Using the Web More Strategically
"Every nonprofit should have a Web site that actually furthers its mission — not just describes it," was the phrase that began the free webinar "e-Strategy for Your Nonprofit" hosted by CharityFinders, a firm that offers workshops on Internet strategy, consulting services and custom Web development.
And presenter Vane Warner, customer support director and sales rep for CharityFinders, focused on tips to move organizations closer to achieving that.
According to Warner, the four key attributes of an effective Web site are:
1. Look and feel. An organization's site should be attractive, professional, modern and well branded. The look and feel should be consistent across the site.
2. Navigation. Should be simple and intuitive, and enable users to get from any page to any other page with one click.
3. Content (text and images). An organization's homepage should be dynamic, with a brief description and calls to action. In terms of content, the site also should include the organization's mission statement; services and programs; goals; a “what's new” section; accomplishments; brief history; issues and causes; a message from the executive director; press releases; past events; urgent action alerts; testimonials; a photo album; endorsements and awards; a donor hall of fame; a privacy and security policy; annual report; 990 forms; a list of staff and board members and their bios; a FAQ section, a "help" section; and a "contact us" page.
Individual Web pages should include elements such as pictures; graphics; animation; and video; as well as audio, when available.
To determine what should be on your site, Warner recommended identifying what types of people will be visiting your Web site and determining, for each type of visitor, what they would want to see and do there.
4. Functionality (financial and non-financial). Financial transactions that should be able to be made on your site include monetary and in-kind donations, membership, purchases from an online store, auctions, "thons," events, investment donations, and planned-giving options.
Non-financial transactions include e-mail list signup; volunteer and employment opportunities; e-newsletter signup; e-advocacy; petitions; e-cards; forms; polls; referrals; feedback; and Web 2.0 tools like discussion/message boards, chat rooms, a LISTSERV, podcasts and a blog.
Web sites should be designed with three key factors in mind:
A. Findability (users). To make your site findable, employ search engine optimization and search engine marketing efforts.
B. Maintainability (staff). Anyone in your organization (with no training) should be able to build and maintain a world-class, e-philanthropy Web site — quickly, Warner said.
C. Reporting (staff). You should be able to cultivate data from your site activity on Web site traffic (e.g., how many people visited your site; when they visited; how they found your site (search engines, and, if so, which ones, or links from other sites); which pages on your site they visited; how long they spent on your site; and the transactions made via your site — for example, those who donated $100 or more last year but nothing this year.