Having a well-executed and simple website can be a great, low-cost extension of your non-profit – or a huge waste of time. As many charities increase their visibility during the holidays, I’m struck by how many have churned away obvious hours into sites that offer little that would help them move towards their stated organizational goals.
I’m not picking on one non-profit here – this is prevalent and widespread. I also realize that most sites are donated or done by volunteers. But, this is the point of my post. With limited resources, it makes sense to put every minute or dollar to good use. Here are a few tips for your non-profit website that will help accomplish more with limited resources.
First – keep this in mind: If you have 15 seconds to do something on your website with a visitor, what is it going to be? Impress them with your animated graphics? Show cute photos? List news events from 2 years ago? Show them the weather? Give long-winded history of your organization? I’m sorry to be so blunt, but my goal is to help. I’m here to tell you that you do have 15 seconds – use it wisely.
- Spend 90% of your time on your top 2 website goals. Really… write them down and every time you sit down to work on your website ask yourself if there’s a direct correlation.
- Spend 50% of your website efforts obtaining links to build awareness, traffic, and search rank. Make sure you have top of the line banners to provide other websites to link to you, as well as pre-written link text. Develop a variety of banners for various websites and make them easy to get on your site. Provide them with the needed HTML so that the webmaster on the other end has little work to do. As donors to link to you. All that matters is that you get them pointed at your domain name. Give them lots of kudos and encourage them to link. Big donors deserve their own web page or blog post if they want it. That same page can be linked from a “current donors” list. .
- Break down the content of your site into heading > summary > detail blocks. Your web pages should be skimmable, so break it down. Check out my article about writing skimmable web copy..
- Make sure your national organization provides a link to you..
- If your group is involved in events with lots of “Kodak Moments” then have a digital camera ready to capture them. Choose the best (only) and upload those to a dedicated Flickr account. Then set up one of the simple Flickr Flash slide shows on your website. It’s incredibly easy. TIP: Make a photo set called “Latest” that you refer to on your site – then you can shuffle pictures in-and-out of that “photo set” within Flickr. The website will show the latest ones automatically on the badge!.
- Be absolutely sure that the “Title” tag of your website matches the most common search people do to find you. If your non-profit is called “Kidspromise of Kentucky”, then you don’t want a title tag that says “Untitled Page” or “Home Page” — it should say “Kidspromise of Kentucky – Children’s Charity in KY” for example.
- Do not put dated material (e.g. news) unless you commit to updating it. If you cannot make such a commitment, keep your website date-independent. Stale news items causes people to worry the rest of the site is out-of-date..
- Never use a splash page (a page you must ‘get through’ before seeing your real home page.) Never waste your limited time on “flash animation” or other frivolous endeavors. For every minute spent on such a thing, you could have found several in-bound links or possibly improved your sites readability.
- If your entire site will be updated by one energetic person, consider using a blogging platform as the centerpiece of your entire website – and no, you don’t have to call it a blog. You can choose from dozens of free blogging templates. I recommend wordpress as your blogging environment, but have someone help you set it up on your own domain name. One inexpensive and quick way to set it up is to use bluehost.com as they host WordPress 2.0 out of the box. Other blogging environments are fine, too. Call it a website. It’s okay.. Just make absolutely sure you use your own domain name!
- In your printed material, give people a reason to visit your site. “We’re on the web” is not a reason. “You can donate on our site today – any amount will help a child.” is a reason. See illustration..
See the tips above….