Getting more from your digital development officer

These days, it’s the rare nonprofit that doesn’t have a website. For better or for worse (I’m referring to the quality of the sites I’ve visited), CEOs and boards have gotten the message — a web presence is a must.  However, too few organizations are making the most of the website’s development potential, and that’s a shame.

A well-constructed website can be a powerful member of your organization’s fundraising team.  Like a good development officer, your website should be out there, working for you, day in and day out.

To make sure that your website is living up to its full fundraising potential, consider the following pointers adapted from an article in Entrepreneur magazine. All it took for me to make the advice fit a fundraising scenario was to substitute asking for selling and donor for customer.

  • Define your goals. What action do you want visitors to take when they land on your site? I know your organization isn’t simply about raising money, but if a potential donor stops by to look, he or she should find a reason and a way to give.
  • Keep the content fresh. Unless  you are continually updating the website, augmenting static pages with interesting and fresh content, it becomes little more than a pdf brochure for your organization. In other words BORING, and few people give to that.
  • Communicate momentum. Your homepage should scream, “Good things are happening here. Come join us.” Include relevant calls to action on each page of your site. Most important, make it easy for would-be donors to give.
  • Encourage visitors to talk back. Incorporating a blog or other social content into your online presence is a great way to pull visitors into the mission and vision of the organization. It also provides an opportunity for you to hear what’s on the minds of the folks who’ve stopped by for a visit.
  • Make your site easy to find. Never mind if the bulk of your constituent base lives within a stone’s throw of your office. You never know who is googling you today, including a donor prospect from just around the corner.
  • Measure and track.  Most nonprofits are getting better at evaluating the productivity of their human staff? But what about the digital member of your fundraising team? Do you know how if you’re converting visitors into donors? Have you identified the paths they typically take? Do you know which pages perform best for you? Free tools like Google Analytics are a great place to start.

In today’s resource scarce environment, a website is a terrible thing to waste — at least that’s my opinion. What say you?

If you found this post helpful, you may want to (re)read “Speaking up for high touch in a high-tech world” and “Let’s put social media in its place.”

What's your take on this topic?

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