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4 ways your site should support year-end virtual fundraising

July 03, 2023
A nonprofit professional sits before a laptop, figuring out how to improve the organization's website for year-end virtual fundraising.

Before the year-end giving season, take stock of your nonprofit organization and review how well your strategies have performed so far. What has worked well to keep donors engaged with your purpose? Are there any gaps in your current fundraising strategy? What will be the most important asset for your organization at year-end and beyond?

Over the past few years, it’s become clear that digital-centric strategies have many proven benefits and are here to stay. This means your website is one of your nonprofit’s most valuable tools for staying connected to your supporters and bringing in end-of-year donations.

To help your organization prepare its website for year-end fundraising, we’ll go over key recommendations for a well-designed, highly functional website. This will help you reach, engage, and retain donors both during and after year-end. Let’s get started.

1. Use integrated digital tools.

Software integrations are extremely valuable for any organization that relies on technology to get its work done, including nonprofits. Integrations allow data to flow freely from one platform to another, making it easier to generate the performance insights you need to make strategic improvements over time.

The tools you use to engage supporters online should integrate with your website and, ideally, your database or constituent relationship management (CRM) platform. These include your donation page, email sign-ups, advocacy forms, and any other features that collect engagement data from site visitors. Using an integrated toolkit has a number of key benefits:

  • Real-time insights into your virtual fundraising performance
  • More data generated over time to help you continually improve your fundraising and marketing strategies
  • More comprehensive and standardized data in your CRM

For instance, Bonterra Donor Engagement’s Development + Digital solutions combine all marketing, fundraising, and engagement tools on a unified CRM. When a donor fills out your mobile-optimized donation page, you’ll be able to instantly access that data to inform campaigns in other channels, from email to social media.

Furthermore, software integrations come with a number of data hygiene benefits, thanks to standardized data entry and formatting. This is especially important during the year-end season. Use this key moment of increased traffic to expand your support base by accurately recording all your new contacts, and leverage your integrated tools to encourage further engagement.

2. Prioritize a streamlined user experience (UX) for donors.

Modern virtual fundraising standards have led donors to expect high-quality, user-friendly interfaces for every nonprofit they support. This is particularly important for your online donation process—a streamlined giving process shows users that you care about their time and makes it easy for them to make a contribution.

Follow these best practices to optimize your donation page:

  • Clearly label your fields and steps.
  • Keep the number of required steps to a minimum.
  • Host the donation page on your website rather than requiring donors to leave your site to use a third-party tool.
  • Offer intuitive options, like recurring gifts and email sign-ups, during the donation process.

However, the best nonprofit websites prioritize UX beyond just the donation process. Think about why supporters visit your website. Is it easy for them to find what they need? Is everything clearly labeled? How long does it take to sign up for emails, make a donation, or navigate to your blog? Use these questions as a jumping-off point for making UX improvements across your website.

3. Make full use of your blog content.

There’s a ton of competition for your donors’ attention online, especially during the year-end season. Digital content, including blog posts, videos, interviews, and constituent stories, will help to:

  • Engage supporters and keep your nonprofit on their minds.
  • Illustrate your purpose, work, and community to make compelling cases for support.
  • Create more touchpoints to reach new donors, like social shares.

However, to make full use of this content, your digital content strategies need to be cohesive and centralized. Use your website’s blog as the anchor for a complete omni-channel strategy. Here’s how this type of strategy might work for your nonprofit:

  1. Post new content to your blog, like a post about how your recent project or program benefited your community.
  2. Ensure that new blog content is well-formatted and encourages readers to take the next step, like making a donation or signing up for a virtual volunteer opportunity.
  3. Link to your new blog post on other platforms, like social media and email, to encourage your audience members to check it out.

If your blog hasn’t seen much activity in recent months, add creating content to the top of your to-do list. Regularly adding valuable and meaningful content to your blog will give you a solid foundation for building engagement across your other online channels—resulting in an active website for year-end donors to discover and engage with.

4. Ensure your site is easy to maintain.

As Cornershop Creative’s web maintenance guide explains, website maintenance involves both the ongoing review of your site’s performance and ad hoc solutions to address unexpected problems as they arise.

While some major issues will require the help of tech experts, you can take steps on your own to ensure your site is easier to maintain in the long run. Start by following these best practices:

  • Reduce duplicate files and images. As you create and post more engaging content, make sure you’re not inadvertently slowing down your website with a clogged library of unused or duplicate files. Specialized plug-ins and tools can help you automatically identify and delete or replace these files.
  • Keep your website organized. A clearly defined website structure keeps everything organized and makes it easy to tidy up in the future. If your website has a number of unused, irrelevant, or outdated pages, redirect them to a more relevant live page or your home page.
  • Regularly update your navigation. As your website expands and evolves, make sure your navigation bar continues to accurately reflect its structure. This ensures that visitors can easily explore your website content without running into any errors.
  • Double-check the functionality of your integrated tools. As third-party software (like your donation tools) gets updated over time, the integrations that connect them with your website may also be affected. Routinely check that your integrated web tools are still functioning properly on both the front and back end of your site.
  • Make a plan for site crashes. While no one wants their site to crash unexpectedly, you’ll need a mitigation plan in place to ensure it gets handled properly. For example, you’ll need to determine who you’ll notify when a crash occurs to start resolving any issues as soon as possible.

By incorporating these best practices into your approach to website maintenance, you can safeguard and make the most of the hard work you’ve put into offering a positive, streamlined user experience. And, you’ll ensure that your website works to empower your year-end fundraising.

Leveling up your year-end fundraising with your website

Going forward, your nonprofit’s website will be more important than ever for reaching, engaging, and retaining donors. With integrated features, a donor-centric UX, engaging content, and tidy maintenance protocols, your nonprofit’s website will be able to power your year-end fundraising and help you tap into the support of donors for many campaigns to come.

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