Taking Five Website Staples to the Next Level

Allison Van Diest - 02.20.2009

I recently had the opportunity to speak to David Kinard at Marketing News Radio about the benefits nonprofits can realize through investment in their web presence.

You can listen to the audio webcast from the program here:


As everyone is acknowledging these days, online donors are going to be a key growth segment for nonprofit organizations this year.  As discussed in the 2007 Target Analytics DonorCentrics Report, the average online donor gives more initially and has a higher lifetime value than a conventional donor.  Therefore, the importance of online giving as a growing revenue stream and website visitors as a target market worth focusing on cannot be underestimated.  To enrich current relationships, establish new relationships, and to encourage all constituents to interact and give online, nonprofits must shift from offering a static, marketing-centric website to a dynamic, interactive, and constituent-centric website.

Fortunately, according to the past three State of the Nonprofit Industry (SONI) surveys and other research, the majority of nonprofits have already begun evolving their websites from static “brochure-ware” into dynamic “virtual doorways” into their organizations.  The term “virtual doorway” describes a website that welcomes new and returning visitors in from the cold of the worldwide web with relevant, targeted information and a clear path to needed services and desired outcomes.  But while many organizations have taken their first steps, there is still a long way to go.  Whether your organization is cutting edge or a bit behind the curve, optimizing your website to nail online marketing basics is critical, and providing interactive experiences and services for visitors are part of those basics.

So what are the universally accepted basics of website marketing?  According to the nonprofit community, as reported in SONI and validated in other studies, nonprofit website essentials include the following:

  1. Direct or mass email marketing – 78% of nonprofits say they are doing this, although only 58% claim their email address files have grown in the last twelve months, indicating much room for improvement
  2. Online fundraising – 72% of nonprofits provide the ability for a website visitor to make a donation
  3. eNewsletters – 61% of nonprofits send out an electronic newsletter.  Right away there is an obvious opportunity for the organizations who are emailing without sending eNewsletters to better steward supporters by adding a newsletter to the marketing mix
  4. Website usage reports – 52% of nonprofits are utilizing this absolutely essential (and often free!) tool
  5. Online event registration – 49% of nonprofits allow prospective attendees to register for events online.  As 78% of nonprofits send event invitations through direct mail, this wide gap between online and offline is an area that screams for better constituent service

Is your organization implementing a well-thought out strategy in each of these areas, merely checking the box, or not even in the game yet?  Regardless of how well you are doing each, there is more than likely room for improvement in at least one of these five essential categories.

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