publication date: Jan 25, 2012
author/source: Sumac Research
Research shows that you have about three to seven seconds to
grab a website visitor's attention. When it comes to donors, however, you don't
just want to grab their attention, you want to give them the information they
need and make it easy for them to donate.
Does your organization's website do this well, or could it
be a little more donor-friendly? Here are four rules to get you thinking about
where your website stands and what changes you can make to help turn visitors
Rule # 1: have a good
The defining statement should be one of the first things a
visitor sees when they get to your website. What's a defining statement? It's
more than your mission statement. It's the statement that sets you apart from
other nonprofits and tells donors why what you do is so great.
This defining statement is responsible for capturing the
visitors' attention in those first few seconds and getting them thinking that
your organization might be worth supporting. For that reason, this statement
a) Be on your homepage
It shouldn't be buried away in
the About Us section of your website, or somewhere else that makes visitors
have to dig for it. Instead, it should be prominently displayed on the
homepage, impossible to miss.
b) Be powerful
"We feed the homeless," for example,
is not going to cut it. There are dozens, maybe even hundreds of charities
feeding the homeless. Why should donors support you?
You need to start thinking in deeper terms about what
defines your organization and what makes it great. Is it the way you operate?
The impact you have? The reach of your services? Charity: Water
, for example, doesn't just tell visitors
what they do, but that 100% of donations directly fund water projects. Now
that's defining, and a good reason to donate! Here are a few more good ones:
The Cara Program
prepares and inspires motivated individuals to break the cycle of homelessness
and poverty, transform their lives, strengthen our communities, and forge paths
to real and lasting success.
Action for Children
supports and speaks out for the UK's most vulnerable and neglected children and
young people, for as long as it takes to make a difference in their lives ...
More than 3,000,000
reports of child abuse and neglect will be filed in the United States this year.
Rights is fighting to
make sure that's not the end of the story.
Rule # 2: be transparent
Once you've captured visitors' attention with a powerful
defining statement and some compelling pictures depicting the impact of your
work on your homepage, they'll likely want to see more information on your
services and programs before they decide to give. They want facts on how you
use donations and the impact of your work: facts that show you are efficient,
effective and accountable. Make sure you include this information and make it
easy to find.
Rule # 3: make it
easy to donate
Okay, so you've captured donors' attention, you've given
them all of the facts they need, and now they're ready to donate. But ... they
can't find the Donate Now button! After working so hard to convince them to
give, you really don't want donors running into this problem.
The solution is simple. Put a Donate Now button on every
page of your website. The upper right-hand corner, one of the most prominent
spaces on each page, is a great place to put it. Make the donation process as
simple as possible. Don't make donors set up an account or ask them for any
more information than you need to process the donation. If donors have to do too
much thinking or go through multiple pages filling out information, you'll lose
Rule # 4: make it
clean and easy to navigate
Lastly, make sure your website is clean, easy to navigate,
and clutter-free. Think about your website as a tool that guides visitors
through the process of learning about your organization and eventually to
making a donation.
The homepage should serve as an introduction, a glimpse at
what you do and why it's important. Don't clutter this page with news and
events. Instead, limit the text and pictures to just what's needed to tell
people what you do and why it's important. Donor-friendly links like Programs,
Services and Your Donation can then be used to guide donors to the information
they need to make a decision to give.
Sumac is a complete, integrated software
solution for nonprofits that tracks lapsed donors and distributes personalized
electronic and paper communication easily and cost-effectively. For more
information, visit www.sumac.com.