By Jay Wilkinson, founder and CEO of Firespring.

I don’t want to stress you out, but it’s time to start thinking about the holidays.

One of the biggest keys to fundraising success is planning ahead, especially when it comes to large or important campaigns and initiatives. That includes #GivingTuesday, arguably one of the best chances you have each November—right on the cusp of the holiday season—to expand your reach, increase awareness and drive revenue. It’s an important opportunity to introduce your organization to a whole new community of supporters. It also means you have an important chance to make a first and lasting impression.

Why am I telling you this now, months away from the holiday season? Because in a recent survey by GivingTuesday.org, when nonprofits were asked what they would do differently in 2017, the overwhelming majority said they would plan earlier. And with 78% of teams consisting of just one or two people, it’s more important than ever to have an online presence that works hard for you—and that, of course, requires advance planning, especially if your current online presence is not what you want it to be.

Let’s focus on your website for a minute, because that is your prime piece of online real estate. You own that space, unlike Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social networks you may use. Your website should be the center of your nonprofit’s universe. And because people prefer web-based communication two-to-one over all other forms of communication, it should also be the hub of your communication efforts.

Since 82% of donors visit a nonprofit’s website before they decide to donate, it’s important that your website be your top firespringonline investment, especially before #GivingTuesday, the holiday season and your end-of-year campaign rolls around.

What can you do now to get ready? Optimize your most-visited webpages so they’re ready for your visitors. Here are four things you can do now to get your website ready for prime time:

  1. Provide clear calls to action. Make all of your call to action buttons obvious and tell your visitors exactly what they need to do with each one. Don’t assume they’ll just figure it out. Spell it out—literally. Instead of Submit, use words like Donate Now, Give Today, Subscribe or Register. Be specific about what you want your visitor to do on each page.
  2. Write with the end user in mind. Get rid of insider language and nonprofit lingo and speak human. Also, write as if you’re having a one-on-one conversation. Appeal to the user’s emotions. Your language should focus on benefits—how does your organization make a difference, both for the people you serve and your donors?
  3. Make your content easy to digest. Most people don’t read website copy word for word—they skim and scan through information. Make it easy for your visitors to read your website content by breaking it up with bullet points, using subheads and keeping your message compelling but succinct.
  4. On forms, don’t ask for what you don’t need. With your online forms, only ask for what you need in order for your visitor to complete the desired action. Every field you require chips away at your conversion rate, so if all you need is a name and an email address, don’t ask for more. Keep it as simple as possible.

This will give you a good start, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive list. If you want to dig deeper into the nuts and bolts of creating an engaging website that will motivate your donors on #GivingTuesday and, in fact, all year round, I invite you to sign up for my can’t-miss webinar on May 24.

 

About Jay Wilkinson

Jay Wilkinson has been actively involved in the nonprofit community his entire life. He sits on the board of several nonprofits and is an avid supporter of programs that provide leadership and enrichment programs for America’s youth. As a philanthropist, Jay has raised millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations. As an educator, he has trained thousands of fundraisers, marketers and nonprofit executives and has appeared on CNN and other national news outlets discussing the important role nonprofits play in the U.S. economy.

Jay is the founder and CEO of Firespring—a company that provides beautiful websites and essential tools to nonprofit organizations. Firespring helps nonprofits raise money, manage donors, organize volunteers and conduct events while presenting a powerful and professional online presence. Firespring is proud to be the first B-Corporation in Nebraska and is on a quest to transform the business landscape by encouraging all companies to leverage their people and profit as a force for good.