Nine (9) Tips for Nonprofit Websites

The worldwide endemic is providing you with an opportunity.  Many people will come through this with a keen understanding of what is important to them as a human being and the world. You are in a unique position to contribute to your visitor’s journey to have an impact  and provide real life experiences to do good in this world. Show your visitors the value of volunteering, donation or just applauding. Invite your visitors into their imagination. 

The web is not your mother’s internet anymore. In today’s nonprofit world, it’s not enough to simply have a website to connect with your supporters. Your website is the direct representation of your company to the public. It is your brand — your first and eternal impression. It serves your needs just as much as it needs to serve your supporters. And in the nonprofit world, “need” and “willing to serve” are familiar, welcoming words.

As website viewers ourselves, what we look for in a website is what others look for as well. It’s not a “big ask.” In order for your site to provide limitless support for your viewers, what does it need?

It needs to captivate, navigate and inform.

  • It needs ease of comprehension, so your visitor can accomplish tasks swiftly. 
  • It needs quick, intuitive navigation for today’s short attention span.  
  • Each page needs to be well written with great imagery.
  • It needs to tell a story formatted for readers on the fly.
  • It needs mobile optimization and fast loading. Research shows you have only 3 seconds to draw people into your site.
  • It needs to incorporate shared links to articles and information posted on social media. 
  • It needs to be accessible for all visitors including the elderly or those with disabilities.
  • And naturally, it needs to be affordable. Maintaining your site shouldn’t strain your budget.

Most people learn about a nonprofit organization through social media or at local events. Research reveals that approximately 85% access Facebook from their smart phones and ergo discover your site initially using a mobile device. They open your email the first time on the mobile phone to come back later again using their desktop. 

So what does this mean for the modern website of a nonprofit organization?

These 9 tips will send you on your way to a successful online impression.

#1 Keep the number of navigation links between 5 and 7. 

  • More than that can paralyze your visitor trying to figure out where to look next.
  • Submenus are allowed, but just a few.
  • These should be easily accessible using a keyboard as well as a mouse. 

#2 Make the donation button a main navigation item.

Many visitors want to do just that — donate. Make the donation button standout from the navigation in a complementary or cross-complementary color. 

Caption: Example: Conservancy of Southwest Florida:
Blue navigation bar with Donate link in yellow.
Only 7 main navigation links.

The best practices for ecommerce sites apply also to online donations. 

#3 Keep visitors on your site to process an online donation

Maintain the trust pact you have built with your viewer. As opposed to having a third-party accept donations, your donation pages should be part of your website. This inclusion raises 6 times more money than when the donation button or link leads the donor off to another site, even if it’s a subdomain. Leading a donor away from your trusted site breaks the trust pact you’ve already established. Some potential donors hesitate with this method. If online donation is an impulse buy, any hesitation costs you money.

To avoid the extraneous data handling effort, you could use a self-hosted open-source software like CiviCRM with events, membership, donor, contact management and email marketing – all built in.  

Disclosure: Pauli Systems is a CiviCRM partner.

#4 Keep your donation process simple.

Forego large forms. It comes back to the impulse buy. Generally you don’t need the donor’s address to manage a successful payment process. You can make it a secondary contact opportunity to give a donor incentive to provide an address.

We are fans of the GiveWP plugin. You can be up and running with a good donation process in a couple of hours. 

Implement a simple donation process with Form builders. We install this on most sites to enable a Volunteer Application or Event Registration. Coupled with a payment gateway like stripe, you can make an easy to use donation process and add it to any of your organization’s landing pages, or as a Call to Action in your blog posts.  

#5 Include a second ask on your “Thank You” page and email. 

Several plugins can instantiate monthly giving. Once installed, you can ask the donor: “Do you want to make this a monthly gift?” and use an easy checkmark box to make it a subscription. If that’s not yet feasible to implement, make the second ask something like “Tell your friends” and “Share on social media” using functional social sharing buttons. 

#6 Thank you notes make and break your donor relationship.

Do not neglect the last essential piece of the puzzle: the thank you note/email. Just because an expression of thanks comes from a computer, it’s best not to make it sound automated. You can send a very personable email with your confirmation, and you can even link a “Thank you” video from a board member or one of the beneficiaries to let the donor know about the impact the donation makes. Do not use the default email of any plugin you use. Customize it.

#7 Use WP Mail SMTP Pro to process your transactional emails

The WP Mail SMTP plugin allows you to connect your website with your email service provider rather than using the built-in Mailer configuration. It’s an added cost to hook it all up, but it’s worth the money. Your emails arrive at the recipient’s primary inbox instead of in spam, promotion or updates tabs. Make it part of the requirement documentation for your consultants. Most of my clients only realize this after GoLive. 

#8 Find a good versatile form plugin.

Though only 8% of the donations by individuals in the US are made online, it has grown into double-digits in the last four years. It’s a surprising number considering how much time we spend optimizing the process. 

Plugins are available to streamline your administrative processes and reduce duplicate data entry for Event Registration, Volunteer applications, etc. Most form plugins also integrate with third-party tools like your email marketing provider, your Google Drive account and others. You might need to test a few to make sure you are able to handle any new form creation in house.

Here is a list of plugins with great documentation and support: 

Earlier, I mentioned CiviCRM as a comprehensive tool to organize your contacts, applications and forms in one space. Once you know how your organization’s administration is digitize, a CiviCRM implementation will help you streamline your processes and handle all your data in one spot.

