The design and development of a website intended to raise awareness can be a real challenge. Here we offer the key steps to an effective awarness campaign.
Giving Tuesday 2021 (#GivingTuesday) is on November 30, 2021. So now may be your best time to really prepare for Giving Tuesday… you know, before crunch time comes.
Traditionally, the holiday period is when many supporters decide on which charity to support and how much to give. (More than 30% of donations processed through Network for Good’s occurs in December alone.) Well before Thanksgiving, you’ll want to ramp up your fundraising program, starting with your website.
We offer these suggestions:
First, and foremost, can your website process online donations securely and quickly? If not, Network for Good, Qgiv, and AffiniPay are just a few prime examples of donation services that specialize in processing credit card donations to nonprofit organizations.
1. Showcase the Need
Create a new Post/article showcasing the issue at hand (e.g.: For the homeless, winter is most difficult; Family service needs increase during holidays; Affordable housing solutions for families year-round, etc.). This Post should be given priority placement on your Home page with a strong, inviting, title.
2. Highlight the Giving Opportunity
Provide the opportunity, a call to action (CTA), for your website visitor to give to your program (per the above examples). Throughout your CTA, broadcast your success with the funding amount raised to date, and how much further to go to reach its goal.
- You’ll want to make sure that, at the very least, your giving options page is responsive to mobile devices. About 25% of online donations are made through mobile devices.
- Brand (tailor) your giving page to that of the CTA with suggested amounts and with captivating images.
- Make the case! How will their donation be invested? (E.g: “A $50 donation will provide 2 medical exams for persons without health care options.”)
- Post a copy of the article and giving request in your Facebook and other social media avenues, and ask that people Share the content within their networks. (Replace your regular background image with that of the CTA’s.)
3. Add Donate Now to Facebook
Facebook recently added a “Donate Now” option to their call-to-action buttons. Take advantage of it.
4. E-letter Early and Timely
Send out your e-newsletter before the crunch (such as the first week of November and December). And remember, about half of all emails are now read on mobile devices. You’ll want your e-newsletter formatted to view well on these smaller screens.
5. Gifts for the Givers
Many businesses supportive of your organization will gladly provide gift certificates and other products for you to give out as donation incentives. These free dinners, movie tickets, music CDs and whatnot can induce a $10 giver to give $40 or more. Giving benefits are a great way of maximizing everyone’s participation.
6. The Final Push
Don’t forget the final push to give in the last week. Send out e-update on the CTA’s success, and that this may be their last opportunity to be a part of this solution for this giving cycle.
Where to Donate Your Stimulus Check
If you find that the $600 stimulus check isn’t needed, maybe turn it over to someone who really does.
In December, when former President Trump eventually signed the $900 billion Covid-19 relief package, I was first pleased and then (to be brutally honest) disgusted. At the expense of the staggering growing number of unemployed, what could have been a useful and much-needed additional assistance to them, instead deteriorated to a $600 offering to most every American who is not already doing very well economically.
The United States, and the world, have been in a pandemic for one year now; the economic devastation has been both relentless and immense. In December, new jobless claims rose to 900,000, which puts the total unemployed in the U.S. to about 12.6 million, which is the highest level since the Great Depression. In short, life is bleak for many of our loved ones, friends and neighbors.
Like most Americans, I should receive the so-called “stimulus” money sometime in January. The $600 amount will be appreciated for most people: it will allow them to buy food and some other immediate necessities–but not much else. For them, it is not a stimulus as it is a little something for now—to keep one’s head above water, like a tiny life preserver in the middle of the sea.
For others, the ones not yet in dire straits (such as myself), the $600 amount will be, ironically, a stimulus—disposable income.
If you are in the latter category, you might find that putting that $600 to real good use will be an attractive option. You can donate that amount to a struggling family or a charitable organization that will invest it into something life-sustaining.
Finding an organization that can put your stimulus to good work is easy. Here are a few suggestions:
- Google your preference, such as: “donate to homeless near me.”
