As a nonprofit professional, you know that the fundraising landscape changes each year. However, no one could have predicted the effects that COVID-19 would have, with many nonprofit organizations now solely relying on virtual fundraising efforts to continue operations.
Virtual fundraising has become more accessible and intuitive than ever before thanks to the extensive internet and the wide variety of donation tools available. Whether it’s with professional-grade comprehensive platforms or more one-off solutions, any size organization can now fully take advantage of virtual fundraising efforts, something that might not have been possible just a few years ago.
With more of your donor engagement taking place online due to social distancing guidelines, it’s a good time to take a look at your nonprofit’s website and determine if it’s doing all it can to support your virtual fundraising efforts. After all, your website is likely the first place that both current and prospective donors will go to learn more about your organization and get updated on current campaigns.
Here at Cornershop Creative, we specialize in helping nonprofit organizations make the most of their web presences and maximize their fundraising opportunities. When COVID-19 began seriously affecting fundraising and in-person donor engagement across the board, we knew that every nonprofit’s website would suddenly need to rise to the occasion.
We’ve compiled this quick guide of steps you can take to begin ensuring that your website is truly supporting and maximizing your virtual fundraising efforts. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Aligning web content with your mission and goals
- Catering to the needs of your various audiences
- Including clear, compelling calls to action
The best nonprofit websites are easy to use and meet the needs of all supporters who visit, no matter if they’re a new donor or a loyal supporter. If your own site isn’t pulling its weight in our new virtual fundraising environment, it’s definitely time to make a few updates. Ready to begin? Let’s get started.
1. Aligning web content with your mission and goals
This may seem like common sense, but it’s worth stating clearly— your nonprofit’s website should accurately represent your mission and fundraising goals. After all, how else are visitors supposed to understand the cause that you’re fighting so hard for?
Whenever updating or adding to your website, take a moment to pinpoint exactly what your organization is working towards and the specific goals that will help you get there. From there, consider how your website’s content can effectively express that mission and those goals. Make sure your nonprofit website has the following components:
- Mission statement page. Having a dedicated place for your mission statement is important so that supporters have a clear and easy-to-digest way to not only understand your organization but also tell others about it too. For example, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s mission statement is “To inspire conservation of the oceans.” If you don’t want to reserve an entire page for your mission statement, prominently including it on your “About Us” page, homepage, or in your header/footer is a good alternative.
- About Us page. In order to get more familiar with your organization, many people will likely head to your “About Us” page. This is a good place to introduce any specific players in your nonprofit as well as describe your organization’s history and how it came to be. If you’ve had any huge accomplishments or wins for your mission, you should also say so. This way, visitors understand who you are and see that you’ve genuinely made a difference.
- Within your homepage, consider how you can quickly express to supporters your current goals and the action you’re taking towards them. Highlighting a current or upcoming campaign is a great idea. For instance, if you recently participated in the Giving Tuesday Now campaign, one virtual fundraising tip is to display a graphic or call to action on the homepage that captures people’s attention as soon as they land on your site.
- Event calendar/registration. Your fundraising goals encompass both in-person and virtual campaigns and projects alike, and so should your nonprofit’s public calendar of events and opportunities. This way, site visitors can explore and get a good sense of what certain projects are and when they’re happening. Due to COVID-19, you’ve likely put a pause on in-person engagements and made the pivot to virtual alternatives. If that’s the case, your event calendar’s content should definitely be updated to reflect that.
- Fundraising forms. For each of your virtual fundraising campaigns, you should have a dedicated online donation form. This way, you can better describe what your organization is working towards and the impact a gift can make while making a more specific and compelling ask. From there, donors can familiarize themselves with the specific campaign, get inspired, and make a gift all from the same place!
It’s important that no matter what, your website content stays true to your nonprofit’s values and mission. While this seems simple enough, many websites still drive users away because its content is unclear, too confusing, or doesn’t immediately answer any questions. This often happens due to the design of the website and a lack of understanding of your audiences’ goals.
Along with creating web content that aligns with your mission and goals, you have to layout your content in an intuitive and navigable way in order to meet the needs of your website users. This is usually done with a clearly displayed menu with access to the most popular content and through appealing but unobtrusive media elements like images and video.
2. Cater to the needs of your various audiences
While ensuring that your website content aligns with your organization’s missions and goals is important, you also have to consider how it aligns with your audience’s goals. After all, in order to increase your virtual fundraising efforts, you need your supporters. You don’t want your website to be the reason people are driven away.
So, why do people visit your website and how can you make sure that your content provides those visitors with genuine value? Let’s first walk through the different audiences that might visit your website:
- Past donors. These are people who have given once or twice in the past but are still building a long-term relationship with your organization. They likely visit your website to get a sense of what your organization has accomplished since their last engagement and if there are any new campaigns they’re interested in supporting.
