7 Ways Your Website Affects Your Nonprofit Funding
For many nonprofits their website is one of the first sources of information that potential sponsors see when vetting particular nonprofits for funding. In a lot of cases the organization’s website doesn’t live up to the great work put forth by the nonprofit. I’ve had a chance to work with a plethora of nonprofits of varying causes and one theme rings true with most: the website is just plain bad. Usually it’s very outdated and isn’t maintained. Most websites also lack the features and content that would appeal to sponsors, donors and members. The really sad part is that executive directors tell me that potential funders have actually told them that they cannot support their cause because the website is not up to par. Many funders like to support organizations that look good while doing good. Here’s a list of 7 areas where your website may be affecting your funding.
Look and Layout
If your website was created prior to 2011 and hasn’t been updated since; your website is out of date. When it comes to look and layout; a potential funder’s first glimpse of your organization can put them off in seconds. As you know first impressions will make or break you. A poor design layout that doesn’t complement the organization can be disastrous. Your website should be responsive (mobile friendly) and should have a design aesthetic that’s appealing and engaging. Big hero images and sliders are the order of the day. You’ll notice how most social media networks now allow you to upload a big cover image on the top of your page. This area of the site is prime real estate to showcase what your nonprofit does and also provides a way for funders to connect directly to you. Utilize imagery to emotionally connect with your funders and sponsors.
Other items on your page should include is your recent blog posts, photos, donation calls to action, and video. Think of your homepage as the lobby of your office. You want people to immediately get a sense of all the work that you do and the accomplishments thus far.
What can people do on your website? If they can just read what you do and fill out a contact form; you are missing out on the advantage of having a website. Potential funders, sponsors and donors should be able to engage with you. The community at large should be able to engage with you. There should be features on every page to accept new sponsors, volunteers, members, partners, etc. There really shouldn’t be a page on your website that doesn’t have a call to action. Users should have the ability to sponsor (pay for) your new programs, volunteers should be able to signup and schedule an orientation date. Members should be able to purchase and renew annual memberships. This is what I mean engage. Once again, way more interaction than a contact us form.
Content is king. What does your website say? Is the information correct? Is the staff directory current? Are there new programs that should be highlighted? Do you have any recent photo opps that should be mentioned? What areas of need does your nonprofit currently have and how can the community meet those needs? Do you have a blog? If so, is it current and does it speak to your target audience? All of these are great content questions. I encourage you to review your website page by page and answer these questions. There is no better content that connects with people on all levels than video and picture. Make sure your website is stocked with current content that tells your story to the appropriate audiences.
This is so key today with nonprofits and for profits alike. Make sure that your website shows how the funds are used and the outcomes. Give your funders and sponsors a transparency page which details how funds are raised and used on a monthly basis. This is one piece that I and millions others would love to see nonprofits share with us. You can use this area to show where the needs are and provide opportunities for the funding community to get involved. Include salaries, project costs, income received from public donations, partnerships, and grants; down to the penny. literally show your cash flow statement for each month; money in and money out. Also, show where your cash reserves are for the prior month. This shows the funding community that your nonprofit is an excellent steward of the funds that come in through your doors. This level of transparency is needed today for every nonprofit.
Is your website smart? Does your website help you market and manage your nonprofit? Today’s websites can do a lot more than you think. Your nonprofit website should function as an extension of your employees. It should educate, market and sell your nonprofit 24/7. Things such as event, donor, member, and volunteer management can and should be done by your website. In addition, website content should be easily updated by staff. This can be done by employing the use of a content management system; such as Joomla or WordPress. Even non tech savvy individuals can update your website with fresh content, pictures, and video.
The funding community and your general audience should be able to connect with your social media profiles directly on the website. This can be accomplished by using the specific social network widgets and integrating them with your site. Funders and donors should be able to follow your nonprofit on social media without having to search for you on the various networks. They’ll now be able to see your updates within their own newsfeeds and have the ability to engage with the nonprofit. Integrating your twitter stream on your website can show your depth with the community by the level of engagement with your audience.
Do you have an email newsletter that you currently send out to your donor base? How do you update the list? If you have to manually add email addresses after each event you are overworking your staff. You can easily add an email newsletter signup to your homepage and blog, so users can stay update with the latest ‘haps’ of your nonprofit. Since users can directly add themselves to the list you no longer have to worry about the hours it takes to maintain a manual email distribution list. Email marketing is still alive and kicking. You can take full advantage of this tool by setting up a few emails in advance that automatically “drip” to the funding community telling your story over a series of emails resulting in an ask on the last email.
Your website can and will affect your funding. Having these basics covered will show your funding community that you mean business and you take your nonprofit’s mission serious. By having a website that is functional, attractive, engaging, feature and content rich, you will stand out in the crowd of other nonprofit’s in your space competing for the same dollars. If your nonprofit could benefit from a new website or online marketing; schedule your free strategy session. As mentioned in the intro it could mean the difference of being funded or passed over.
I’d love to hear from you leave a comment or question below.