Since you’re updating your website…

by Jini Stolk

How do I know that many of you are updating your websites? Because two people in the past week, and two people in most other past weeks, have mentioned that that’s what they’re up to.

Everyone’s website is in regular need of revision and updating. It’s a little like home renovations: a constant cycle of repair and maintenance, until every so often you get aggravated and decide to tear things down, move things around, and totally refresh the look.

Websites, of course, are not just about looks, although looks count. They are one of your major connections to the world outside your organization – and crucially, they are one of the most important connections to current or prospective donors (60% of whom report looking first at a charity’s website before making a gift.)

If you’re wondering if it’s time for a grand renovation, this is a good overview of how to analyze how your website is currently working. It talks about architecture, usability, fresh materials, content as story, staying mission-oriented, and being CMS-savvy.

Maybe you’d prefer another analogy? This piece compares caring for your website to taking care of a pet. It needs care, attention, and needs to be fed with lots of juicy content that only you can provide. Yum. Updating the website should be a whole-organization project, with everyone having the opportunity to make sure your new website, your public face, represents what you do in the most compelling and authentic way possible.

If you’re the type who likes the idea of blasting through the needless time restrictions of New Year’s resolutions, here are some helpful resolutions you could begin implementing now: go on a website diet by removing dull or outdated content; make an annual content calendar; and make better use of Google Analytics and Google Analytics Goals.

Dunham and Company’s Online Fundraising Scorecard helps you answer the question “is my website optimized for fundraising?” (hint, according to them the answer is always no – it can be made better, and the best way to do that is by continual testing and analysis).Their methodology in doing the scorecard was simple (it’s the one I use!): Sign up. See what happens. Make a gift. See what happens.

I hate to have to say that performing arts organizations were in the bottom five “verticals” (sector classifications.) It seems we don’t make it obvious enough that we want people to donate, or easy enough for people to do so.

The Scorecard is adamant that good online fundraising rests on a very firm basis of excellent email capture and communications. You must make people click, and there are ways to compose and present your email requests to make that happen.

Once someone does click onto your website, however, you’re still not home free. Too many website giving pages require too many clicks. Too many steps. Too many fields. One of the main reasons donors prefer online giving is because of its convenience. Dunham and Company’s research suggests that nonprofits are placing too many barriers between online donors and the giving experience.

Finally, what’s the deal with refusing to divulge email addresses on your site? I could see if your company were being run by Beyoncé or Kevin Spacey that you might want to limit direct access. But does it actually make sense to make it difficult for colleagues, artists, donors or audience members to email your artistic or managing director? Aren’t there better ways for them to manage their inboxes?

Anyway, this (unfortunately relatively frequent) practice makes me mad…I wonder if I’m the only one.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Jini,
    Love your newsletters and your writing style. Didn’t get round to saying that earlier.
    Absolutely agree with your getting mad at refusing to divulge email addresses. It just doesn’t make sense. And if one were Kevin Spacey or Beyoncé it’s still good to have an email address. After all they would have staff to manage it:) It’s the people/ fan base that puts you up there, and keeps you there, so if you are not accessible to them, then what’s the point?!

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