5 Tips to Keep Your Website Fresh

keep your nonprofit website fresh: graphic of refrigerator with a computer monitor, fresh fruit in it

RePublished on Tech Soup, my favorite non-profit tech tool.

A website is the most important part of your nonprofit’s presence online, followed by email and social media. It is the online hub where people can learn about your work in a deep way, make donations, sign up for your email list, review volunteer opportunities, and much more. Without an interactive, up-to-date website, you don’t exist to millions of potential supporters.

How Can You Keep Your Nonprofit’s Website Fresh?

I’ve been helping nonprofits create and improve websites for over 20 years. I’ve seen a lot of exciting changes in what is possible as well as a lot of cautionary examples of websites withering from neglect. Here are five elements, features, and functions that are essential keep your website alive, kicking, and contributing to your success.

1. Your Website Is a Place for Stories

storytelling on a nonprofit websiteFacts and figures are part of the work of many nonprofits; however, it’s stories that stick with people; engage them; and motivate them to volunteer, donate, or help in other ways. Fresh content is what keeps a website alive. Ensure that your organization can generate stories and has a place to put them on the website.

Think about the people you help — not just direct clients, but others in the community who are affected by your work. Tell stories of your donors, your volunteers, your board members, and your staff.

Bring your organization to life by telling stories of the many kinds of people your work touches so that visitors see other people they can relate to who are supporting your efforts.

Encourage everyone connected to your nonprofit to help by sharing their story. It can be as simple as the answers to two questions — why they love your organization, and why they spend their valuable time or money to support your work. Three or four paragraphs that tell the story succinctly and that include at least one image (preferably more) is great content that helps keep your website alive.

2. Inspire People with Useful Calls to Action

person shouting into megaphoneThe way your website is set up and the stories you tell should be aligned with your desired calls to action. Make it easy for a visitor to take actions on your website. People come to websites to learn and then to act.

Each story should connect to an action. After I read a story about how great it is to volunteer with you or the important impact you make with my donation, encourage me to volunteer or donate. Then make it easy for me to take those steps.

Stay away from calls to action like “email us” or “call us.” Let me make a donation easily and immediately. Send me to a page that lists your current volunteer opportunities, where I can fill out a form to say how I’d like to help and what experience I have in that area.

Ensure that content and calls to action are easy to find. Have your donation, email signup, and search functions in the same place on every page of your website.

3. Set Measurable Objectives

two people holding measuring tapeHaving a website without clear objectives wastes time and effort. Just having something, anything online is not better than nothing. Every nonprofit has a mission and almost all have a strategic plan for how they will move towards meeting that mission.

Based on your strategic goals, have communication goals and objectives that support your organizational goals. This helps you make much better use of the time you spend not only on the website, but on email and social media as well. Create measurable objectives for each part of your online presence.

Examples:

  • When we post a new story on our website and share a link to it via email and social media, 50 people visit the website page within 48 hours.
  • When we run a fundraising campaign and share a link to the campaign website page via email and social media, 200 people visit the page within a week. Forty percent make a donation during their visit.
  • When we send out an e-newsletter that includes separate links to three new stories on our website, at least one of the links gets 75 clicks within 72 hours.

Sometimes the objectives will be guesses, but even those will help you measure progress.

4. Collect and Create Images

Art in Action nonprofit website screenshotThe Internet is a visual medium, and people process an image that tells a story faster than reading the proverbial 1,000 words.

Collect images everywhere you can — in the field; at gatherings; at special events; with donors, clients, volunteers, or friends of the organization.

Then create an image library that you can pull from when you need images for your website, email, social media, or print communications.

There are many excellent online resources to help your nonprofit with creating graphics, infographics, videos, photo essays, and other types of digital storytelling. Search on the Internet with “nonprofit” in front of any of those terms to find helpful hints.

5. Increase Your Capacity and Keep Your Online Presence Alive

horse trying to pull heavy cartKeeping your online presence alive requires time and effort. There are people in your community who are online regularly and can help with writing stories, taking photographs, and making images. They can even do updates or help in other ways with website, email, and social media tasks.

Ask them. Talk to them about your goals and objectives for the website and other online activities.

See who has talents or expertise in those areas who can commit to doing one or two activities a month. With everything else you have on your plate, trying to add additional tasks means that things get dropped, delayed, or don’t happen at all.

There are too many nonprofit websites in the “digital graveyard” with outdated content, old images, and no-longer-relevant information. By making some simple asks, you can increase your organization’s capacity to maintain your online presence. And this approach ensures that you make the most of what the Internet can bring to you.

Next Steps for Keeping Your Website Fresh

What is one thing you can do to increase your capacity to tell stories? Gather and manage images? Create calls to action, then set and measure objectives? Take a step today and you’ll be on the road to a happy, healthy website that will serve your nonprofit well and help you meet your mission.

About the Author

John KenyonJohn Kenyon is a leading authority on nonprofit technology and communications. He is an educator and consultant who’s worked exclusively with nonprofits for over 25 years providing advice, teaching seminars, and writing articles. John is an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco and Sonoma State University. He has been a featured speaker across the United States, England, Australia, and online.

This blog post was originally published on John Kenyon’s blog.

Image 1: TechSoup

Other images:  flickr: prawnpie, GustavodaCunhaPimenta,Tim Bueneman; saysc.org; ccisco.org

Giving Tuesday–Yes, You Should!

Giving Tuesday is just around the corner and you are probably wondering if it is worth it to participate at this late date.  The answer is, Yes.

Now in its fifth year, #GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since its inaugural year in 2012, #GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

Visit http://www.givingtuesday.org to learn even more to get tool kits, press releases, and the ever important emails for you to send out.  They have done it all…you just need to go grab it and share it.

Below is a great infographic from Salas lab with just a bit of evidence as to why you should participate.

Take-away: Get busy…it’s really close to giving Tuesday and you don’t want to miss out on this great opportunity.

Strategic Planning for Dummies

How to do organizations create good strategic plans?  The answer is simple…keep it simple.  Strategic plans should be living, breathing, flexible documents.  They should be a benefit to the organization, not a hindrance.  They should be reviewed regularly, and they should be changed.  They are intended to help you grow, not stiffle your organization.

Here is a great simple document that you can use to help you start creating a strategic plan: https://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/documents/PDF/StrategicPlanningForDummies.pdf

Take-away:  After you have created your plan, place your goals in a public space.  This will allow your organization to easily view them, track them, and determine if you are making progress towards accomplishing them.

Top 10 Ways to Kill Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign

It’s time…if you are not already planning your year-end campaign, you better get started.

This year, more than ever, you will need to stand out…everyone is getting it now, so the competition for $$$ is real!

  • They will want to know you are making an impact
  • They will need to be engaged
  • They will need to know it’s worth it

So, let’s help you avoid making some serious mistakes.

1.  It’s not about you!

Make sure you focus on the donor…what is in it for them?

2.  Don’t make a plan.

I’m sure you will remember what you wanted to do in October when December rolls around.  Take a day to actually make a timeline…when are you sending a letter, a postcard or even 2, when are the emails going out, what social media assets are you going to use.  Failure is inevitable if you don’t make a plan!

3.  Be Vague.

It’s important for donors to understand what you need, what you will do with the donation, and the impact it will make.

4.  Use a boring mailer.

Long paragraphs, multiple pages, no white space, and no story is sure to kill a campaign. Another sure-fire killer is using a plain No.10 white envelope.  Consider using over sized postcards..they really stand out in the mail.

5.  Don’t update your web site.

The first place donors considering giving will go, will be your website.  Make sure you have a clear donate now button, and make sure it goes to a page that makes it easy to give to you.  Make sure you share your impact…what have you done this year…why should they give you their $$$?

6. One & done.

As you are planning your campaign, keep in mind that it is a campaign.  That means one mailer or one email is not enough.  One is better than none, but it is not a year-end campaign.  You have to start somewhere, but work to increase your touches each year and adding multiple touch points will help ensure a quality campaign and strong results.

7.  Don’t use social media.

 

While social media alone does not make an annual campaign,  it sure can boost awareness during that time period.  It can help keep your organization top of mind and in front of prospective donors.

8.  Don’t send your final email during the last two days of December.

The last day of the month is the strongest day of giving for the entire year.  Your year-end campaign needs to have an email component that launches during the last couple of days of the year, and a final push on the last day of the year.

9.  Don’t hand write your thank you notes.

Nothing says thank you like a tax receipt.  A tax receipt is not a thank you.  Make sure you send a hand written thank you.  Enough said!!!

10. Don’t put your hard work to future use.

Most organizations fail to follow-up with new donors and annual donors throughout the year.  Make sure your donors feel like they are a part of the organization even if they only give once per year.  Establish a welcome program and a quarterly campaign that keeps those annual donors in the loop.

Take-away:  Now is the time.  You have a  huge opportunity to grow…MAKE IT HAPPEN!!!

How to create a nonprofit video on a tiny budget.

Animoto is one of my favorite tools.  Yes, I am aware that it has been available for some time, but it just keeps getting better and easier to use.

I am speaking as the keynote for Habitat for Humanity on Monday.  One of the tips I am recommending is using video to entice and engage volunteers.  I decided to make a quick example rather than just a recommendation.

 

Not even joking this video took me 6 minutes to make on Animoto.  I know it is not the world’s greatest video, but seriously…6 minutes.

All you need to do is drag 5-10 pictures to the desktop, add your logo, and a few text clips. Presto, you have a volunteer video.

If you have very limited time and budget, this is going to change your life.

Take-away: Video is great for your site, for engagement, and your budget using Animoto, so start creating.