May 23, 2012

9 Web Strategy Ideas for Not-for-Profits

Not-for-profit organisations turn to both online and offline channels to accomplish their goals, including promoting a cause, telling an organisation's story and establishing its identity, seeking donations, establishing authority and credibility, and sharing the work being done (and where donor money is going). 

I'd like to share some online strategy tips for not-for-profits based on our own work with organisations like Anglicare Victoria and Whitelion (and a bit of side research).

1. Keep it simple

Identify your organisation and what it does on your home page. Keep it simple and clear!

That means not jamming everything on the home page. If you try to say, Sign this petition! Donate here! Sign up to our newsletter! Volunteer here! in one place, it will overwhelm users. Instead, encourage users to explore the website when they arrive with clear navigation and solid design.

2. Content and Design

Focus on your content rather than a flashy design. Your message is essential and should be your primary concern. That said, the images and visual elements on a website can help to tell a powerful story - and as we cover in point 3 below, that story is essential for most non-profit organisations.

Consider what - and how - you want to share your message before considering what the site should look like. With the message in mind, you can build a website around the content rather than having to manipulate the text and images to suit a design that doesn't match up with your end goals.

And please create content based on your target audience, not to meet the needs of everyone and anyone. That means forgetting your own perspective and delivering what your audience wants to find on your website!

 3. Tell your story

The story behind your cause is essential for not-for-profit organisations, and this story should be a connecting force throughout your website and offline channels. This story can be communicated in a number of ways, including:

  • Mission statement
  • History of the organisation
  • Case studies/stories of the organisation and its work
  • "Thank you's" to donors
  • Blogs from volunteers, the CEO, etc
  • Social media

With a strong story you will also have a strong identity, and this will differentiate your organisation.

4. Test and Refine

Google Analytics is a great free tool to track your website and user activity on the site. What's also great is that you can enter a particular event and track the entire process. For example, if you accept donations on your website, test the pathway that donors must go through before they reach the final step. Use this data to determine which calls to action (CTAs) are effective and which may need to be refined (or replaced!)

5. Keep it Updated

Keep the information on your website fresh and relevant. A news section with a "latest post" from 2009 doesn't look great. Same goes for events, blogs and social media. Not only is new content good for SEO, but it shows how active and involved your organisation is in the community/its chosen cause.

 6. Online Communities

Interact with an online community - whether its on your website or a social network - to make your volunteers, supporters and donors your own marketing team.

In social media, we've seen not-for-profits utilise networks like Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook to promote their message and unique identities. You can also create an online forum for volunteers to share their stories on your website and add a valuable dimension and level of passion to your cause and its story.

 7. Utilise your Database

Newsletters are a fantastic tool to:

  • Reach out to your donors and supporters and let them see what their hard work and donations have accomplished.
  • Compel subscribers to act
  • Create personal communications
  • Track and see which content is popular among your audience and most effective

 8. Get Feedback

It's easy to add a quick (or more involved) survey to get feedback from your site visitors. For example:

  • what social media networks would be helpful to interact with?
  • what features do they want on your website?
  • what information is missing on the webiste?
  • what events would they like to participate in?

You can see how one of our clients, Anglicare Victoria, uses a poll to collect information from its target audience.

9. Be Found

Search engine marketing is important for any organisation on the web. We've blabbered on about this in many other places - check out our posts here, here and here.

 Contact us at or 1300 780 566 for how we can help your not-for-profit organisation succeed on the web. And check out our showcase for examples of our clients in this sector.

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