- Visit Charity Navigator at: https://www.charitynavigator.org/.
- Ask a friend or family member if they know someone who is about to become evicted or who is otherwise in need of financial help.
On my shortlist of community organizations helping to lessen the impact of the financial crisis due to Covid-19, are:
- Rose Haven – A day shelter for women and children.
- Wallace Medical – Providing health services regardless of ability to pay.
- Rose Community Development – Offering long-term housing solutions to families.
- GRASP – Grief recovery for those who have lost loved ones to the opioid epidemic.
- Homeless Health Care L.A. – They are on the frontline of helping those on skid row get access to healthcare.
Google Ad Grants Just Got Easier to Set Up
Google’s Ad Grants program, which is part of Google for Nonprofits, has been helping tens-of-thousands of nonprofit organizations in more than 50 countries. And up until now, accessing the program could be a little bewildering—which is why I posted my first step-by-step guide “Nabbing Google Ad Grants” in 2017. Since that time, Google has refined its program and have made it easier to access,and a whole lot easier to set up your first ad campaign.
The first thing you will want to do is create a new, specific to your organization, Google account. (Do not use your personal account since you will want to keep a separation between you the person and the nonprofit organization you are representing.)
Then visit: https://www.google.com/nonprofits, scroll on down to near the bottom and begin the process within “Steps to get Google Products”.
Google requires that your organization be a nonprofit charitable organization meeting the full eligibility requirements in your country. For United States based organizations, this usually falls under 501(c)3 tax exempt status, but with the following exclusions: That your organization is:
- Not a governmental entity or organization
- Not a hospital or healthcare organization
- Not a school, academic institution, or university (Google for Educationoffers a separate program for schools)
Then request a Google for Nonprofits account, by going to: https://www.google.com/nonprofits/account/signup/us . Follow the instructions.
Once your nonprofit is verified, Google will inform you about accessing services such as Ad Grants.
Growing your fundraising with Ad Grants:
Ad Grants has made a tutorial on how to create your free Google Ads. Visit: Start the course.
Content Management Systems (CMS) has been the choice for website developers ever since they metamorphosed from its humble beginnings as Dr. Glen Barry’s “blog” in the 1990s, to the web platform that is now powering the vast majority of all websites on the Internet. Though there were many startup CMS choices just a few years ago, the field has narrowed to three main competitors: Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress.
Currently, WordPress is by far the dominant choice. An astounding 64% of all CMS sites are from WordPress (or an even more amazing figure of 38% of all websites within the worldwide web). Trailing far behind is Joomla with its market share of 3.9% of CMS, and Drupal with 2.6% of CMS.
WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have their key technical features in common:
- they’re open source content management systems,
- they all support the MySQL database, although Joomla and Drupal allow for support with other database systems,
- and, all of them use pre-developed themes and plugins (modules that extend features) to enhance functionality and showcase content.
Taking a closer look…
Installation and Use
WordPress is relatively easy to install. If you understand the basics of uploading files to a server and configuring the database (MySQL), then the process will take just a few minutes. (Although, WordPress comes with its “famous five minute install,” unless you are a professional or have prior experience, you better budget in a few more minutes.) Once you’re set up, you’ll be introduced to the Dashboard (control panel) where prime settings are adjusted, new Pages and Posts are made, and customization with the plugins are achieved. WordPress is quite intuitive—and, given its dominance in the market, very familiar to many website managers.
Joomla is also rather quick to install, but not as fast as WordPress. The control panel is a bit more complicated to navigate. Drupal’s installation is also fairly similar to WordPress and Joomla. Its post installation can be a bit complicated for beginners, and knowing how to make changes are not as intuitive. Overall though, they are all intuitive and should work fine for you once you’ve familiarized yourself with the chosen system.
Because of WordPress’ popularity, there are more free support options available. Plus, WordPress has a massive support community through various forums and through WordPress.org. Joomla and Drupal also have support communities, although not as vast.
