Website must-haves for engaging your donors and attracting new ones
What happens when (potential) donors land on your website? You have less than 10 seconds to capture their attention and convince them to click through. In a world dominated by information overload, a powerful website is key to engaging your audience. Is your NGO using its website to its full potential? Here’s a list of website must-haves that will help you attract new donors and keep the current ones engaged.
The ‘Why’ reminder
As Simon Sinek puts it, the “‘why’ is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do. When you think, act and communicate starting with why, you can inspire others.”
Stating the problem front and center on your website isn’t only a way to engage new visitors but also a reminder for donors as to why they are getting involved in the first place.
Another important component is your value proposition (check out some tips on how to craft an irresistible value proposition). Why should donors support your organisation specifically? What is it that you do that is different from other NGOs? What is the impact you want to make?
Which brings us to…
The steps towards impact
What does impact look like and how are you planning to reach it? Making that clear and visible on your website will show your donors what strategies you are employing to generate your impact, helping you prove your expertise and establish credibility. A methodology you can use for this purpose is the Theory of Change. Check out the Akvo Foundation for an example and tips on how to start building one.
The ‘What’s new’ element
If you want your current donors to have a reason to return to your website (and maybe give more) and your new visitors to get excited about your work, the ‘what’s new’ element is essential for your website strategy. Think latest blog posts, news items, videos, ebooks, social media feeds, calendar of upcoming events – whatever format you choose, I usually advise for the new content to be featured on your homepage.
Your organisation is in constant motion and your (potential) donors should not have to dig through your pages to find that out. Coming back to a static website where you find the same content every time or landing on a website where not much seems to be going on can be a total buzzkill.
The projects you are implementing are your proof of impact. People want to know how their donations are being used or might be used, and put a face to the cause they are supporting or might support in the future. Personal stories can conjure up the strongest of emotions and trigger action.
By showcasing your projects and sharing impact stories, lessons learned and progress numbers, you will show transparency, build credibility and strengthen your connection with (potential) donors.
Here are some elements you might want to consider for your projects section:
• Goal of the project and activities being undertaken.
• Updates sharing the status of the project, lessons learned and impact stories in the form of blog posts, videos and photos. Here are 11 storytelling tips that will help you fuel your NGO’s fundraising.
• Infographics illustrating the results of your projects.
• Donor logos.
• Profiles of people working on the project.
• Knowledge resources developed during the project, such as studies, reports and presentations.
The Donors zone
Having a designated donor section featuring logos and testimonials will not only help you maintain a good relationship with your donors – as you acknowledge their support – but will also strengthen your NGO’s position. Why? Because showing potential donors who you are already working with proves your work is already valued and sparks interest in getting a seat at the table.
Another way to boost institutional donor engagement is by interviewing key decision makers and putting them in the spotlight. Pick a popular figure with an impressive track record in your field and ask for his/her views on a topical theme – for example a Sustainable Development Goal that your organisation is contributing to. This will give your donors a platform to share their views and your organisation a good brand boost and valuable content. However, although nobody in a position of power will have only fans, make sure to do a background check before.
The Get involved button
You probably go to events and talk to people face to face, develop relationships, write blogs, post on social media and send newsletters. While you’re building visibility, you need to make it easy for people to support your cause. A prominent Get involved/Donate button or any other call to action relevant to your cause can easily complement your other initiatives in rallying support.
The Get involved page
Once people click that button, the page they reach needs to be clear, engaging and user friendly. Here are some elements you should have on this page:
• Reinforce why it is important they get involved – videos work wonders!
• Explain the different involvement options: donations, sponsorship, fundraising, volunteering etc.
• Add a clear call to action to each type of involvement.
• Explain step by step how their support will be used and where.
• Feature impact stories and testimonials from other donors.
• Give an easy option to contact you in case they have more questions.
• Embed a newsletter sign-up form for people to receive updates about their involvement.
• Have a secure and user friendly system that allows for different payment methods and confirmations.
The invitation to conversation
To build lasting relationships and keep your (potential) donors’ interest alive after they’ve left your website, you need to spark conversations at every step of the journey. Here are a few simple tricks:
Email sign-up: Invite people to connect with you via email while they are engaged reading a blog post, checking out a project, watching a video or reading your story (pop-up windows often work very well as long as they are not overused). Don’t miss out on any opportunity to extend the conversation beyond your website. If they are donors, you want to show your gratitude, send project updates and persuade them to donate again. If they are not, with a good nurturing strategy, they might become donors at a later stage.
Social media: Connecting on social media is often less of a barrier than signing up by email. So in addition to just adding social media icons to the footer of your website, you can use your content to encourage people to join the conversation. For example:
• Create ready-made quotes to be shared at the click of a button from your blog posts or other resources.
• Feature share buttons for every piece of content and prepare ready-made posts that mention your organisation’s name (ie Twitter handle).
• Embed social media feeds in your homepage or your blog for people to get a glimpse into the conversation and be able to directly share or comment.
This will strengthen the sense of community, get people to engage more with your cause and automatically spread the word.
Segmented live chat and feedback: Inviting people to live chat is a great opportunity to listen to your audience, get brand-new ideas and improve what you do. And if you also ask a few segmentation questions while you’re at it (eg. role, main goal, challenge, organisation size, organisation type), you’re bound to gain some great insights about your audience and fine-tune your communications as a result. Depending on the tool you’re using, you can also personalise your live chat messages based on your visitor’s previous website journey. If live chat doesn’t seem to be an option for your organisation at the moment, you can also consider having a segmented feedback form that allows supporters to share their thoughts with you. It’s all about encouraging conversation.
Blog comments: It’s not enough to only add a comments plugin to your blog. Your readers can range from silent listeners to vocal followers. The latter are more likely to express their views but how do you ensure you’re addressing all groups? By asking questions and giving them a voice! Ask people what they think about the content, what their own experience is, what they think you’re missing and should cover next time. And then reply and take their comments into account in your next piece of content.
Over to you. Which of these elements are you already featuring on your NGO’s website? Please share your thoughts or tips in the comments below.
Planning a website revamp? Let’s work together on your content strategy and conversion techniques to make sure your website supports your organisation’s goals. Get in touch for a consultation.