New ePhilanthropy Resources From Around the Web

Do you take the time to analyze how long visitors stay on your web site, and what paths they take?.  Try these 14 free tools to find out why they leave.  Crazy Egg  is especially worth looking at, even though it now has a small monthly cost.  

Many nonprofits are still unsure about how to approach social media.  Wild Apricot’s blog offers encouragement in how to create a social media policy

Want some real statistics in how nonprofits are faring during these rough economic times.  Review Target Analytics Index of National Fundraising Performance as well as The Agitator’s quick review of its findings.  Why do you think animal welfare and environmental organizations are doing better than others?

Steve MacLaughlin offers an interesting look at 2008 Online Giving Trends,  including more reasons to use a multi-channel fundraising approach.

Need more reasons to pursue or enhance an online fundraising policy at your nonprofit?  Robert Weiner has many great resources to support your case.

Finally, Jeff Patrick at Common Knowledge offers an analysis of Mission Inspired Gifts, a combination of fundraising and ecommerce which may be worth trying at your organization.  In a webinar earlier this week, Jeff explained how the messaging is critical in telling donors exactly how their funds will be used.

Getting Started with ePhilanthropy Webinar – Wed, Jan. 21 at 7 PM EST

Thanks to Allan Pressel of CharityFinders and Cristine Cronin of NY Charities for joining me at this week’s event at the NYC Foundation Center, Online Fundraising Strategies for Tough Times.  Over 120 attendees joined us for a two hour session on how to help our nonprofit organizations prosper, even in this difficult economic climate.  Thanks also to Charlotte Dion of the Foundation Center for hosting the event and allowing me to present.  If you could not attend, please view my slides, Ten ePhilanthropy Tips for Tough Times

As a follow up, I’d like to offer an one hour webinar, Getting Started with ePhilanthropy on Wed, Jan. 21, 2009 at 7 PM EST.  This will be the first of what I hope to be monthly online classes on how you can use online strategies at your small or medium sized nonprofit organization.  This month’s session will focus on inexpensive and easy ways you can improve your web site, utilize email marketing techniques and promote multichannel strategies.  Best of all, you can attend from any place where you have a phone and an Internet connected computer.  Register Now.

6 Common Website Mistakes

Since learning about search engine optimization (SEO) techniques at my first nonprofit job, I’ve long been a fan of Jill Whalen and her site High Rankings.  Below are her tips for what not to do on your web site which appeared this week on SearchEngineLand:

1. JavaScript or other crawler-unfriendly navigation that may impede indexing.

2. Navigation that buries important pages within the site architecture. The deeper that pages are buried within the website, the less importance they are given (and the less likely that visitors will find them).

3. Same content appears under multiple URLs, often caused by content management systems.

4. No keyword phrase focus in the content or conversely, keyword phrase stuffing. Keyword phrases must be used within the content and must be different for each web page.  You can’t use the same phrases all through your site.

5. Only optimizing the home page for search engines, but not paying attention to interior pages.  When your site visitors find your site through search engines, many won’t enter through the home page.

6. Additional domains owned by the company are not properly redirected.  Jill suggests using 301 redirects to the main web site.

My additional tip: if you’re planning a web site redesign, make sure you pay attention to SEO during the process not as an after thought after the new design has been rolled out.

Making the Most of your Web Site

This week, the Foundation Center’s column, The Sustainable Nonprofit featured this targeted article on Spending Your Web Site Dollars Wisely.  Major points:

  • Delegating responsibility to the lowest level staff member or volunteer is foolhardy.  In a world where many will visit your web site as the first step in learning more about your organization, the web site must be professional and kept current.  It should not be primarily maintained by Information Technology, except for the back end responsibility of keeping it online
  • When to use a content management system (CMS) – “the more content you have and the more you plan to change or update it, the more you’ll need (and want) such a system”
  • Use professionals to create copy and images.  Hire a professional designer (if you don’t already have one on staff) so that your site is more about marketing than about information technology
  • Design your site for the visitors’ perspective, not your organization’s
  • Take the time to examine other web sites and to create a site map.  Think about what your constituents are most likely to look for and how can find it easily.

At my current organization, I’ve recently been instructed to review all of our web sites, and fix what’s wrong and make sure the information is correct.  Yes of course, but this should be the responsibility of everyone, not any one individual or department. (sigh!)

Wishing everyone a healthy and peaceful holiday season.

Nonprofit Marketing Tips

Attended an Nten Webinar this week on Marketing for Non-Profits, led by Robert Rose of CrownPeak Technology, providers of content management software.

Highlights from the presentation:

  • While it is not a good idea to have a lot of ‘private content’ available only to members or subscribers, it is wise to provide premium content in exchange for site visitors providing their email address and other personal information.  Many constituents will ‘register’ in exchange for a useful study or informative enewsletter
  • If you’re going to use web 2.0 tools such as blogs and podcasts, you have to commit to a regular update schedule.  Building an audience requires quality content and takes time to build.
  • Use a variety of tactics to engage constituents;  I find, for example, that while it’s convenient to get RSS updates, I open my email daily but don’t open my RSS readers as frequently.  In addition, subscribers can signup for RSS feeds without providing any information while email newsletters require, at a minimum, email address.
  • It’s more important to analyze who is visiting your web site than how many.

I asked Robert whether it’s still a practical goal to create custom web content for segments of your audience, as I’ve heard many vendors preach.  The reality – it’s usually enough of a challenge for a nonprofit to keep its content up to date for everyone than to develop targeted content for specific groups.  There are some good reasons to integrate CMS with your CRM database (e.g. so subscribers can access their past donation history online and print receipts) but the ability to customize web content isn’t one of them.

Robert also suggested that it is rarely necessary to build custom software, no matter how ‘specific’ your requirements may seem.  I agree. With so many strong CMS packages available, I don’t think there’s any excuse for any nonprofit not to have an updated web site as the foundation of its communications strategy.

Take a Fresh Look at your Web Site

An interesting blog post highlights the value of getting feedback on your nonprofit web site from those who are not already familiar with it.  It is convenient to poll co-workers but in addition to already being familiar with the site design and content, they will have a specific bias depending on their role in the organization.  By having someone new take a fresh look, you may learn that your site navigation doesn’t work as well as you thought.

Generally site visitors will spend a very brief time on our web sites.  If they don’t quickly find what they are looking for, they will go elsewhere.  We may think that our site is easy to use, but it’s important to find out whether new visitors feel the same.  Does the web site quickly describe your organization’s mission?  Is it obvious how to make a donation or to participate in your programs and events?  Inquiries to your ‘info’ account will also offer clues to what parts of your site may need improvement, as well as search terms listed in web logs.