- Active supporters. These are the people who consistently find ways to support your organization and its mission, whether it’s with recurring gifts, volunteer time, or even peer-to-peer participation. They likely visit your website to get updates on current campaigns and check out new opportunities.
- Prospective donors. These are the people who haven’t given or supported your organization in other ways in the past. They might have never even heard of you before! They likely visit your website to familiarize themselves with your nonprofit and your mission to see if their values and goals are similar to yours.
Getting a better understanding of who might be visiting your website helps you determine the best ways to design and create its content. In order to cater to the needs of your various audiences, make sure the pages and content that each is seeking are organized and neatly displayed in a clear, navigable menu.
This menu should be present throughout all web pages and direct users to your most important or popular content. This way, your About Us page, events calendar, and fundraising pages are easily accessible to all!
Along with setting up your running menu, there are plenty of additional ways your website can support the needs of your various audiences. Make sure your own site is:
- Mobile-optimized. In 2019, 52.2% of all web traffic came from mobile phones. That’s more than half of the yearly internet use. It’s probably safe to assume that around half of your website activity might also take place on mobile phones, likely even more depending on your specific audience. Taking insights from this article, ensure that your website is mobile-optimized by incorporating simple layout elements and taking advantage of your content management system’s mobile optimization features. This way, anyone can find your website regardless of the device that they’re using.
- Accessible and ADA-compliant. Web accessibility and compliance is an increasingly important part of maintaining a nonprofit website This ensures that no one, despite any disability, will be prevented from accessing the content in your website. Understanding these concepts is the key to success and could even impact the future of your organization if not taken seriously. Some easy ways to improve your web accessibility are to provide text/audio alternatives to all images and staying away from any flashing graphics. To learn more about how this affects your nonprofit website, this article on Nonprofit Web Compliance & Accessibility can give more in depth insight.
- Virtual-friendly. In order to process online gifts, host virtual fundraising events, or provide digital volunteer opportunities, you need access to the right tools. Your nonprofit’s website builder should ideally integrate with your fundraising software and CRM in order to provide the most streamlined experience for your donors and the most value for your organization. For example, without an online donation tool and your CRM, you wouldn’t be able to collect gifts and record each donor’s information for future engagement.
To ensure that your website is supporting your virtual fundraising efforts, your content should be catered to the needs of your audience, all while maintaining accessibility and compliance. This way, as soon as a supporter lands on your website, they’re able to easily find what they’re looking for, no matter what.
3. Include clear, compelling calls-to-action
Now that you’ve ensured your website’s design and content accurately reflect your organization and meets the needs of your supporters, you can start determining the best ways to increase your virtual fundraising results. After all, your nonprofit website is the hub of all of your online fundraising engagements, whether it’s to register for a virtual fundraising event, submit a gift, or to pursue virtual volunteer opportunities.
You already know that displaying a clear and navigable menu is key to ensuring that visitors can access many of your virtual fundraising efforts, whether it’s your online donation page or virtual event registration page. However, by including compelling calls-to-actions (CTAs), you can further drive supporters to these landing pages and increase your fundraising revenue.
CTAs are buttons, links, or even appeals in plain text that help guide supporters to take a target action. For example, many nonprofits include CTAs linking to fundraising pages in their email newsletters that encourage readers to quickly give if they feel inspired. CTAs are a fundamental tool that leverages that moment of inspiration to give (or other ways to support) and provides supporters a quick and easy way to do so.
How can you incorporate CTAs into your nonprofit website and increase your virtual fundraising efforts? To better understand how you can utilize CTAs effectively, let’s think about your nonprofit through the eyes of a new supporter. With CTAs, you can help to facilitate that user’s initial giving journey. Consider the following:
- A new supporter searches your organization and lands on your website.
- On the homepage, the supporter clicks on the About Us link in your menu to learn more about what you do.
- When on the About Us page, the supporter clicks on a large button that directs them to the events calendar in order to learn more about the specific campaigns you host.
- After perusing the events calendar, the supporter clicks on a specific online fundraising campaign that they are interested in to familiarize themselves with the details.
- Once they fully understand the fundraiser and its goals, the supporter clicks the “Donate Now” button which takes them to the online donation form.
- The supporter fills out their information and makes a gift.
Incorporating link and button CTAs throughout various web pages helps you tell a story to supporters through your website content. This giving journey encompassed learning about the organization, resonating with a specific campaign, and then making that final gift.
This same train of thought can be applied to your other audiences, like past donors and active supporters. Just consider what their giving journey might look like and include clear and compelling CTAs throughout your website content in order to lead them to that final destination.
Though all of your current fundraising efforts have to now take place online, this doesn’t mean that it can’t still be an engaging experience for donors. There are tons of ways your nonprofit’s website can support any virtual fundraising campaign or project, but just remember to stay true to your mission and consider the needs of your supporters. Good luck!