Drupal can do just about anything,
challenging for non-technical people to customize and manage
Specifically built for nonprofits, out of the box functionality,
“new kid” on the open source block.
Great for largely content-focused websites, limited
customizations and extended functionality.
Most nonprofits will need a CMS unless you’re lucky to have a staff that consists of experienced programmers and web designers.
Does everyone know what a CMS, aka a Content Management System is? Show of Hands and don’t feel like you should already know -
most people don’t know what a CMS is. Even many engineers and people with technical jobs.
A CMS is basically a pre-packaged software application that creates the website itself and has been designed to make it easier for non-
technical people to make changes to their website. Most website software today have editors just like the ones your email and document
software have. (ie Outlook, Word, Gmail, Google Docs)
If you can create a powerpoint slide or draft a Word document, then you can add and edit content in a CMS because they pretty much have
the same features and functions. There are some minor (and in some cases major) differences between platforms so try before you buy.
Here’s a little more details and I’ll have a handout for you with a checklist to help you evaluate different CMS platforms and find the one
that’s right for you.
Open Source vs. Proprietary?
Cons of O.S. --> it isn’t really free and comes with technical management requirements that someone has to be paid to do
Cons of Proprietary --> you don’t own it, and you can’t take it with you (ie Common Ground example)
Some Features Your CMS should include:
a) SEO capabilities
b) Mobile Accessibility
c) Content Collaboration tools - how easy is it to add content, how easy is it for others to add content?
d) Community management
e) personalization (can it be customized to match your brand?
f) social media integration
g) ability to export/import data
h) events - calendar and online registration tools
i) membership management
j) donation management
k) payment integration
l) reporting tools
If you’re interested in learning how to set-up a Tendenci website on your own, to self-host, then let me know and I’m happy to donate
some time showing you how. I also highly recommend Schipul.com if you’re looking for a more customized and managed hosting for
Automation and Analytics
some of my favorite website content management and content editorial calendar/management tools (I am not connected with any of them, in any way, other than I’ve had really great
experiences with each of these tools and their companies.)
image editing/creation tools:
http://www.techsmith.com/snagit.html - about $50 to purchase and I use it literally everyday at work
http://www.aviary.com/ - photo editing tool, cool mobile functionality
analytics tools - Google analytics
Collaboration and Editorial tools:
Social Media Management Tools
tweetdeck, sprout social,
engag.io - free tool that integrates with your gmail inbox and organizes your social network conversations
lists - use lists to segment and customize your outgoing messages (Google+, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
look at lists that you’re organization is listed on - who’s listing you? look at other people’s lists to find influencers and related people to follow and listen to
addthis and sharethis give you tools to allow site visitors to share your content -
use content from going out and doing interesting things, and writing about it, and get your members/fans to contribute (use hashtag wrap up from an event as a blog post to repurpose content
In addition to ESCHouston, of course :)
Here are some great, neutral organizations that provide Free training and resources for nonproﬁts looking for technology advice and recommendations.
Each of these organizations is a nonproﬁt dedicated to helping other nonproﬁts get a handle on technology. Use them and learn from them - they are my primary resources for learning all
this nonproﬁt tech stuff!
Bringing in Outside Help
80% of nonproﬁts outsource their website management. That’s why I’ve included handouts with questions for you to think about as you prepare to get quotes from website designers/
developers/ and agencies.
You probably don’t recognize all three of these guys, but the one on the left is Ed Schipul, who originally created Tendenci. The one in the middle is Dries Buytaert, the developer of Drupal,
and on the right is Matt Mullenweg, developer of WordPress.
You all have a great checklist in your folders with questions and tips to help you select your website ﬁrm.
Things to highlight
* volunteer / free work --> sounds too good to be true that someone will design your website for free? That’s because is usually is. The person means well, but their paying job and their
families will often take priority over your website project, leaving you in the lurch. It’s worth it to pay to get the website live. After that, ask your supporters to volunteer by contributing content
via sharing their stories about why they’re passionate about your nonproﬁt and why they participate to help you get more engaging content up.
* Important to consider what happens if you “break up”? Can you take everything with you - get your passwords, site data etc? Find the right ﬁrm that will let you walk out with your website
data without a hassle so you don’t have to begin from scratch again.
Questions? Who wants to evaluate their website? Time to demo any of what I’ve talked about?