Passing the Two-Minute Test
Not many people hand out money to strangers. A potential donor will want to get to know your organization first. Sixty percent of donors hop online to visit your website prior to parting with their money. You have roughly two short minutes of their time to convince them that you are a worthwhile cause. Can your site pass the Two-Minute-Test?
Succinctly state your mission and how you accomplish it. For example, "Saving horses from slaughter with rehabilitation, training, fostering and placement." Also, if you can easily quantify your efforts, include that in a prominent location (i.e. "468 Horses Saved").
Core functionality could range from information dissemination, education, donor or volunteer seeking, outreach, etc. Whichever camp you fall in, design your site around that function. Secondary functions should fall into secondary placement within the design. Determine what you want people to do when they come to your site and make it exceedingly easy for them to accomplish it. Provide clear information and links.
Do you have any trusted affiliations, such as GuideStar and Charity Navigator? Place their seals towards the top of the page.
Testimonials also instill trust. Place scrolling testimonials on each page.
Give your visitors a sense of establishment by telling them how your organization got its start. Tell them what you've accomplished. Be specific and quantify where possible. List your board members' profiles, scheduled volunteer days, upcoming events, etc.
NO STOCK PHOTOS
Images are your best resource for placing your potential donor or volunteer into the heart of the mission your nonprofit is trying to resolve. Use emotional images of the people and animals you impact.
Show a picture of the 469th horse that THEY could save RIGHT NOW. Empower your visitor. It's especially helpful to show before and after images. Show the 468th pony that was sick, abandoned and neglected next to a rehabilitated shot with the arms of a loving little girl draped around his neck. This shows that your group elicits change.
HIRE YOUR VISITORS
Social media—specifically Facebook and picture-sharing sites such as Instagram—have become the core engine for many nonprofit websites. Make your goals shareable so your visitors can unleash it onto social media outlets. Place a "share" button under the photo of horse #469. People that are passionate about your mission can do much of the heavy lifting for you!
Fundraising software is now specifically programmed to work within Facebook. And chances are your new potential donor or volunteer found your website through a social media share.
EXTRA CREDIT: NEWSLETTER SIGN-UPS
Capturing visitors' emails can help retain donors and volunteers and even act as a potential soft conversion for those not yet ready to commit. Keep in mind that emails are easily forwarded and/or shared on social media outlets.
These 5 core tips should be the foundation for your website. Is your site already built? Do not despair. The principals can be retrofitted to an existing site.