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ONLINE FUNDRAISING

Design Consideration

Successful fundraising begins with building relationships and trust, understanding donors and online visitors, and providing excellent customer service. It takes work to build an effective Web site with up-to-date content that is relevant to visitors and donors. Satisfied visitors become satisfied donors. They provide referrals and repeat visits that over time will benefit the organization. Building trust will payoff for an organization.

People judge an organization within seconds of visiting its Web site for the first time. If the site is hard to navigate, difficult or slow to upload, has outdated or unclear content, visitors and potential donors may feel frustrated, refrain from donating and never return to the site.

It is therefore important to design an appealing, donor friendly Web site. Include a concise version of the organization's mission statement and highlight projects and accomplishments that benefited from donations. By building donor trust in and respect for the organization, the likelihood that someone will give increases. Include contact information at the bottom of each page so that those who want to make a large gift know how to reach the organization.

Make it easy to give online. Forms should be simple in design and transactions should be secure, quick and uncomplicated. The most successful organizations put attractive membership offers or compelling appeals on their home page as well as including a Donate or Join link in the navigation on every page. Incorporate asks into the Web site's content at the end of an article and an invitation to support the organization's mission. Donors are more likely to give if they have choices so offer a variety of online payment options ranging from credit cards, electronic checks or PayPal.

Begin building an email list. Most people will probably not donate the first time they visit a Web site. However, if they subscribe to the organization's newsletter, the organization can begin building a relationship with that person and invite them back to the site. The newsletter can include an invitation to join the organization or make a contribution. Solicitation can also be made individually through email.

Present your case to potential donors. Share the significance/importance of the organization's mission, the organization's history, current news and relevant statistics/data about the organization's purpose. Share how donations are being used to impact the community and people's lives with success stories. Do this many times and in different ways. Spotlight volunteers and their enthusiasm for what your organization does. Strong images effectively convey the mission, commitment and accomplishments of an organization. Make sure to include contact information.

Continuously update your site to reflect the growth and changes in your organization, and keep supporters abreast of activities affecting their community. Information should be timely and relevant, and the site should serve as a "go to" resource for your organization.

The Web is a great place to solicit member feedback. With an online survey linked from the site or from an email or through a suggestion box, an organization can find out how members use its Web site and email.

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