November 17, 2015

How to Get More Donors With Your Nonprofit Website

This article was originally published on Karvel Digital’s Blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

Donation jar

Dear nonprofits of the world: Is your website helping you increase donations to your cause?

Many nonprofits often find themselves in a catch–22. You need a better website, but you don’t have the budget to improve it. And you’re not raising as much money as you could be because you need a better website.

Breaking Out of the Cycle

First thing’s first: If your site is truly terrible–like 1999 Flash-based, blinking gifs terrible–find a way to smack some lipstick on that pig ASAP.

I give a lot of strategies for getting a good website on a budget in a previous article. There are also a lot of great resources through NTEN. If you can at least build a better front door, that will help implement part two of our plan.

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

As a mission-driven nonprofit, you are in a great position to build relationships with people of like-minded values, but you’re probably under-utilizing your website as a tool for building those relationships.

Web visitors are fleeting by nature. They pop in, they stay for a few seconds and then they, quite literally, bounce. If you want the opportunity to build a relationship, create new fans, and get them back to your site, you need to use that precious time together to ask if you can keep in touch.[1]

Yup, you guessed it, you want to get that precious email address. And news flash, “Sign up for our Newsletter,” is just not going to cut it anymore as an opening line. You might get a few subscribers that way, but you’ll get so many more if you sweeten the pot.

The Ethical Bribe

Yes, you read that right. What do you have that is valuable to your potential new friends, fans, and donors? Is your site the go-to hub for information in your niche? Why not package up some of the most often requested or searched information into a handy PDF download?

Do you have a proven process for hosting the best fundraising party ever? Put together a fundraiser guide and give people a shortcut.

When you offer people something valuable and ask directly to communicate with them, your subscriber base will grow faster.

Building the Relationship

Now that you have subscribers, what should you do with them? Let’s look at the following formula:

Relationships = Interactions over time
Relationships = Interactions / Time

If you want to build a relationship with your subscribers, you should be interacting with them regularly. Offer relevant, quality content that is informative, inspirational, and useful. In addition to talking about all the great work your organization is doing, remind them why your work is important and occasionally, ask questions about how you can better serve your audience.

If you do this, you’ll create a bigger audience, more devoted fans and, yes, more donations when the time comes.

Ask

That means occasionally you will need to actually ask for support. Back to that crappy website–why not have a flash fundraiser to have it professionally rebuilt? People love to help an underdog, and having a specific goal makes your cause that much more attractive.

Find your rallying cry and share your story with a series of emails over a couple of weeks and a link to your donation page. Share how the solution will help your donors as well as the organization and the population you serve.

The best thing about this strategy is that the worst that could happen is…nothing. But at best you’ll end up with a bigger audience, more fans, and more money to do great work.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Kronda Adair
I'm a native Oregonian with most of the cliches that are implied with that (bikes, outdoors, coffee, but not beer). I have a lovely wife, and two terribly spoiled cats who have their own Twitter account. Nonprofits I have worked for include Basic Rights Oregon and In Other Words (You might know it as Women for Women First if you're a Portlandia fan). I changed careers and went into technology and I'm now an independent WordPress developer and consultant. I work with small- to mid-sized businesses and enjoy educating my clients about how to use technology to further their organizational goals. I hope to be a resource for folks here and you can find lots of helpful articles on my primary website.