One, two, three…Smile!

Donor photos are one of the most valuable pieces of donor experience content a nonprofit can have.  After doing a recent customer photo shoot, I was thinking about how wonderful it was to connect with our customers and what a huge asset we had in the photos.

I often see nonprofits with the “shiny, happy people” stock photos and shudder.  There is such a huge opportunity for nonprofits to connect with their donors and volunteers through photography.

Use Photos to Increase Web Traffic:

A report from Curata not surprisingly suggests that bringing visual components to website content is key to boosting engagement, and ContentLEAD found that adding images to your pages can result in 47 percent more clicks than pages with text-only articles.  Use images that illustrate your story or further convey your mission, purpose and goals.

If you want to learn more about the value of adding photos and tips to improve your search engine optimization just watch Google’s related Webmaster Central video.

Use Visuals to Tell a Story:

Another form of visual content that has helped web content marketing campaigns is the infographic.

Infographics have become increasingly popular for organizations attempting to differentiate their website from others, or those trying to draw more people to their sites.  I would suggest that nonprofits start thinking about infographics for annual reports.  They are more sharable, easier to digest, and more affordable.

Here is a great example of an infographic for the new Sage Nonprofit Cloud Suite.

Use Photos to Enhance Social Media:

Nonprofit use of social media is growing by leaps and bounds.  You can see just how nonprofits are using social media in Mashable’s infographic. In the study they found that 92% of nonprofits are using at least one social media button.

Using Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and other social networks do help nonprofits reach donors, but many NPOs are missing the opportunity to really leverage the networks.  Web Liquid recently found that 37% of users that saw visual content Liked the page, compared to 31% who saw video content, 27% exposed to text updates and 15% shown a link.  Pretty interesting!

Take-away: There are many ways to add visuals/images to your properties here are a few:

1. Add images to text content on your site.

2. Add photos of your employees, volunteers, and even your board members.  (Don’t use bad, grey headshots.)

3. Share images of your events on Facebook, Pintrest, or Google+.

4.Tweet photos from everything you do.

5. Capture photos of your donors and volunteers in action, just like we did!

1Thanks for the valuable info that helped build this post.

Things I have learned from our nonprofit customers that you can use!

We just hosted our first Customer Success Tour.  The idea, which seems like a no brainer now, had never been done before.   We wanted to bring our customers together.  Share where we are going and see where they are and want us to be.  Simple!

The event was an amazing success.  Here are a few of the top lessons I learned from our customers that you can use for your donors:

1. Communicate- Your donors want to know more.  Email is not enough.   We need to share what we are doing multiple times, and we need to share it in multiple channels.

2. Share- Your donors want to know how the organization is impacting others and what others are doing in the organization.   One of the primary benefits of the success tour was being able to share the success The Jazz Foundation is having with Sage Fundraising Online.   It was a win/win for everyone in the room.  We were able to share the success of  great product, and our customers were able to learn a great deal about online fundraising.  You can do that in your organizations too.(Thanks Petr!)

3. Give them what they want– I have said this a million times and heard it a billion, but it bears repeating.  If you are sharing information about dog rescue with a cat person the message will not be heard.  Target your audience based on what they want to hear and what they care about.

4. Timing- New York in December is beautiful, but it is also hard to navigate and a very busy.   Sadly we inconvenienced our customers by bringing them into the city during the Holidays.   A great lesson for us and you.   Is the timing of your events suited for your schedule or the schedule of your donors?   Make sure they both jive.

5. Answer the questions– A great learning for me was that we need to have a more succinct resource for supporting our customers, so we put together  a customer resources page to help answer their questions.  Time and again, I stumble upon nonprofit pages that don’t answer the basic questions of donors.

  1. Who are you?
  2. Why should I give you my money?
  3. Are you accountable for the money you have gotten before?

These are must have’s for all nonprofit websites, and it was a great reminder for me.

Take-away:  All in all, I learned more from those four short hours than I have in my five years with Sage.  When was the last time you got your donors together and asked them how you were doing?  Maybe it’s time!!!

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