Plugins and Themes Availability
Where the real benefit of WP is over the other two, aside from a larger market share and user base, is its access to more than 38,000 plugins, which are free within the WordPress.org plugin directory. These are, of course, in addition to the “premium” plugins available to WP systems for a nominal cost.
Joomla and Drupal also have many templates and plugins that work with their respective systems, but they are not nearly as plentiful and the quality tends not to be as high.
For many operators of CMS sites, security ranks near or at the top of concerns. All three provide for a respectable level of security, with quick remedies to counter hacks, and backup systems for when you need to re-install part or all of your website. Overall, there is no clear winner for the average CMS website in the security department. However, since WordPress is the bigger dog in the yard, hackers tend to focus on WP first. That said, all three CMS platforms have equally good response times and fixes for when security breaches are realized.
Two of the less talked about and more vulnerable aspects of a CMS framework, according to Randy Morris of Releventure, are plugins and themes. These prolific and popular elements provide a quick functionality fix, however oftentimes at the cost of security, as they usually have very few developers and not very frequent updates.
In general all three platforms have similar release cycles and robust communities. The key with each of these platforms will always be to follow proper security policies, maintain vigilant updating, use well-maintained monitoring and scanning services (such as Sucuri), have solid backups, and recover processes in place.
The overall winner then? Well, since all three CMS are reliable and have adequate access to themes, plugins, and support communities, and each resolves security issues; it comes down to what your specific needs are. But if those needs are sufficiently addressed in all three (which is likely), then it comes down to user friendliness. That said, since WordPress has the natural advantage of being the most popular CMS, with its very user-friendly control panel (Dashboard) and its far greater percentage of users (e.g., staff and volunteers who are familiar with the system), this, in our view, puts WordPress on top.
Sources: PC Tech Magazine, WP for Beginners, W3Techs, Sitepoint, Quora, Randy Morris.
This article was originally published on 17 June 2017
WordPress is the go-to content management system platform for your nonprofit organization. Its user-friendly interface will inspire you to develop your nonprofit marketing to its full potential.
Create a Nonprofit Website You Can Be Proud Of
If you have Googled “how to create a nonprofit website”, it probably means that you are hoping to create your first charity website on your own. Perhaps because you don’t think that your charitable nonprofit can afford a professionally-developed website or just good old fashioned curiosity has brought you to this resource. Whatever it was that got you here, welcome! No doubt, you care deeply about your charity’s mission. So, the least we can do here at Dot Org Web Works is to provide you with the broad strokes on how to create your first charity website—you know, so that you don’t make the mistakes many first-timers do. If there is one thing you should walk away from within this tutorial, it is this:
Your website is or should be the primary communication outlet for your charitable nonprofit organization. It is where people will learn about, become aware of, your cause or program; gauge how well it works, and assess if it is a good fit for them. It is your virtual, 24/7, open house event to what you do, who you do it for, and how.
Therefore, it is in your organization’s best interest to get your messaging right.
And with that said, let’s get started, shall we?
Understanding the Nonprofit/Charity “Market”
First and foremost, keep in mind that a charity (or other nonprofit) website is in many respects quite different than that of a commercial one.
Specifically, the commercial (for-profit) website generally targets and speaks to the buyer of the product—the one who is almost always (save for gift cards) the end-user of the product they are buying. So when one is creating a website for the commercial sector, she/he is communicating to one audience: the buyer/user.
But, that is not the case for the charity website developer.
The charity’s message, however, generally needs to speak to two audiences—sometimes split equally. One message is for the “product buyer” (the donor/funder to the product or service) and the other message is for the “user of the product” (the people in need of your charity’s product or service—often referred to as the client). And, this sort of split-branding can be a challenge.
From this point, it is important to gauge how much of your messaging will be shared between the two target audiences. (For specifics on this, please click here for Nonprofit vs. Profit Websites.)
The General Steps in Charity Website Development
Explain who you are and what you do, clearly.
