Optimize Your Homepage to Boost Donor Acquisition and Online Giving
Is your website designed to boost donor acquisition and online giving? According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are over 1.5 million registered nonprofit organizations in the US alone. This means that over 1.5 million organizations rely on donations in order to stay afloat. It also means that a single donor is exposed to at least a few charitable organizations. Am not just talking about the multi-million dolor organizations that have huge budgets for media advertisement. Am talking about the small organizations usually, run by a single person who might be a friend or relative.
We all know that humans are social beings and that we love to socialize. Unfortunately socializing in the 21st century has moved from the physical to online. This is evident by the mushrooming and the boom in the social media business. That means that more and more people are finding their connections online.
What does this mean for your organization?
If your organization is to stay afloat, you’ll need to have a very strong web presence. It is no longer acceptable for nonprofit organizations to have poorly designed websites.
A few years ago, a friend of mine asked me to help him design a website for his nonprofit organization. Before I started working on the site, he told me that he only had one request. The request was that he didn’t want the website to look expensive. He wanted a very simple layout with some very low res images someone had sent him. I asked him why, and he told me that if the website looked expensive and well designed, people would think he had a lot of money and would probably not donate to his cause. Although I was shocked, the truth is that he was correct.
Well, that was then, times are changing. People want to find the information they need in order to trust you and also make the decision to support you. As stated above most people that decide to support you may never ever meet you in person. Therefore, your website is the closest they’ll get to you and learn about your organization. Your website should not only be designed to represent you but to convert visitors into donors.
If you’re to boost your donor acquisition and online giving, you have to treat your organization like a for-profit organization. That means you have to market your value so that people can buy into your cause and mission.
Remember that you have so many organizations competing for the same donors and so your online office should be designed in a way that boosts the chances of your visitors to become donors.
In this article, I am going to show you how to optimize and design a home page that will boost your donor acquisition and online giving.
Did you know that you only have about 10 seconds to capture your website visitor’s attention? Actually, research shows that about 55% of the visitors spend less than 15 seconds on a website.
I think it’s safe to say that the people who spend less than 15 seconds on your website are first-time visitors. When someone is invested in your cause, they most likely spend some time reading and catching up on latest news and developments.
Our goal here is to make sure that the website does one of the following:
- Increase the time a visitor spends on the website
- If a visitor spends less than 15 seconds, we want them to know what the website is about.
- We want to leave an impression on the visitors so they can return
- We want visitors to take action
To optimize your home page, we’re going to take it block by block.
The Top Section
This is a top section of the American Redcross website.
The first section a visitor sees when they come to your website contains the menu and the hero section. I call this top section “the Value Proposition”. What is the value of your organization?
In order to answer this question effectively, it’s important to know that all elements found in this section should support your value. So let’s take a look at some of the elements in this section.
Many beginners and small nonprofit organizations ignore the importance of branding. Many think that just having a name or a simple logo is enough. Branding is much more than just a name and logo. It is a set of design rules on which your identity is based. It includes colors, fonts, logo and other design elements that make up your identity.
In order for you to understand why branding is important to donor acquisition, I first would like you to take a look at the Acquisition Report in your Google Analytics Reports.
In the report above, you’ll see that social media accounts for 12.9% of traffic. This means that people see your posts on social media and they want to find out more about you or your organization.
If the branding on your social media and your website is not the same, most people will quickly bounce. In other words, your website should be a continuation of your social media. People should feel familiar with your website when they come from a social media source.
Your brand is the first thing people see when they come to your website. It is your identity therefore, it’s very important that you spend enough time making sure that your brand represents your mission and goals. You also want to make sure that you have consistency across all print and digital media.
Designing a brand can be time-consuming and expensive but we’ve found some places where you can get your branding done quickly and fairly cheap. Please check out 99Designs.
The Hero Section
The hero section is probably the most important section of your homepage. Depending on the size of screen someone is using, the hero section can sometimes cover the entire screen. So if an average visitor spends only 15 seconds on your site, it means they spend much of that time looking at the hero section. You want this section to be warm and welcoming. It should have just enough compelling information that makes someone either take action or scroll down to read more about your organization.
The hero section should have the following:
The headline and the image should work in unison. Earlier we talked about visitors coming from social media. You have to make sure that the headline always matches what was clicked. For example, if your post on social media was about providing water to the needy, your headline should be about providing water to the needy as well. They don’t have to be the same but should be on the same topic. Having a different headline will confuse the reader and may cause them to bounce.
A subheading should always expand on the heading. It only gives the reader extra information about the headline.
A compelling Image or Video –
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. Make sure that your image or video is compelling and supports your headline and your cause.
A call to action
What do you want people to do? Do you want them to donate? or signup so you can send them some information? Whatever your goal is, make sure that you make it clear. A paragraph to explain the purpose of the forms is very appropriate.
The top section is the most important section on your website and should have the value proposition. If a visitor spends 10 seconds on your website, you want to make sure they know the value of your organization because they might just come back and become donors.
Social Proof Section
This image was taken from firelight foundation
So, you’ve presented the value of your organization and a visitor wants to learn more. The next important section you want to present is proof that you’re doing what you say you are doing.
Are you credible if yes then show me?
The most appropriate elements to add to this section would be testimonials to show the impact of your work. This should be simple, clear and genuine. You don’t want photo ops in this section. Anyone can pose for a photo.
The Benefits Section
What is the benefit of supporting you and your organization?
In this section, you want to draw your reader’s attention to the impact of your work. Let’s say you provide water to the needy. This section is not about what and how you provide water but about what happens when you do.
You want to present these benefits in bullet points and straight to the point. Remember that this is a home page and you can link to another page with extended explanations and information. So be simple and brief.
Our Services Section
In this section, you can now let your readers know what you do and how you do it. This section is about you and your organization. Again be brief as you may have a dedicated about us page.
The aim of this section is to earn your reader’s trust. You have to show that you’re dedicated to your cause. This would be a great place for you to add some download links to your past annual reports. People love it when you’re transparent about your organization.
Call to Action
This is like an appeal. What do you want your readers to do? What action do you want them to take? You want to make sure that you tell them what you want. You don’t want to leave them wondering what next. Your job is to guide them into becoming donors.
It is very important to make sure that your homepage is designed to convert. Since your website is your online office and probably the main way people learn about you and your missions, it is vital that you the information on the front page reflects the journey you want your audience to take. What kind of information do you want your audience to learn about you? what kind of call to action do you want them to take?
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