Put Your Web Site to Work
Nonprofit organizations are facing more competition for support every day. Many are turning to the Internet to better differentiate their organizations, increase fundraising and operate more efficiently. By leveraging their Web sites, organizations will have the opportunity to build stronger relationships with their constituent communities — including donors, members, volunteers and employees — to support their missions today and in the future.
Your Web site is an extension of your organization, so it should convey the same professional image and level of attention that you give supporters in person. It’s one of the most important tools you can use to help build and foster strong constituent relationships. If potential supporters don’t feel involved with your organization when they visit your site, there’s an opportunity for your competition — whose Web site delivers those qualities — to gain their support, donations and loyalty.
There’s no such thing as an “online donor” or “offline donor.” Your constituents interact with your organization in a number of different ways, and each person expects to receive personalized attention that conveys your understanding of why he or she values your organization. By providing a personalized online experience for your supporters, you’ll keep them engaged and connected.
More and more, constituents are seeking ways to share information, interact with each other, stay current on news and register for upcoming events. The Web offers solid opportunities for nonprofits to build communities among donors, members, volunteers, students, parents and more. Your organization can grow a strong online community by offering constituents targeted Web content based on their history and preferences.
Your Web site offers a convenient way for stakeholders to communicate with each other and with your organization. By building and establishing an online community, you make it easier to stay connected with your supporters, interact with them more frequently, generate opportunities to ask for donations and reduce fundraising costs. An effective Web site also can help streamline your processes with self-service features for your supporters, such as profile updates, online event registration and donations, and sponsorships, giving them the power and convenience to help themselves at any time.
Not only can communicating online save time and expenses, but it often provides superior returns, because donors are more likely to respond to appeals when approached at a time and place convenient for them.
Imagine the benefits of this scenario:
- Your organization creates personalized, targeted “teaser” e-mails and e-newsletters to direct supporters, prospects and the community to your Web site. Once you hit send, your site goes to work:
- A previous donor, Jane Smith, receives an e-mail, logs on to your site, and immediately sees content, events, updates and appeals unique to her own interests.
- Your CRM database integrates with your Web site and shows appropriate giving levels based on her past giving history. Jane makes a gift, updates her contact information and registers for your annual walk-a-thon in real time, saving your staff time on administrative tasks.
- She creates a personal page on your site to communicate with other members, urging her friends and family to support her in your upcoming walk-a-thon.
- Through integrated advocacy, she rallies support to contact media and the government for the issues that affect your mission.
- Jane’s friends, family and co-workers visit your Web site, make donations and register to be included in future e-mails and e-newsletters.
- These new visitors can sign up for memberships online and can log in for access to exclusive content, Web pages and features for each membership level. They’re empowered with the ability to communicate through your Web site, using interactive features such as document sharing, Web blogs and message boards.
If Jane visited your organization’s Web site today, would the story go this way?
Are you doing all you can to create an interactive, personalized experience for your Web site visitors? If your Web site is simply a billboard for your organization, you could be letting valuable support slip through the cracks.
Charlie Cumbaa is vice president of products and services for Blackbaud.