4 Keys to Building a Successful Nonprofit Web Site

Post by Frank Barry - 5.7.2009 - Follow me on Twitter

We recently launched a new blog here at Blackbaud Internet Solutions. It’s been an exciting endeavor and given us a lot of insight into using social media for nonprofits and fundraising! Our main goal is to help you learn how to leverage our technology and the tools that make up social media. With that in mind I’d like to share 4 Keys to Building a Successful Web Site based on similar tactics we’ve deployed on this blog.

Before we go too far, let me start by saying, “Content is King.” Without great content, the following tactics and tools are limited at best. Focus on producing great content all the time. Put these tools in place. Then use what you learn from them to grow your site! Off we go.

1) Learn From Your Content

Google Analytics Stats





If you’re not learning you’re getting dumber! Use Google Analytics (GA) to see things like how many unique visitors you’re getting, what content is being viewed the most, what keywords or phrases people are using to find you and where people are coming from when finding you. This information is invaluable to your nonprofit – Giving you the ability become more effective with your online efforts. You may not know exactly what to do with this data all the time, but to be without it is to let opportunities slip through your fingers.

Think about how you could use Google Analytics – learn from the content you’re publishing to promote your nonprofit's fundraising event. What content is being viewed for the longest time? What content is producing the desired action of registering, donating or taking action? How can you optimize, modify and adapt?

This is only a glimpse into what you can do with analytics. For real meat check out some of the below posts by Avinash Kaushik – this dude will make you drool over the possibilities!

Check out:


2) Make Your Content Easy to Consume

Feedburner Stats





Remember, “Content is King” so provide an easy way for readers to subscribe to yours. More and more people are reading content, your content, via RSS through tools like Google Reader so make it easy to find on every page of your site.

Tip: Use Google FeedBurner which will allow people to subscribe via RSS or email. You will also get some great statistics which will help you with number one above.

Another Tip: Not sure how to get RSS from the Blackbaud Sphere CMS. Check out How to Use RSS in Sphere.

Not sure what RSS is? Check out a great video by Common Craft: RSS in Plain English


3) Make Your Content Easy to Share

Add This Sharing LogoUse a social bookmarking plug-in like Add This so people who like your work can easily share with their network. Make sure to put this in an easily seen and easily accessed area of every piece of content. You don’t want to make it hard for your readers to share, do you? As with number one and two above you get additional statistics from Add This which further helps you to evaluate the impact of your web site and how you can continue improving.

Not sure what Social Bookmarking is? Check out a great video by Common Craft: Social Bookmarking in Plain English

Why Add This? See some of the reasons here. or just think about their current usage:

"AddThis buttons can be found on hundreds of thousands of websites, and are currently viewed over 20 billion times a month by users all over the world, in over 20 languages."


4) Make Yourself Easy to Find on the Social Web

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (know about the new nonprofit call to action), LinkedIn and Flickr are becoming exceedingly important to any nonprofits online presence. It’s likely your organization is already using one or more of these social networks to engage with supporters, spread your message or raise money. Chris Brogan likes to call these places “outposts”. Your main website should highlight your presence on these sites so that your readers can connect with you in social ways online – they want to get to know you and they want to see that you are doing creative things in fundraising.

Check out:



Use a URL Shortening Services!

Bit.ly URL Shortening LogoNew services such as bit.lytinyurl and budurl are emerging. They allow you to take any URL and shrink it! For example you can take the link to this page which is normally pretty long and shrink it to this http://bit.ly/4webways. A couple great things you will love:

  1. It’s easier for you to pass out in your newsletters, mailings and other printed publications
  2. It’s easier for your readers to share
  3. You get more statistics for analysis! (See #1 above).

From Read Write Web:

"We don't want to argue that Bit.ly is the next Google, but the technology it's brought to market could be very important in the indexing of the social web. Bit.ly shortens links so they are easier to share, like TinyURL. The service creates a redirect from a short Bit.ly link out to a longer link on any web page. Allong the way the service analyzes the page being linked to, pulls out the key concepts discussed on that page, and then provides real-time statistics about where the link is being shared and how many people are clicking on it."

Check out:


These are 5 things that you can implement pretty simply. Don’t put them off. Have questions? Please ask below and I’ll do my best to help out.

What am I missing? I know you have some great tips to share with the community here so please take a minute and help us out.

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