A Nonprofit’s Most Visible Asset

What is the most traditionally overlooked tool in a nonprofit’s toolbox? Its website.

Last month we talked about TOMS Shoes Inc.’s use of the Internet to create an international friendraising event called “One Day Without Shoes”. This month, we are highlighting the nonprofit Newspring Center for Social Entrepreneurship and Business Nurturing, for its effective use of website design.

west houston nonprofits marketing grant consulting.jpg

Before going any further, consider evaluating your own website. First, list all of your possible constituents, including: the general public, clients, current donors, board members, sponsoring organizations, and potential funders. Next, role play by interacting with your website in the same way that someone from each of these groups would. Keep in mind that a person who is already familiar with your nonprofit is more apt to take multiple steps to reach the desired information, than someone who is visiting your site for the first time. In other words, the primary goal of your Home page should be to tell your organization’s story – and what better way to do this, than with a video?

Although incorporating video messaging into a website is not new, a user typically has to hunt around to find it. On Newspring’s website, a link on the Home page takes you to their YouTube video. The viewer is engaged when they choose to watch the video and receive an audio and visual presentation about Newspring’s background, programs, and goals for the future. By stimulating an additional sense (hearing) the message is more likely to be received and remembered. This is also a great way for visitors to personally connect with your clients, by giving them an opportunity to hear about the impact that your organization has had upon their lives, in their own words.

Other important issues to consider when reviewing your nonprofit’s website:
1 – Is the Home page trying to serve all constituencies at once? Does it appear cluttered?
2 – Does the Home page fit on one screen, or does the viewer have to scroll to see it all?
3 – Can your nonprofit’s website be viewed on a Smart Phone?
4 – Is the content consistent with all other marketing collateral available to the public?
5 – Is it easy to navigate?
6 – Is it easy to make a donation?
7 – How is your organization driving traffic to its website?
8 – Are website visitor analytics being collected, and how are they being used?
9 – Is there currently video on your website and, if so, where is it located?
10- Is your website linked to sponsoring organizations’ websites and FaceBook pages?

Lastly, ask yourself: What percentage of the organization’s development time and resources are currently being dedicated to managing website content, and is it enough? Is website maintenance a line item in the operating budget? If not, should it be?

Don’t underestimate the power of this important tool in the development mix.
See you next month.

Richard Beeman