5 Ways to Optimize Your Website for Fundraising

As we head towards the end of 2021, take the time to reflect on your nonprofit’s efforts and hard work over the past year. You overcame a global pandemic, you pivoted your events to virtual, and you survived remote work—so, what’s next

End the year with a bang and prepare your organization to thrive in this modern and increasingly digital world by taking a hard look at your nonprofit website and ensure that it is fully optimized for fundraising

Whether your nonprofit has had a lapse of donors or you want to set your organization up to meet the modern needs of your current supporters, it’s worth it to rethink your digital nonprofit strategy. Even small tweaks and changes can take your website to the next level and increase fundraising for your mission. 

Here are the top tips that you should consider: 

  1. Start with a nonprofit site audit
  2. Map out the donor journey
  3. Make sure your site is mobile-responsive
  4. Leverage all fundraising opportunities
  5. Take a continuous improvement approach

The most effective nonprofit websites are constantly evolving and improving to meet the needs of their supporters and further their mission. Let’s start with a site audit. 

1. Start with a nonprofit site audit

A website audit is an in-depth review of your site’s current performance. It not only highlights elements that are successful but also reveals gaps in your digital strategy and indicates the types of site optimizations and improvements you might need.

Site audits may not directly increase your fundraising efforts, but a well-working website is a critical component to engaging your donors and representing your mission. 

Many nonprofit leaders partner with a dedicated consultant to conduct a comprehensive audit. But you can also conduct a simple audit on your own by using free online tools like Google Lighthouse or Moz – SEO tools to highlight immediate issues like site load speed and search engine optimization (SEO). 

Here are the other steps you might take when completing your audit:

  • Note any immediate technical problems like outdated online donation tools, plugins, modules.
  • Optimize your website for SEO so that your website can rank higher in search engine results for related keywords. You might include specific keywords in headers or add alternative text to images. 
  • Check for broken features like links, forms, or files that don’t work.
  • Remove duplicate content to minimize confusion and keep your site content organized. 
  • Ensure page speed is under 3 seconds for desktop devices. 
  • Look for any accessibility issues by following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Once you’ve audited your nonprofit site, you can make a list of features that need to be tweaked and updated. This list can guide your digital transformation and ensure your website fully supports your nonprofit fundraising efforts. 

2. Map out the donor journey

If you want to optimize your online fundraising, try putting yourself in your donors’ shoes. 

According to Kanopi’s guide to the donor journey, your website plays an essential role for prospective donors researching nonprofits and deciding to give. 

Analyzing the donor journey helps fundraising professionals not only better understand their supporters but figure out how to make their experience and engagement more valuable to their organization. Mapping out this journey can provide a framework for how to optimize your own website and incentivize users to make their donations. 

Ensure your website facilitates the donor journey successfully by considering the user experience and how easy it is to make a gift on your website. Here are some of the common tweaks you can make to encourage your website’s visitors to complete their donor journey:

    • Make sure your site is easily navigable with an overarching navigation bar that directs visitors to popular landing pages (like your donation page!).
    • Use calls-to-action (CTA) across your website to incentivize supporters to take action and give. For instance, consider putting a “Donate Now” CTA on your homepage so that new visitors know exactly where and how they can give. 
    • Develop web personas by looking at past engagement data and your current supporter base. Map out personas for each audience to better understand how your website can serve their needs. For instance, if a lot of your supporters are volunteers, make sure you have a clear pathway to your volunteer opportunities. 
    • Streamline the donation process by embedding your online donation form, limiting your form fields to only necessary questions, and integrating your payment processor. Explore Qgiv’s guide to donation page best practices for more tips on how to optimize this essential page. 

To summarize, if you want site visitors to give at the end of their journey, make sure your web design seamlessly leads users to your donation page and that your content provides valuable information to inspire that gift. 

3. Make sure your site is mobile responsive

Mobile devices are a regular part of your supporters’ everyday lives. In fact, 1 in 4 donors use their phones to discover new nonprofits with 25% of online donors completing gifts from their mobile devices. 

Ensuring your website is mobile responsive is critical for optimizing your online fundraising. Otherwise, you’ll turn away many of your supporters and present your organizations as outdated—after all, what modern site can’t function on a smartphone? 

