As you consider your electronic brochure, you can also think about what you want people to put into the site and what you want out of the site. These fall under calls to action. When someone reads a brochure, the developer of that brochure anticipates it will lead to some action on behalf of the reader. A website is no different. However there are things you can do with a site.
Having established your value proposition, and described how you operate and what the costs are relating to the service you provide you may now wish to lead the user to a call to action, in this case a donate action. You might be surprised to learn that some charities may wish to provide a downloadable form at this stage. Better options that relate more to the 21st century expectation of “I want it and I want it now” is to provide a secure link to a third party website that collects funds on your behalf and may also look after Gift Aid as well.
Virgin and BT
Here there are further complications to consider. There are many organisations that are willing to offer a secure and reliable service for processing your donations. However they keep some of the donation to pay for their operational costs. There are others out there that have a one off set up charge and are largely free. Virgin Money Giving is one, another is BT My Donate. In both cases the operational costs of running the service are paid by the corporation not your donors.
Just Giving (and others)
I have heard arguments that Just Giving should be used because everyone knows them. However Just Giving have a monthly charge to cover their operating expenses. So your donors are helping you to run as well as Just Giving. Fundamentally people will go to your website to make the connection to the fundraising partner, so it does not really matter whom you go to providing their site is secure and there is an account on the page that relates back to your organisation. Do however understand where the money goes,
Walk in your donors shoes!
Others fund raising partners use language that states; every penny goes to the charity, then you find out you have to pay £2.50 for the benefit of making the online donation. In all cases live the customer experience, Walk in your donors shoes. You don’t need to be an expert, but if you go through the experience you are expecting your donors and other users to have, you will quickly be able to optimise and improve the process.
One of the mandatory items on most sites is a contact us form. Rather than using an email address, which can be grabbed by bots (automated computers collecting information) passing your site, and then added to a junk email list, you can use a form. The email address can be hidden in this way. The form user does not need an email application either to send you the message. You can also have additional information on the form such as what the enquiry is about, and even route certain forms to different people. For example a membership secretary.
These do not need to be in a separate site, they can be integrated into your site relatively easily. You invite people to subscribe to your site if they are interested in the content. These are the very valuable leads. Once people subscribe you can alert them about new content on the site and then they can return. If you create a manual newsletter in Publisher or Word, it probably takes you a long time to create it. If you create regular news on your site to tell people what is going on then you can send out a newsletter directly from your website. This takes about 5 minutes to create based on content already on your site. Having an integrated solution offers many time saving advantages.
So your developer has built your site what happens now? For all of the sites I create I use Google Analytics. This will show you how many people visit, where from (country), and what they are looking at. You can check this independently. There are a few simple actions you can take to improve the ranking of your website. They are free. You do not need to pay for advertising in most cases. Especially if you are a local regional charity.
This refers to Search Engine Optimisation. It is used to help promote key words in your site that relate to the service you provide. There are people that will charge you £150 per month to do this. By arranging for certain keywords to occur in multiple places within the content on a page or within the site, this will influence search engines and your ranking. Of course you are competing with everyone else that has the same keywords. There are both professional people that work in this area, and quite a few scams as well that manipulate the statistics for websites through SEO, or simply sending more traffic to a site which is what the scammers do.
Many organisations I work with often do not wish to venture into the world of Facebook or Twitter, or the other major social networking sites. Sometimes it is because of privacy and disclosure issues, more often it is because they have heard some bad press about it and have some preconceived ideas. Conversely those that embrace Social Media, particularly where it is managed and moderated show a corresponding increase in website activity.
The bottom line is that you really cannot maximise the impact you and your organisation make without it. It is free marketing, made purely on recommendations for others. It is very effective. For many of the sites I have created they link to Facebook and Twitter accounts. You will find that demographically a younger audience uses social media as a way of keeping in touch, the older generation may subscribe to a website. Therefore you really need both.
However unlike a commercial organisation where there are paid staff editing and posting content, in the voluntary world you need someone to drive Social Media as well as the website. The most successful voluntary driven sites have a small group of editors covering both.
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