What’s in a website? It’s a tactical tool for getting data into your system right? It allows your staff to put the power into the hands of the participants so they can register online, get help online, and donate online. That means less paper forms for you to input into the computer later. But is it anything beyond the tactical and time-saving?

Yes. Yes. And yes again!

You may not be thinking about your website as an acquisition piece or figuring it into your strategy for growing your event. But think about this: for many of your potential donors and participants, your website is the first impression they have of your organization. And that first impression may make or break a decision to interact further with your organization. If planning for your website is not sitting in the forefront of your program strategy, you are doing yourself and your event a huge disservice.

How can you make a good impression on your event website?

1. Provide meaningful, mission-centric imagery.

Think strategically about the images you are placing on your event site. Do the images actually have to do with your event, and your location? Are they relevant to your event and your mission? Don’t just slap up any old stock photo of people running or biking. You want your site to tell a story, and you want that story to inspire. Include images of real people at your event who are impacting your mission.

2. Show people your event is fun!

Make them want to be there.  This really goes along with my point
 above about the importance of compelling imagery: give potential participants a reason to get excited. I love how The National MS Society has done this with the site for its annual event, MuckFest. Doing something good for the world? Sounds great. Having a ton of fun while doing it? Even better.

muck fest

3. Make registration and donation calls to action extremely apparent.

Think about where you place your donate button, your registration button, and your event look-up. These page elements should be front and center on your homepage. Do you have events in every state? If so, make it very easy to sort by state, whether using a map, a dropdown menu, or search field. Cycle for Survival’s website is a great example of this.

cycle for survival

4. Show impact from prior years.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s Longest Day event website does a fantastic job showing impact from the previous year, and does it in a way that also drives registration for the next event.

longest day

5. Provide content that is relevant, easy to digest, and skim-able.

Use bulleted lists, break up paragraphs, and don’t feel like you have to provide every single bit of information about your organization on the event registration website. Include information relevant to the event, event FAQs, event impact, and contact/help information. Formatting content into short paragraphs and lists makes it easy for your supporters to glance over your site and easily find what they are looking for.

These are just a handful of simple rules to live by when planning out your event website and turning it from “drab” to “fab”. It’s not just what you use to get things done; it’s what you use to meet new supporters and welcome them into your world.

If you take away just one thing from this, let it be this: Don’t skimp on your event website.

I have often heard nonprofit professionals say they don’t want their sites to look too nice because of what donors might think. If that is your fear, think about it this way: Don’t you want to show your organization as a successful, well-oiled machine that knows what it’s doing?

First impressions mean a lot.

p2p banner ad


Taylor Shanklin is a peer-to-peer boss lady, full-time mom and part-time marketing consultant in the non-profit sector.  Prior to her leap into full-time motherhood, Taylor spent an eight year tenure at Convio and then Blackbaud. In her time at Blackbaud she worked with organizations large and small and worn many hats.  She has led numerous Luminate Online and TeamRaiser implementations, and  has worked as a strategy consultant with the Go! program.  Some of her peer-t-peer projects included working with Alzheimer’s Association The Longest Day, National MS Society, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Great Strides, and ALS Association’s Community of Hope.

Taylor (a.k.a., T-Shank) is a total coffee addict and has a particular affinity for peer-to-peer fundraising and has completed several Team in Training events with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, receiving her triple crown for having competed in cycling, triathlon and marathon events. When not working, she is busy chasing around her two kiddos, lifting weights and getting in a little guilty TV time.  Originally from Austin, TX, she and her husband are huge UT Longhorn fans.  You can follow Taylor on twitter @tshankcycles and find her blogging on npENGAGE. Hook ‘em

Get nonprofit articles, best practice advice, fundraising ideas and invaluable industry reports and webinars delivered for free!