How self-centered brands make nonprofit websites weak

Sometimes, your website reveals things about your organization that you might not have intended.

Like: Hey donor, we are not very interested in you. But we think you should be very interested in us!

That’s common, though I doubt it’s ever the intended message. Let me show you how it happens by describing a very typical nonprofit homepage. It features these elements:

A very large “hero” image

Often visually striking, which is good. But just as often it doesn’t tell a clear story that’s aimed at a donor. It probably makes sense to people working at the organization. But that doesn’t really matter, does it?

You need more than amazing image to build a brand and connect with donors. Your homepage — including the main image — should tell a story that includes the donor. It needs to shout out, “Here’s a way you can change the world!”

Not, Look at the great things this organization is doing. When you do that, donors are likely to respond with a quick, “That’s nice.” But they won’t be saying, “YES! That’s exactly the way I want to change the world.

Headlines about what the organization is up to

As with the big image, the key is what and who these things are about.

A donor-centered brand finds ways to put the power to bring change (and the credit for making it possible) in the hands of the donor. Every time.

Showing people your excellence, your methodology, all the things you are justly proud of … only gets you part of the way there. Because donors don’t give just because you’re great. They give because they can see that your values align with theirs, and you offer them the opportunity to make the world better.

“About Us” content that really is just about us, not about the donor

I know everyone takes the idea of about us very literally. But why? How many donors really care.

Think how much more interesting it would be to think of the us in about us included the donor! Think about the action they can take by giving, and make that the topic.

Of course, they need to know things about you. But put it in terms of what it all means to them.

Hidden DONATE buttons

Do you want people to donate?

Make sure they can find the donate buttons. Put them in a stand-out (not brand-compliant!) color. Make them big. Have more than one on key pages. And, just maybe, have them say something more specific than DONATE … though DONATE is far better than something people have to figure out!

Your website may have duties other than raising funds. It’s even possible that those duties are more important than raising funds — like ticket sales for arts organization, or patient services for health organizations. Fair enough.

But if your website is mainly aimed at motivating donors to give, really make it do that. Make every word, every image, every button and action inform, delight, and move donors to give.

People don’t give because you’ve told them a lot of facts. They give because they can see with their hearts as well as their minds, that your values align with theirs and that your organization is a great channel for their personal mission for changing the world.


Comments

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog