Engaging Donors in an Online Age

Tuesday, I will be presenting at Emerge 2012.  The presentation will focus on how nonprofits can engage with their donors online.  The crux of the presentation revolves around three key aspects:

1. Listen– To be successful online nonprofits need to invest time in listening to their constituents, and engaging in authentic conversations.   By listening and engaging online nonprofits can create a 1:1 conversation with their donors in a 1:many environment.  

2. Learn– Nonprofit organizations should invest time and money in their online programs.  They should optimize their websites, create engaging donation forms, invest in integrated programs that include online elements, and they should make sure that their online story is just as (or more) engaging than their in person story.

3. Make in Easy- It is critical that organizations make it easy to engage online.  If the basics are covered, they should all be writing blogs, joining forums, providing RSS feeds, and participating in social media.  Thus making it genuinely easy (and fun if possible) to interact with their organization online.

Take-away: Check out the entire presentation, and please share some of the tips that you are utilizing to engage with your donors online.

Check out the entire presentation to learn more tips and tricks for engaging your donors online.

Engaging Donors in an Online Age on Prezi

14 Great Nonprofit Website Tips

Your organizations website is one of the most important assets you have in communicating your mission, yet it is often the last thing we think about as we prepare campaigns, events, and calls to action.  Here are a few best practices designed to help increase the ROI of your online donations.
1. Keep it short
Use short sentences and simple words.

2. Keep it positive
As a general rule, keep the story positive.  It is fair to share the plight of those you serve, but be sure to share how your organization is changing it, making it better, and how the donor can help.  People are driven to action by the desire to make a difference keep that in mind as you write the content for your site.

3. Use logos, graphics, and pictures
Make sure you are using your own graphics.  Avoid using clip art or stock photography.  Use images and elements that tell your unique story, and convey what your mission is all about.
4. Fire Sale Fonts and Sizing
Make sure your fonts are between 12 and 14px for the majority of your text. Using fonts sizes smaller than that make it hard to read and larger than that are a waste of space.  Stick with Arial or Times fonts for the majority of your text.  These fonts are clean and easy to read, and make sure all the fonts on your site match.

5. The Donate Button
Visibility is key for the donate button.  We recommend that at a minimum you place the button in the top right corner of every page.   It is hard to tell exactly what page a donor will be when he/she decides to donate, so make it easy.

6. Donate, Help, or Give
Test whether or not changing the name of your button makes a difference in your online donations.   We have seen cases where simply changing the text on the button to Help Us has increased online donations.

7. Ask for emails
Collecting a list of constituents’ email addresses will prove very valuable over time.  Ask for email addresses on the form and on the home page.  Potential donors may not want to give today, but they may want to hear more about your organization, and the projects that you are doing. 

8. Share the News
A newsletter is a great way to communicate.  Newsletters allow you to share your story, increase engagement, and get people involved in what you are doing.  Be sure to use the newsletter to push people back to your website where they can learn more and make a donation.
9. Search engine optimization
When you are writing the short and sweet content for your site, be sure to include key words or phrases people looking for your organization might type into the search bar.  For example, if you are a food pantry include food pantry, food donation, feeding the hungry, etc… as people looking to donate or seeking your service are likely to type those types of things into the search bar.

10. Stay on your page
Don’t make donors leave your site to donate.   Having to login to another site to donate to an organization is a strong barrier to donating.

11. Show the progress
Donors want to see that their contribution helped.  Add a progress bar to your donation page to show potential donors the goal and how they can contribute to it.

12. Color matters
The colors that you use on your site do matter.   For example, blue is calming, red is for an alert or emergency.  Make sure that the colors you are using communicate the intended emotion.

13. Not everything is front page news
The homepage should not list every program you have at your organization.   Everyone wants their project on the home page, but he homepage should be reserved for the organization as a whole.   Share the organizations mission on it and the projects that support that mission on ancillary pages.

14. Share the wealth
On your home page share how your organization is making a difference.  Share how their donation will help, and share what will happen if they don’t help.

Take-away: If you have other great tips, please share them here.  We all gain when we all share!

Reprinted from my blog post on www.sagewords.net