From free stock images that will blow your mind, to no-fee video editing app. Here’s the 2019 list of free website tools for nonprofits.
Giving Tuesday 2019 (#GivingTuesday) is on December 3, 2019. So why give it any thought now when it’s not yet Spring? Simple. You now may have the time, before summer.
For a limited time only, Dot Org Web Works will provide your qualifying nonprofit organization with three months of our Quick Fix website maintenance/upkeep plan when you select DOWW to make-over your current website, or develop your first website!*
Google Has Marked All HTTP websites as “not secure” in their Chrome Browsers this Month
According to Google, staring in July 2018, in their next browser release (Chrome 68), a website that is not secure–does not have an SSL certificate integrated into it (thus producing the prefix “HTTPS” instead of the usual “HTTP”), will get a “not secure” message at the lead of the URL. In other words, they will be warning your website visitors that your website is not secure. That is, if you have not already taken the corrective measures.
The obvious main 2 questions on website owners’ mind are: “What’s HTTPS”? And, “My site does not collect user information or conducts financial transactions. Why should I care?”
HTTPS simply tells the user that your website is secured via an encryption that protects the channel between your website and their browser. It assures them that a middle entity can’t tamper with the traffic or spy on your activity. As The Verge interprets this: “Without that encryption, someone with access to your router or ISP could intercept information sent to websites or inject malware into otherwise legitimate pages.”
And you should care because with recent website privacy concerns spreading across the globe like virtual black plague (think: Facebook), people are a little timid these days. And for a default notice to appear on their browser that the nonprofit website they are visiting is “not secure” may give them pause to continue—especially to the online donations page, even though the form and entered data on that page is secured via the portal’s service provider. Basically, folks are a bit jittery and they need to feel reassured.
So, what does it take to make one’s website a “secured website”?
It’s rather easy these days to add an SSL certificate to your site. You just need to purchase one from your hosting service (some plans will provide it for free) and then have your webmaster configure it to your site. You can also choose to do it yourself. Just check out this step-by-step tutorial from wpbeginner.com.
There may be no better instrument for your fundraising tool box than the delivery of a good story. More specifically, a client story/profile: one that will both captivates the human drama that is the reason for your charitable nonprofit organization’s existence, and that will also showcase the giving opportunity. And then, afterwards, the results: the “product” of one’s investment into the organization. What’s more, such stories/profiles help your SEO.
Are you ready for #GivingTuesday 2018?
Giving Tuesday 2018 (#GivingTuesday) is on November 27, 2018. So why give it any thought now when June is just around the corner?
If your organization has participated in Giving Tuesday in the past, then indeed this call to action may be a bit early. But, if you haven’t participated in the past, now may be the best time to chart your path and get a jump on the competition.
First Step: Join
The good people at Giving Tuesday have made it easy for organizations to get registered and started. Simply go to https://www.givingtuesday.org/organizations and sign-up via their online form. (Note: you must be a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization to qualify for the Giving Tuesday program.)
Second Step: Set Goals and Timeline
- How much do you hope to raise?
- How will those funds be used?
- What might be the giver-experience? (E.g.: “You’ll feel proud to have helped dozen’s of hungry people have groceries in winter.”)
- The Giving Tuesday Tool Kit provides a handy timeline for you to adapt for your needs.
Third Step: Begin your Outreach
Just download GivingTuesday’s Tool Kit for ideas, messaging and media tips. Suggestions include:
- Setting creative call-to-actions for your supporters and community.
- That you promote early so that everyone who wishes to participate has adequate time to do so: on your website, your social network channels, place of worship, and even flyers for local business to pin up.
- Collaborate/network with other groups in your community.
- Send out press releases (a sample is provided).
- Email blast your supporters (a sample email is provided).
- Request a “Mayoral Proclamation” for GT.
Giving Tuesday 2018 also offers the following resources:
- How to Donate Unused Rewards Miles, Points [new!]
- 50 Day Campaign Timeline
- Social Media Kit
- Planned Giving Toolkit
- Press Release Kit
- Mayoral Proclamation Toolkit
About Giving Tuesday
Giving Tuesday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving Day (which is a U.S. holiday) as a sort of balance (or, perhaps, balm) to the manic (if not materialistic) “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” which precedes Giving Tuesday.
