5 Key Elements for Successful Fundraising Websites

I was thinking this morning of the adage, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I was wondering what that might mean today when more and more first impressions are made on a screen.

Digital adoption is remarkable. More than half of the world’s 7.8 billion people are consistently online. Two-thirds of us are mobile users. The smartphone IS internet access for many.

Ever noticed that we call people on a website “visitors” but people consuming a print package “readers”? I think that’s a valid distinction.

Visitor = Casual, non-committal, waiting to be impressed

Reader = Thoughtful, attached, already bought in

So what’s a fundraiser to do with these visitors? How do we build trust and provide a compelling experience online?

I have a few ideas.

Successful Websites Do These Things

1. Use intuitive and simple navigation.

Streamlined navigation ensures that your visitors can find their way. Use short, descriptive terms that your visitor can understand (“Easy Gifts” is good; “Bequests” are bad). Ensure that donors can anticipate what will happen when they click.

Importantly, avoid too many choices. But do give website visitors things they’ve come to expect, such as quick forms and a link to your site map in your footer.

2. Make it mobile-first.

It’s easy to figure out if your site is mobile-friendly or not. Visit it on your smartphone. Is your site easy to navigate, read and click through? If not, you’ve got work to do.

Responsive design takes your website and reconfigures it based on the device the visitor is using; adaptive design selects from multiple desktop and mobile website layouts and, in an instant, delivers the most appropriate view.

3. Post high-quality and credible content.

Just this month Google put the world on notice that it’s cracking down on unoriginal, low-quality content created to game search engine rankings. They’re going to reward high-quality content created “by people, for people.”

What does that mean for fundraisers? More stories. More testimonials. More educational content for different stages of the donor’s decision-making.

4. Offer tools that activate the content.

Website visitors expect to do more than read your website; they expect to interact with your content. How? Post videos. Offer compelling tools with forms that can be filled out digitally. Connect them to their financial services, like their donor advised fund or retirement accounts.

5. Use clear calls to action.

According to Hick’s Law, giving someone too many choices will increase the time it takes for them to make a decision and potentially lead to frustration. This shows up online in shopping cart abandonment or exiting a form. Give your visitor the essentials and keep everything else out. Make your CTAs easy to find and clear.

Bonus Tip:

Most websites aren’t found by casual web surfers. Websites are destinations. You need drivers to get them there. Plan on emails, social media posts, print QR codes and cross-linking from other sites to get eyes on your URL.

Your Best-Performing Website

Making a good first impression involves more thought and preparation than ever and goes far beyond a firm handshake and warm smile. Make sure your website is up to the task and creates the impression you want to make.

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