Is Your Website Sustaining Your Organization?

While social media is changing the web, your organization’s website can still be the corner stone for getting people engaged, telling your story, and supporting the mission of your organization. You want a website that attracts and keeps visitors returning as well as inspire them to get involved.

How do you build a website with a clear case for support for your organization? Make sure a visitor to your website can easily

1. Understand immediately the urgency of the problem for which your organization exists

People generally only stay on websites for 2-3 minutes. In that time you need to grab their attention, introduce them to the problem and your organization’s solution, and then compel them to action. That’s not a lot of time for all of that. The front page of your website should have bold words and visuals that show how your problem impacts lives and compels visitors to your website to be part of the solution.

2. Get informed about what overall community actions are required to resolve the problem

No one organization can solve huge issues like poverty or homelessness. Demonstrate your expertise by showing how communities do and can work together to address this issue and where your programs fit in. Show vewers your very big audacious vision for social change and what you’re doing now to get there.

 3. Learn about your organization’s specific response to resolve the problem

Lay out in clear detail your organization’s programs and projects. This not only gives visitors a clear vision of the work you do on the ground but also gives them an idea of where they might be able to get involved. Different initiatives speak to different people so have someplace where people can explore the specifics of what you do.

 4. Be convinced of your organization’s impact on the problem’s root-causes

Get beyond outputs and how many people you are serving and start focusing on outcomes. Show visitors how you are not only addressing the visible issues but peeling back the layers to figure out what’s causing those issues. An organization’s job should be to “work themselves out of the business.” How are you not only alleviating the issue, but working to eradicate it? Show your visitors your organization’s plan for progress.

 5. Build confidence in your initiative’s capacity to impact the community through past and present success stories, statistics, etc.

This is one of the most important functions your website serves. Use multimedia to clearly display your impact to visitors with videos, infographics, and photos. In addition to stories and statistics your website also should include documents to promote transparency like your IRS 990 and annual report. Let donors see where their money and time will go and who it will impact.

 6. Directly ask visitors to support the project’s mission

Once you’ve made your case, you need to make the ask. Provide clear ways people can get involved with varying levels of commitment. Some visitors will just want to sign up for updates with an e-newsletter or social media channel, while others might be ready to commit time or money. Provide various ways they can stay in touch, find out more, and give to your organization.

One great tool to figure out whether your website is up to snuff is the Website Wizard, an e-assessment developed by Campaign Consultation to apply these tips to your website. This simple tool will guide you through your website from a user perspective and make sure your website is working to sustain your organization.

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I have always been active in my community and have tried my hand at many different aspects of social change from preserving historic documents at the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library to founding Geeks for Good, an organization that matches nonprofits with tech savvy volunteers. Throughout my career, I have worked with 21 nonprofit organizations to create new websites, marketing materials, campaigns, and programs that help build relationships, empower change makers, and create strong, vibrant communities. I serve as Project Specialist at Campaign Consultation, Inc. Read more.

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