publication date: Jul 15, 2011
author/source: Ryann Miller, Fraser Green
month, Ryann Miller
and Fraser Green
review the website of a
selected Canadian charity, focusing on its fundraising effectiveness. It's a
chance for the charity to receive personal coaching from two experts on online
communication and fundraising. This month's site is Missing Children Society of Canada
I hope you and baby Julian are enjoying your first summer together!
This month, we've been asked to look at the site of the
Missing Children Society of Canada. I've spent some time on this site - and I
think I have mixed feelings about it.
Now as you know, I don't look at sites from an online giving
point of view. Rather, I look at them through the eyes of a potential donor who
is using the site to decide whether or not to make a first gift. My question is
simply, "does this site motivate me to give?"
Getting the mission
This site has some definite positives in my opinion:
Boosting the viewing,
- I like the missing children
posters right up top on the home page. This brings the mission to life in
a vivid way.
- I also like the "success
stories" tab located right below the posters I've just mentioned. When I
click on the tab, I get a menu of ten stories about children who've been
found and reunited with their anxious parents. I always preach about
showing results - and these guys have done it nicely!
- I love it that the
organization's vision, mission and guiding principles are clearly and
compellingly laid out for me. I'm blown away at some of the really big
charities that don't bother to do this. I think it's critically important.
- This site is chock full of
great information for parents - including how to keep your kids safe from
abduction and what to do if your child does go missing. The information is
clear and action-oriented. This tells me the organization does real work
There are however a few areas that I wasn't as crazy about:
I don't know about you Ryann, but I'm just not
crazy about all that use of vivid red on the site - include red type in the
headers. My eyes just don't like it much.
I understand that resources are limited - but
this site screams at me that video should be used as well as photos. Show me
one or two one-minute clips of a mom with found child on her lap. In tears of
gratitude. Telling me how grateful she is to the Society - and its donors - for
finding her child. Now that would be amazing!
I was happy to see the "Donate Now" button in a
prominent spot on the home page. But when I clicked on it, I found it pretty
one-dimensional - only encouraging one-time, online gifts via credit card. I
didn't see monthly giving anywhere - nor did I see anything about legacy giving. I think these folks might well make more
money by working on their "donate" page.
Finally - and this is a big one for me - I think
that storytelling and emotion have been under-used on this site. I appreciate
that this is a careful balance with an organization like this one - but having
said that, I'd encourage them to turn up the emotional volume.
All in all Ryann, I'll give this site B minus. For the first time, I'll actually split my
grade into two parts. On the mission and program side, I think it deserves an
A. As a marketing and fundraising tool, I'd have to give it a C.
That's enough from me. You're the new mom. What's your take?
this site definitely hit a raw spot for me as a new mom. I hope no one I know
ever needs their services, but I'm thankful they exist and are working on the
frontlines for searching families.
If I were judging the fundraising alone, the Missing
Children Society of Canada website would get a C. They need to tell a more
compelling story on all donation-related pages, explain succinctly where the
money goes, offer a name/phone number/email address of someone to help with
donations, and offer more ways to give. There's nothing wrong with what they
currently have, but it can be better.
One last thing - offer personal fundraising through the
site, so that individuals can raise money themselves for MCSC. I bet the
communities of people affected by a missing child would appreciate a channel to
get involved in that way.
They do a decent job of engagement, including a Facebook
page, a Twitter feed, a blog and a news feature on the site. The nature of this
organization lends itself to social media, so I'd expect that all those
channels are employed to help in the search for missing kids, as well as for
public awareness campaigns.
Because social media is popular with young people, it seems
like a fantastic tool for MCSC to use to reach this demographic and educate
them about staying safe.
The MCSC site does an adequate job of relaying the relevant
information on progams and purpose, but it doesn't have any real warmth. Are
parents/guardians the primary users of this site? Is the messaging geared
towards them? Considering the highly emotional nature of the work that MCSC
does, I think the messaging on this site could be less "handshake" and more "hug,"
so to speak. It wouldn't detract from the work that is done, and it would set a
tone of support for site users.
As noted above, I think some thought should go into who the
primary site user is and what they need. Then MCSC can cultivate the voice of
this site accordingly. I definitely think it could be warmer.
The site itself is adequate, but seems aged. And a small,
but important thing: the leaderboard (the banner at the top of every page) should
be clickable back to the homepage.
As Fraser says, the red is bit hard on the eyes. We
understand the significance, but they could use softer colours with red as a
highlighting colour, not the only colour on the site. There other ways to show
the urgency of the issue.
Some time spent on the goals and objectives of the site
would go a long way and help address the challenges and issues that this site faces.
One main issue is the lack of ways to get involved, specifically personal
fundraising. As well, the site needs to be freshened up.
As a new mom, I appreciate the purpose of the organization
and its programs. But I think it can communicate what it does, and appeal for
donations, better than it does now. I give this site a C+. MCSC
marketing and communications coordinator Becky Scheer
says, "The comments and suggestions they made are quite helpful and timely since we're working on the new site as we speak. . . . we are currently revising our website and applying their insights."
To submit your site for review, contact email@example.com.
Ryann Miller is director of nonprofit services at Care2, where she helps charities and nonprofits recruit online
supporters. She is the former managing director of DonorTrends and was a senior fundraising consultant at HJC New Media.
Fraser Green is chief strategist at Good
Works, a consulting firm that teaches charities how to tell their stories
with more passion, emotion and soul. He specializes in donor listening and
coaching charities on how to meet their donors' expectations, wants and needs.
Ryann's web site is www.Care2.com and Fraser's is www.goodworksco.ca - in case you want
to pronounce your web jury judgment on them!