Before you start selecting your website platform (e.g.: WordPress, Wix, Joomla), or even before you start collecting website content (articles, images, videos, stories, and other media), you will need to step back and consider your line of approach. Ask yourself:
- How do I wish for others to perceive our charity/nonprofit organization?
- To whom am I reaching out to?
- What should be the style/personality of the website?
In other words, you need to brand your website before doing anything else. Otherwise, you’ll lose sight of your website’s mission.
Although a branding session may contain a couple of dozen or more questions (this we do for all of our clients), the key questions would include:
- In as few words as possible, clearly explain what your charity does.
- What differentiates your service from your competition?
- What is the viewing priority? (Donors or clients?)
- What is your nonprofit organization’s vision?
- What are the demographics of the viewership?
- Are you hoping to increase this demographic or appeal to new ones?
Once the branding, either formal or informal, is at your ready, now it’s time to take off!—you should now be set to plan out (wireframe) your website.
Planning your Charity Website
The format for a charitable nonprofit website is not so different from that of a dynamic brochure, with the content sometimes gleaned from existing organization media. Once this initial phase is completed—that is, you’ve gathered the essential page documents, i.e.: About Us, Contact Us, Giving Options, Programs & Services, to name the most obvious—you will then be able to consider specific options. Do you want to stream your Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter accounts? Have featured articles (blog) and a calendar of events? Do you want subscriber/members-only sections? What about client profiles? There are many website options for the charity website, with several of them available for you to consider here.
Showcase the “Product” – Demonstrate Success
Few people will want to donate to your charity if you can’t show results. You need to somehow translate how their involvement will bring about a sROI (Social Return on Investment). This can be done in several ways:
- Images showing positive results. It can be simply people (animals or something else) benefiting from your charity.
- Client profiles. Showcase a success story with images and before and after history.
- Value. Impress upon your viewership how their donations will make an impact.
- Show your results and that you can be trusted via a financials page. And/or, if you are partnered with Network for Good or Charity Navigator, then provide a link to your charity rating.
Building Your Charitable Nonprofit Website
The last major hurdle is to actually build out your website. For those who are not artistically and technically inclined, and who do not have a working understanding of website platforms, this may be at the very least intimidating and time-consuming. Therefore, you will want to choose a very intuitive and user-friendly website platform.
We strongly recommend WordPress. It is the CMS (content management system) of choice for about 64% of all CMS websites (about 38% of all websites), and for a good reason. But you will also need to employ the use of a user-friendly pre-developed website “theme” or other similar website builder. (Please see our website builder page for a quick demonstration.)
Once you’ve got these tools in place, you should be ready to build out your site.
But wait…there’s more!
- You will want to make your website SEO (search engine optimization) friendly by employing the best keyword/search phrases for every page and post within your website. (More on SEO ranking here.)
- You will need to regularly maintain your website with periodic upkeep.
- You will need to keep your website relevant with fresh content and up-to-date information.
- Understand the difference between your charity organization and that of a for-profit business.
- Clearly explain who you are and what your charitable nonprofit does. And, why you are a better choice than “the competition”.
- Plan out your subject matter, content and user experience in advance.
- Showcase your product and demonstrate success.
- Develop good, logical, SEO keywords and titles.
- Develop fresh and relevant content frequently.
How Can We Help You Create Your Website?
Creating an effective charity website requires a skill-set like any other profession. This is what we do, and we would love to make a difference with you. With your intrinsic knowledge of your nonprofit organization and our experience at website development for charity organizations, together, we could build that website that you’ve envisioned—affordable and within a proper timeline. Let’s talk!
“Nonprofits provide vital services across the country and employ millions of Americans,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome H. Powell said. “We have listened carefully and adapted our approach so that we can best support them in carrying out their vital mission during this extraordinary time.”
For more than 20 years Dot Org Web Works has been serving the charitable nonprofit sector with customized, affordable, website design. Thank you, and looking forward to the next 20.
Dot Org Web Works, the intelligent way to get your cause and services noticed is to use website design professionals who are also nonprofit professionals.