The website of an organization is how many donors "meet" you and therefore it's just as important to make a great first impression online as it is in person. The essential challenges in online fundraising are getting a prospective donor to your donate page and also establishing who you are in a compelling fashion. To achieve both you need to remember these four essential principles and tips:
Strive for Clarity and Simplicity
- Have at least one "Donate Now" button on every page of your site (and avoid soft language such as "Help Us".) The "Donate Now" button should immediately take the user to the donation form, with no intermediate steps.
- Other musts for every page of your site include: identifying yourself and the organization, linking back to the home page and including a search function or box in the upper right hand corner.
- The more choices you give people the more anxiety it creates. Think of it like asking somebody out for a date. You don't suggest dinner or lunch or maybe a hike sometime in the next two weeks. Dinner at 7 on Friday. Be specific.
- People skim websites, so think of Web copy as a billboard advertisement. Users should be able to identify what your website is about in four seconds.
- Have a guessable web address.
- Every page of your site should include your postal mailing address (a street address, not a PO Box) and your phone number. Both lend a comforting aura of credibility and realness to your page.
- Don't come across as too "institutional". Show them that you're real, hardworking people, trying to accomplish important goals.
Show Your Passion
- Most giving decisions are emotionally based. Use compelling, inspiring and large imagery on your home page.
- Give thanks to recent donors or share donor stories. Seeing past donors as real people helps inspire prospective donors to give as well.
Experiment to Find What Works
- No two organizations are exactly the same, nor do they have the exact same target audiences. Keep in mind, though, that there are generally two audiences -- people who came to your website looking to make a donation and people who have heard of your website and are looking to be seduced and impressed.
- Do simple user testing while creating or updating your website.