Julia Renn is a fabulous addition to the 2012 Technology Summit advisory committee bringing with her the design expertise that created the logo for the Technology Summit. Her unique perspective in marketing and design for nonprofits has contributed to pushing the event to a new level. Julia’s vivacious spirit adds a fun and creative energy to our powerful team. We are happy to include her post on the power websites have to push your nonprofit mission forward! Julia is the Founder of Design Sherpa and currently works for Intermundo Media.
I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to flex my creative muscles as part of the 2012 Technology Summit advisory committee. A graphic artist who relocated from Philadelphia to Boulder, CO to chase my dream of saving the world through good design, I am dedicated to producing creative, practical visual solutions for non-profits and small businesses. During my 5 years in the marketing industry, I’ve worked with many organizations of varying sizes and disciplines, including Habitat for Humanity, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Planned Parenthood.
As a web designer, I’ve encountered countless non-profit and small business employees who have suffered through negative website experiences. The world of the web is tricky terrain to navigate alone, and organizations with limited budgets and personnel can easily outstrip their resources if they don’t receive the proper guidance. Through my freelance endeavor, Design Sherpa, I strive to outfit non-profit and small business employees with the knowledge to navigate the design process.
Your website should function as a tool to help build new relationships and strengthen existing ones. Whether it is educating a new visitor, enabling current supporters to take action, or energizing your base, your website should work just as hard as anyone on your staff! Here are some pointers to keep in mind when reviewing options for your non-profit website.
1. Who are the groups you’re trying to reach?
Every non-profit has a core demographic that they were founded to serve, but their site also needs to appeal to other groups who are critical to their long-term operation: potential donors, volunteers, and the media.
Appeal to new visitors
Make sure your mission is front and center so that new visitors to the site can immediately learn what you are about, and why they should care.
Enable supporters to easily learn how to donate. Your website is a great tool for soliciting new donations, as well as enabling existing supporters to make additional donations. Keep the process simple and straightforward. The harder someone has to look to find the donate button, the less likely they are to fork over the cash.
Be Volunteer Friendly
Volunteer support is crucial to the operation of most non-profits. Recruiting volunteers can be costly and time-consuming. Using your website to make it easy for people to get involved cuts down on time your staff need to invest in volunteer recruitment. Whether you provide details about how to work directly with your organization, or simply suggest steps people can take independently to support your cause, make sure you empower them to take some sort of action.
You may not have had your 15 min of fame just yet, but media attention can come when you least expect it, and it is important to be ready. Making it easy for journalists to find information about your organization, such as your board of directors, founder, and key personnel ensures that if an opportunity arises for you to be in the spotlight, they won’t pass you over for an organization whose information was more readily accessible. Make sure you include contact information for key members of your staff. A downloadable media kit and high resolution images with photo credits are also a plus. The less the journalist has to wait to receive, the more likely they are to use your materials.
2. What do you do that they will find most interesting?
As members of our own organizations, we sometimes get caught up in the minutiae that consume our day-to-day involvement, rather than remembering the big ticket item that makes us really special. It is important to remember that what you find most interesting might not appeal to someone who is new to your organization. Make sure that your home page showcases the big picture, rather than spending too much time on the details.
3. What action would you like them to take?
Attracting lots of visitors to your website is great, but ultimately you want to inspire them to act. Make sure that each page has simple, easy to find calls to action. Enable visitors to donate, sign up for your newsletter, ask for more information, or sign up to volunteer. A great rule of thumb is to have two calls to action on each page.
4. How will you keep people coming back?
After you’ve attracted visitors to your site, you need to keep them coming back. Maintaining a blog and other social media (twitter, facebook, youtube, etc…) is a great way to share compelling news about your organization with your loyal followers. It keeps them coming back week after week, keeps your organization top of mind, and when it comes time for them to buy tickets, donate, or attend an event, they will be more likely to do so since they feel they have a relationship with you.
5. Who will do these things for you?
The web has become so much more accessible since I started working in the industry. Today, it is relatively simple to use services like WordPress to find a template and create a website that your staff can edit themselves. However, just because it is easy to do on your own does not mean that is the best route to take. Because non-profit organizations have such unique needs, and because they are so dependent on the allegiance of their followers for success, it is important that your website is working as hard as you are to recruit new supporters, garner donations, and keep people involved.
At the 2012 Technology Summit, professional tech experts will be on-hand to answer your questions, provide advice, and help you figure out a way forward. Join us for compelling discussions about How to Make the Most of my Website, and get an Introduction to Google Analytics. Visit exhibitor booths and learn about the resources on-hand to help you make sure your website is really working!blog comments powered by Disqus