You can test CiviCRM as a hosted solution for less than $15 a month, unlimited users, 2000 contacts and 5,000 emails pro month. Check it out here: CiviCRM Spark

#9 Keep your homepage simple.

Many studies have shown that most people come to your website not through your homepage but through a Google search, a social media link, or an email you sent. What they read and see at this entry point is more important than your homepage design. 

I have seen technology teams discuss the homepage over and over again. Discussions should focus on content strategy or donor/volunteer experience. What are the goals of your website? Unless you already have a content-rich site, that topic needs to bubble up to the front burner — content strategy and production are king. 

How much of the fancy frontpage design will make it to the mobile view? Use a small logo on the top and have a few menu items. Everything else is content on a small screen. Fancy frames and shadows get in the way of a clean layout. 

When we design a website, we revise the homepage design many times throughout the project. After the initial mock-ups, we talk a lot about information architecture, content strategy, landing pages with forms, and registration processes. Form follows function.

Conclusion

Keep in mind your main goals for your website: maintain your current supporters and attract new donors. And like anything worthwhile, a company that invests time and energy into an appealing site will reap the rewards it seeks.

Schedule a Site Review with Birgit Pauli-Haack

If you feel your organization’s website needs a site review, schedule a video conference call with screen sharing capabilities with us. We’ll go over the site with you and give at least five immediate action items you can implement with your consultant or freelancer. Interested? Fill out the form or send an email to support@paulisystems.net

Featured Image: “Be Afraid of the Enormity of the Possible” by Alfredo Jarr, The Alfond Inn, Winterpark, Florida. Photo by Birgit Pauli-Haack

Your Graphics are Honey to the Bees Or How to Find a Great Graphic for Your Content


Your graphics are honey to the bees, irresistibly drawing your worker bees – er, readers & fans – to your posts from all across the internet. Graphics are King! Don’t you believe me? You say, “It’s content.” Yes, you are right. Content is king, but only if you can get the attention of your target audience, and tempt them to click on a link to actually get to your content. A great graphic for your content makes it more shareable, more enticing to click on it and more successful. 

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How to create a Stripe Account for Online Payment Processing

For our business clients ,we mostly connect their website to Stripe payment processor.

Here is a short tutorial on the steps to create a Stripe account so that you can accept online payments or contributions.

About Stripe

The two Irish developers, John and Patrick Collison, started Stripe 2010. They wanted to provide an easier way for developers to implement payment gateway system for apps and websites. Later on, Stripe partnered with Visa and other credit card companies and it now one of the most secure, payment systems with a strong focus on fraud prevention. It was also one of the first payment gateways besides PayPal that allows for recurring charges on customer credit cards. The combination of ease of integration and high security makes it the most popular payment gateway system.

Step 0: Have all information ready

  • Who is the Admin person? Probably You.
    • What’s her email address
    • what will be a good password
    • What’s your last four digit of Social Secuirty Number
  • What’s your bank’s routing number
  • What’s your bank account number

Step 1: Enter the Registration Page on Stripe.com

Open your Internet Browser and go to https://dashboard.stripe.com/register

Step 2: Fill out the form to create an account

stripe-1.png

Notes: On this form all information is used for the admin user account. Make sure the email address is a specific email address and only the person dealing with company financials has access to it. It’s also the email address that will be contacted when you need to change your password. During normal business operation, this email address will receive notifications about payments and other important messages about your online account. When selecting a password, make sure it contains at least one lowercase, one uppercase, one number and one special character. 

When you are ready,

  • enter your email address,
  • password,
  • confirm the password,
  • check next to “I am not a robot” and
  • click on “Create your Stripe account”.

Step:3 Confirm you are the company representative

Stripe will needs additional information from you to properly identify you.

https://stripe.com/docs/connect/identity-verification

Optionally, you can use your facebook account, your LinkedIn account or your Google Account.

And you have to fill your personal identifying information

  • Your personal legal name
  • Your Date of Birth
  • The last four digits of your Social Security Number

Step 4: Enter Bank Details

You would need to have available your Routing number and your Account number. Fill out the blanks and then click on “Activate Account”

Once your Account Application Status is Approved you are able to take transactions.

Step 5: Get the Keys to connect Stripe to your Web Site

Go to https://dashboard.stripe.com/account/apikeys

Or via Dashbaord > Developers > API Keys

First you need to send to your web developer  Test Keys so she can test that your website is connecting to the Stripe account.

Your webdeveloper needs the Publishable key and the Secret Key (you need to click on “Reveal test Key Token)

Important: Please copy/paste the keys, as it’s very hard to type them from a picture.

Video: How to get your API Keys:

Once the configuration and integration work, your web developer would need also the live keys. On top of the screen is a toggle slider that lets you switching from live to test and vice versa.

And then click on “Reveal  live key token” to display the secret key and copy/paste that as well.

Step 6: Get the Webhooks

For the Contribution form to work the background communciation also need Webhooks.

Please Go to Dashboard > Developers > Webhooks

And add a Webhook: https://dianeflagg.com/?callback=gravityformsstripe

Video: How to add a webhook (GravityForm)

At that point your web developer needs to change your website to be on a secure socket layer and have HTTPS enabled on the server.

That’s all you need. Feel free to send use your questions