While most content management systems should automatically support mobile responsiveness, here are some quick tweaks and changes you can make now to ensure your content displays correctly on all screen sizes:

  • Design your website for portrait mode as around 90% of mobile sites use vertical navigation.
  • Implement a sticky navigation menu so it stays in place as mobile users scroll down your site.
  • Make sure your text and buttons are big enough to read and click on for all finger sizes. 

Specifically, a website that is not mobile responsive is missing out on contextual giving opportunities, donations that were given during the same context or situation that inspired the gift in the first place. 

For instance, let’s say someone shares an emotional story about how your organization helped them at an in-person fundraising event. With a mobile-responsive website, your attendees can give immediately, right when they’re most affected by the story. If they had to wait until they got home to make a gift, they might give a lower amount or forget to give at all, causing you to miss out on a key contextual giving opportunity.

4. Leverage all fundraising opportunities 

Your first impulse to improve your website’s fundraising is likely be how you can optimize your online donation form. After all, this is where supporters decide to make their gifts.

Your website can take this a step further to inspire other fundraising opportunities besides a simple online gift. Here are some recommendations that can be added directly to your online donation page:

  • Embedded matching gift database Matching gifts has only been getting more popular, even despite a global pandemic. The most common reason that matching gift revenue is not utilized more is that your donors likely don’t know about it! Within your donation page, embed a searchable matching gift database so that supporters can quickly look up their employers and see if they can increase their gifts with a contribution from their employer. You can even take it a step further by seeking out automated software and matching gift tools that can find eligible donors in your database and send them the necessary information. 

 

  • Provide suggested giving amounts – Sometimes supporters know they want to give, but don’t know exactly how much they should donate. With suggested giving amounts, you let them know the exact gift size that will benefit your mission. Additionally, providing a list of suggested giving amounts can even encourage donors to give more than they initially planned. Someone who planned to give $50 might be incentivized to give a little more when they see a suggested giving amount of $75! To take this a step further, explain the impact of each suggested amount. For instance, you might say $25 can buy 3 meals for a family, $50 can buy 6 meals, and so on.


  • Recurring giving options – Did you know that recurring donors give 42% more per year than one-time donors? Plus, some donors would rather give a small amount on a monthly basis than one big gift anyway. Make sure your online donation tool can handle recurring gifts so that donors only have to put in their data once!

The optimizations listed above rely on the tech solutions you have at your disposal. Build a powerful nonprofit tech stack to ensure you have the ability to leverage these fundraising opportunities. 

5. Take a continuous improvement approach to site maintenance 

Just because you optimize your website now, doesn’t mean your job is done forever. In fact, nonprofit websites require regular and consistent maintenance in order to be truly valuable and produce results for your organization. 

This is because your content management system and fundraising tools are constantly updating with new versions. Your website content will also change as you provide updates on your mission, launch new programs, and make posts about current events, new industry trends, and other relevant news to your mission.

Take a continuous improvement approach to nonprofit website maintenance to ensure your website stays up-to-date and valuable for users. This means that, instead of waiting for a major website optimization project, any site issues, fixes, and updates are addressed as soon as they’re first brought up. This ensures that your website is fully functioning at all times—no processes, tools, or links are broken. 

You can take a continuous improvement approach by:

  • Consistently updating content, like event lists or calendars, as needed, as well as weeding out content that no longer supports your mission.
  • Updating your CMS and any plugins/modules as soon as they become available.
  • Checking your website metrics to see how online conversions are doing. If you notice that your online donation page has a high bounce rate, consider what steps you can take to encourage supporters to see their donations through to completion.  

When you continuously check in on your website to ensure it’s performing at peak condition, your visitors will always be able to engage with your content and donate an online gift. 

Wrapping Up

Your nonprofit website is a valuable resource for engaging your donors, building relationships, and increasing your online fundraising. Start with a nonprofit tech audit, consider your donors’ needs, and make sure to leverage all fundraising opportunities when optimizing your website. 

Plus, once your optimized website is up and running, don’t forget to consistently check in to ensure it is always serving your nonprofit audience. Good luck!

About the Author

As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.

Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.

https://twitter.com/Anne_Kanopi

https://www.drupal.org/u/annabella

https://www.linkedin.com/in/annestefanyk/

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