The majority of Gen X and Millennial donors prefer websites and web-based resources when choosing which charity to support, according to researchers at Blackbaud.
Website performance, then, is tremendously important. As development professionals, our job is to use every tool in our toolkit to reach our development goals. Our websites should be a major component of this toolkit, channeling constituents into our donor funnel. Remember the 4 Stages of inbound marketing for donor development? We want to engage visitors and turn them into donors and advocates. (Keep an eye out for future blog posts on this topic.)
Before we even think about what to create to attract visitors and constituents to our site, we need to make sure our site is ready to receive them once they arrive at its homepage. Here are four themes to turn your website into a donor magnet:
1 - Wage war on clutter!
So many websites out there look like the menu at your local family buffet: too many options (the spread) vying for limited space (your stomach). You can't decide what to eat, and in the end, you end up with a stomachache. The same goes for websites! Too much information at once is content overload.
Don't try to accomplish everything in one page. Functionally, it takes constituents more time to get to the information they want — and in today's fast-paced, quick-response environment, they want to get their desired content ASAP. Furthermore, constituents want content that relates to them, and they shouldn't have to sift through impersonal, irrelevant information to find it.
Finally, a cluttered site is not as simple to design and maintain. Some of the sites I looked at had 100+ pages, with many presenting redundant information. One key to successful SEO and SER (search engine ranking) is to update content often to stay fresh and relevant.
2 - Jump on the bandwagon.
The most successful sites for donor marketing employ flat, streamlined designs. Let’s face it: your site plays an important role in a constituent’s decision to choose your organization over another. A simple, streamlined website is content-centric and provides constituents with easy access to desired materials and information without having to shuffle through unrelated material.
A simple design is much easier to design and maintain, uses less assets (and thus less storage), and more easily utilizes responsive design techniques. In today’s world, responsive design is a must! If you aren’t using responsive design, stop reading and read our earlier article on why you need it.
3 - Websites are evolving.
Web technologies and design trends have changed dramatically over the past 6-8 years. These days, websites are less of a one-size-fits-all brochure and more of an information resource. Constituents want to get to their information quickly, traveling from Point A (homepage) to Point B (resource) without going through unrelated content. Again, it is helpful to think of your site as a funnel, specific to each individual's experience.
Meanwhile, time spent on individual websites is declining. In fact, the average visitor spends less than 15 seconds on a site page. That means you have 15 seconds both to get their attention and give them the information they want. A streamlined and simple site doesn’t distract them with unnecessary information, and helps to accomplish this more quickly.
4 - Keep it fresh.
Google (in its search engine-dominating style) recommends that organizations update content regularly, and their web crawlers are constantly seeking new updates. Creating fresh content with relevant keywords will help your SEO ranking. Just like a new car driven off the lot, content begins aging as soon as it's published.
Updated content communicates that your nonprofit is an active and evolving organization, which is attractive to constituents evaluating your culture and mission. It also gives them a reason to come back to your site, share it with friends, and dive deeper into your content (and hopefully, that application).
In conclusion: the research suggests attention spans are dwindling, so an organziation must hook a visitor immediately. This has driven the trend towards simple and streamlined websites that focus on pertinent, engaging, and attractive information as opposed to distracting, overwhelming, and outdated content.
Give your website the help that it needs. At Direct Development, we are professionals at working with websites that struggle with the "website-buffet" phenomenon. We firmly believe that no website is too far gone. Does your website or a website you know need professional help? Direct Development is always a click away!