Friday, July 16, 2010

Do you know how to donate on YOUR Web site?

By Dana Rinderknecht

Can you believe it is almost the end of July? For those of us in the nonprofit world, that means plans are under way for annual campaigns and year-end giving. It is time to get ready for the Giving Season.

Are you ready?

You probably have your direct mail/annual letter campaign designs started. Perhaps you even have it at the printers or even the mail house. Hours have been spent making sure that everything looks just right and that you are sending a message that will resonate with your donors and those who support you and care for your organization (or at least joined your database at one point!). But what happens once that campaign drops and gets into the hands of those supporters?

The Nonprofit Times did a study that found that more and more people are heading to the web for information before they make a donation. In fact, according to their research, 44% of respondents are looking on the Internet, up from 25% just three years ago. So that means your website must be ready to deliver a good impression and provide an easy way to donate.

Have you looked at your website lately? Have you asked someone who doesn’t look at your website every day to look at it?

Sometimes we are too close to what we are doing to adequately review our own work. I know that I always pass my information off to those who don’t know the information as solidly as I do for their feedback.

Take a look at how easy it is to make a donation on your site. Is your donation button “above the fold”? Does it stick out?

I look at organizations’ websites on a very regular basis and am amazed at how hard it is to actually give my money. Rarely is there a donate button on the front page. If there is one, sometimes it can take several clicks to actually find out how to donate. Then the most irritating thing to me is to have to print a form and write a check rather than make an actual online donation. That’s too hard; now I have lost interest and am on to the next place.

Now is the time to take a hard look at your Web site before donors start flocking to it (and it’s likely that nearly half of them will). Most of the time, just a few simple changes can make all the difference in the ability for your supporters to find what they need. Take a look and see what you can do to make it easy for your supports to learn about your organization and donate.

Are you ready?

BONUS TIPS:

• Don’t forget that we have an eye-catching “Donate Now” button GivingFirst participants can use and link to their GivingFirst donation page. Participants can access it from the administrative side of GivingFirst.org.

• Be sure to include a “donate now” link in every online communication you send out!

• Put a link in your e-mail signature.

• Include your “donate now” button in your e-mail campaigns.

• Make sure your website is listed on any offline communications, too.

Dana Rinderknecht is the GivingFirst manager at Community First Foundation. She has reviewed more than 300 nonprofit profiles and conducted hundreds of trainings for GivingFirst.org.

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