Right after Thanksgiving, and well before Christmas, is considered the best time of year for fundraising. It’s a small window actually, but with the power of Giving Tuesday, your donation opportunity will certainly rise. It’s just a great way of celebrating the true spirit of the Holidays: philanthropy through community.
2017 Numbers to Note:
- 150+ countries
- More than $300 million raised online
- More than 2.5 million online gifts
- $120.40 mean online gift
Learn more about Giving Tuesday by visiting: www.givingtuesday.org
Google announced on March 26, 2018, that after 18 months of planning and experimentation, the godfather of web searches will start migrating sites that follow best practices (best SEO configuration) to mobile-first indexing.
What had been, up to now, a practice of crawling and ranking content typically used in the desktop’s version of a website’s content, which sometimes caused issues since a mobile version of a page can be quite different, will instead focus on the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking.
Best practices for dynamic serving and separate URLs (short version)
If your site has separate desktop and mobile content, which means you have a dynamic serving or separate URLs (or m-dot) site, make sure you follow the best practices below to prepare for mobile-first indexing:
- Your mobile site should contain the same content as your desktop site. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop site, you should consider updating your mobile site so that its primary content is equivalent with your desktop site. This includes text, images (with alt-attributes), and videos – in the usual crawlable and indexable formats.
- Structured data should be present on both versions of your site. Make sure URLs in the structured data on the mobile versions are updated to the mobile URLs. If you use Data Highlighter to provide structured data, regularly check the Data Highlighter dashboard for extraction errors.
- Metadata should be present on both versions of the site. Make sure that titles and meta descriptions are equivalent across both versions of your site.
For more information on this, read the Google Press Release.
Unless you are completely new to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you know that there are some fundamental SEO applications that should be employed within your website. And as time goes by, more and more SEO tricks come into play. At a minimum, however, you will want to know and include the real essentials, such as:
- Know your keywords. Before doing anything, you’ll need to identify your major keywords/key phrases, and sync your site with Google.
- Strong ‘Meta Titles’. Make sure that your keywords are prioritized in the (SEO) title of your page/post. (It’s your primary branding opportunity for that page or post.)
- Strong ‘Meta Descriptions’. Here too you will want to maximize your keywords when you describe your page/post.
- Use the H1 header. Don’t forget to select the “h1” size for the (visible) header of your page/post.
- Use your keywords throughout each page. Judiciously re-used and populated your major keywords throughout the page/post.
However, as stated above, that is just the minimum you should be doing to optimize your search engine results. If you want to float closer to the top of the rankings, you’ll have to work your SEO opportunities a bit more (because, no doubt, the competition is).
At this point you might be thinking to yourself, “This sounds like a lot of work. And, besides, the experts hackers out there who work for larger organizations have a lock on it all.”
The answer is: not true.
Many of these applications are not all that hard to accomplish with a bit of effort. (But if you’re not up to it, we can certainly help.) Also, one of the more comforting aspects of SEO is knowing that, for lack of a better explanation, Google pretty much favors the little guy. They continuously monitor their listings for “black hat” programmers (scammers and tricksters) and are really looking out for honest, modest sized, websites. And… Google loves nonprofits! If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be giving qualifying nonprofits free AdWord accounts. And when all is said and done, good, organic, listings are really just a matter of knowing your brand and (honestly) promoting your site using your established keywords in as much original content as possible.
Now for some really great SEO tricks. (Okay, not really “tricks”. More like, “Important SEO applications.”)
- Make sure that your pages and post are branded to the content. Moreover, keep in mind that search engines reward “SMEs” (subject-matter experts), so that the more you blog with your own original content (not duplicated), the better the SEO reward. In other words, “content is still king”; do more of it! If you are blogging and are providing unique, necessary, content that is branded to your site, it is the nectar that attracts the birds. Here’s why: Search engines prioritize and place value on how many visitors are interested in your specific content, as well how often the visitors have shared (via a link) your content within their networks. And the longer a visitor visits a specific page of your website, the better it is: it demonstrates the value (if not quality) and search engines will take note of that. Consequently, however, when a person visits only for a few seconds and leaves (“bounce”) that does not work in your favor. Nor does copying someone else’s content and pasting it into your site. (Please see “Don’t-dos” at the bottom of this article.)
