Online fundraising should be an integral part of your nonprofit’s fundraising plan. The best nonprofit websites are designed to encourage visitors to become donors to the organization.
Your nonprofit’s website serves many purposes, of course. Your organization may use its website to offer free information to the public, to assist those you serve with accessing resources, to sign-up volunteers, or to influence public policy. No matter what else your website does, though, it should serve a key fundraising role for your organization by helping you find new prospects and encouraging current donors to give again.
In looking at thousands of nonprofit websites over the years, I have noticed that there are several key things that the best nonprofit websites do that allow them to raise more money online than their counterparts. Here are the top four fundraising secrets of the best nonprofit websites:
#1: They Celebrate Donors
The best nonprofit websites are donor-focused… they celebrate their donors and show their appreciation for all those who contribute to their work. Many nonprofits try to hide their fundraising activities on their websites. Sure, they may put a big, bright “Donate Now” button on their homepage, but they try to keep the number of pages dedicated to fundraising to a minimum, focusing most of their online real estate to program information.
The nonprofits who have the most success with raising money online unabashedly recognize and thank their donors on their websites. They make it clear that they wouldn’t be able to do their work without the support of their donors. They include donor lists, donor profiles, donor stories. They don’t try to hide their donors or artificially segregate fundraising from programs on their websites. For a great example of this, check out the American Heart Association's Planned Giving Meet Our Donors page.
#2: They State the Need, Clearly and Emotionally
The best nonprofit websites state their fundraising needs clearly and emotionally. They include a compelling version of their case for support right on their websites. They show pictures and videos of their work. These nonprofits talk honestly about how much they need to raise and why they need to raise it. They’re transparent, and not afraid to tug at the heartstrings to get their point across. For a great example of this, check out the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation's Where the Money Goes page.
#3: They Show Social Proof
The best nonprofit websites show social proof to make it clear to donors that they won’t wake up with “donor remorse” after making an online gift to the organization. They do their best to make donors feel comfortable making a gift, by showing testimonials, videos, and comments from other donors who have supported them in the past talking about how glad they are to be donors to the organization.
Likewise, the best nonprofit websites recognize their donors by including donor lists right on the website (with the permission of the listed donors). Doing this non only offers additional recognition for your current supporters, but also shows prospective donors that they will be in good company by donating to your nonprofit. For a great example of this check out the Westtown School's Donor Testimonials page.
#4: The Best Nonprofit Websites Focus on Collecting E-Mail Addresses
Finally, the best nonprofit websites focus on collecting visitors’ e-mail addresses as a first step to building a lifelong relationship with the donor. Most people who visit your nonprofit’s website will never come back (no matter how compelling your site is) and you will have no way of knowing who they are. That’s why it is important to give your site visitors a reason to give you their e-mail addresses so you can follow up with them and cultivate them over the coming months.
The best nonprofit websites do this by encouraging visitors to sign-up for their free newsletter, and many times offer a special tip sheet, ebook, or other downloadable item for those who do. The nonprofit can then use the e-mail newsletter to stay in touch with the prospect and ultimately ask for a gift via e-mail or snail mail. To learn more about how to do this, read The Most Important Thing to Understand for Online Fundraising.
Your nonprofit’s website can and should be an integral part of your organization’s fundraising plan. Utilize these four secrets of the best nonprofit websites to help build an online presence for your organization that results in more prospects and donors coming in through your website than ever before.
Photo Credit: Chris