Updated: Oct 6
In this day and age your digital presence is vital for fundraising success. As millennials are reaching their 30s (and even 40s) they are becoming the next donor base to reach your organization's individual donor goals. But how do you create achievable goals and create sustainable practices to reach them?
A good old fashioned checklist. Well, kinda.
This checklist is only as good as the work and effort you put into it. However, I find that this is a wonderful start to getting your organization on track.
Conduct an audit. Ask: is your website is reflective of the message you want to put out into your community? Is it easy to use? Is it informative but consumable? Is it aesthetically pleasing? Is it gaining enough traction? Just like you conduct a SWOT analysis on your organization when you're creating a strategic plan, you need to conduct a SWOT analysis on your website (and there are plenty of experts to help guide you through one).
Launch a new website (if your SWOT analysis suggests one). This entails a lot of work in both design and functionality. There are wonderful hosts (like Wix) who aid you through the website building process with ease, and there are wonderful website designers to assist you. I have personally gone both routes, and it all comes down to your specific organization and your organization's bandwidth.
Prominently feature a donate button. Seems obvious right? I cannot tell you the number of nonprofit websites I have visited where I could not find a donate button. Nowadays we don't have time to stop, call, and mail a check. Many donors are turning towards online methods of. sending a gift. The goal is that that someone will visit your beautifully designed website, be moved by your work, and click the donate button to send a gift. Right now as we are coming up to uncertain times, every chance to receive a generous gift, no matter the size, is important.
Configure your search engine optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics. All of this work should be measurable. SEO and Google Analytics are free tools that you can use to track your traffic and obtain some helpful information about your audience.
Test your website on mobile devises. More and more people use their smartphones to access the Internet than ever before. If your website isn't designed to be mobile-friendly, you are potentially losing out on clients, partners, and donors. Wix and many other hosting platforms have mobile design features that allow you to edit and design your mobile site. Take advantage of that!
Add social sharings. Again, most hosting platforms offer social sharing options for visitors to share your website on their social media pages. The more people that know about the amazing work you're doing, the better.
Keep it updated. 3.03 billion people use Facebook - the largest platform worldwide. As social media platforms have become integrated in our every day lives, Facebook is oftentimes used as a tool to learn more about nonprofits, connect with your staff, and share their experiences with your organization. Keep posting quality content, answering messages, and staying active on your followers feeds. Which platform is right for your organization is another blog post for another day, but you should definitely be on Facebook without a question.
Use Facebook events. Most people nowadays learn about upcoming events through social media. The next time that you host a cocktail hour for your organization, don't just email invitees. Create a Facebook event. With Facebook's algorithm, it only takes one friend to become interested in an event for that event to pop up on others' pages. Additionally, it will appear with local events when people searching upcoming events in their area. Your next donor could just be waiting to come across your next fundraising event!
Use a great page photo - your logo specifically. I cannot tell you the number of times I searched for a nonprofit on Facebook, found a page with their name but not a logo as the page photo, and immediately clicked away. Was it the one I was looking for? Probably. But did I stick around to find out? Nope. Not many of us do. In the digital age, we don't have time (which sounds silly I know) to do even 15 seconds of detective work. If someone is not already invested in your organization, I can bet (and scores of studies can too) that they will not spend the time to figure out if you are the organization they're looking for.
Create a system to respond to breaking news and crisis situations. The moment a crisis hits, whether that is a pandemic or major event within your organization, you will not have the bandwidth to sit down and create a response plan. Trust me. I've had a client who had not one but two major events that completely disrupted their operations, and the first time they didn't have a plan. When news stations were outside their building covering the tragedy, concerned members of the community were sending emails, posting on their Facebook page, and sharing all kinds of information online that my client did not necessarily want spread all over the Internet. (They even had major donors and foundations calling. It was a nightmare.) The second time a crisis hit they were prepared with a comprehensive communication protocol that covered news stations, their social media channels, email lists, and newsletters. That little bit of time they spent creating a crisis communication plan made all the difference in assuring their clients, donors, stakeholders, and community that they were capable of containing the crisis and continuing to serve their community. I cannot state this enough: CREATE YOUR CRISIS AND BREAKING NEWS COMMUNICATION PLANS.
Very few things are one size fits all - or even one size fits most. Like all suggestions and checklists, not everything will work for your organization for a plethora of reasons. But what I liked so much about this list is that it has a diverse array of ideas and strategies. Take a solid read. Identify the strategies that work for your organization and bandwidth. Go on your way to digital success!