- Maximize linking opportunities (“link juice”). SEO likes pages with plenty of useful links. Whenever possible, also add “title” and “alt” tags to your images and hyperlinks. And, don’t be so pedestrian about your link label. For example: Instead of labeling a link that goes to your organization’s services as simply “services”, it should be something closer to your keyword/search term, like: “info on homeless health care services” (with title tags). More specifically, instead of your (HTML) link looking like this: <a href=”http://website.org/services/homeless-services/”> services</a>, it should read like this:
<a title=”information on homeless health care services” href=”http://website.org/services/homeless-services/”>info on homeless healthcare services</a>. Though maximizing your link juice may be cumbersome as Main Menu items, these kind of “anchor links” are valuable and can be used in the footer link or within the body of texts easily and effectively.
- Your permalinks should be reflective of keywords. If you have a post on, for example, where to get free socks in January, your page permalink should be: website.org/get-free-socks-january, and not: website.org/blog/archives/123.
- Inbound links are Awesome: Also called “backlinks”, these are other sites linking to your site. And the higher that website’s page ranking the better. (I.e.: NYTimes.com would be better than, Mikes-Tiny-Blog.com.) In other words, if a media outlet mentions your organization and, preferably, provides a link to your site, that is gold.
- Integrate Google Maps to your Contact Us page. Needless to say, Google loves it when you use their products. Simply add a Google Map to your site and get yet another SEO bump.
- Make Social Media showcase your brand. You should monitor your brand mentions within your Facebook page and other social media outlets. Positive comments and reviews are crucial. And, don’t forget to link your site to your own social media channels.
- Hook up with Google for Nonprofits, and get yourself a FREE Google AdWords account. Qualifying nonprofit organizations can receive $10,000 in AdWords, free Google Maps use, and much more via Google for Nonprofits.
As a bonus to the above important SEO “to-dos”, here are a few… “don’t-dos”.
- Article Sharing: Don’t copy and paste other website’s content, even with permission.
- Don’t buy a bunch of URLs and have them point to your one site.
- Don’t duplicate your website and try to pass it off as another.
- Don’t share an IP address (especially if it’s sharing with bad content).
- Don’t use Flash and/or other graphic text.
- Avoid deep page content because the crawlers like content closest to the surface of your website root. Example: home/helping/donations/online-giving/sustaining-members/gold-level.
- Too many links listed (saturating a page with links that are really redundant or pointing to superfluous content). Also, linking back from a child pages to a parent page when not really necessary is generally frowned upon.
- Irrelevant content or outbound links: if you are a domestic violence shelter for women, don’t have pages and/or links to automotive carburetor parts.
Certainly these techniques take time to implement, but do try to focus on some of the key ones. Alternatively, you can get on a website maintenance plan that may keep an eye out on your SEO opportunities.
Last year we added monthly service plans for website maintenance. These plans will help ensure that your website maintains updated and competitive. The client (designated contact person) gets a weekly “check in” call to see what’s new and should be shared with the viewers, posts are written and pages updated quickly, and the WordPress environment is checked over and updated as needed.
The rationale is this: when a budgeted amount of time per week/month is set aside for the development and upkeep of the website, performed by a website pro who has your back, then the client is more inclined to re-prioritize the website. (Because money has already been allocated, and they’re getting help.) From this, a more dynamic and utilized web presence is sure to follow quickly. (And, naturally, the organization’s staff is more freed-up for other important tasks.)
What’s more, the organization garners a special discounted rate! All within a monthly payment plan that will maintain the lower rate even when over the allotted time.
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 59.1% of all CMS sites are from WordPress (or an even more amazing figure of 28.1% of all websites within the worldwide web). Trailing far behind is Joomla with its market share of 6.9% of CMS, and Drupal with 4.7% 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.
The intelligent way to get your cause and services noticed is to use website design professionals who are also nonprofit professionals.