Nonprofits’ Web sites a huge area of opportunity in economic downturn

By Katy Snyder
JVA Consulting Communications and Resource Development Associate

A Washington Post article we posted about last week, To Nonprofits Seeking Cash, Facebook App Isn’t so Green, which discussed the sometimes poor returns of social marketing—such as the Facebook application Causes—for nonprofits, has led to a lively debate among nonprofits in the blogosphere about the merits of social networking. One of the article’s authors wrote a second article, suggesting that her intent was not to say that social marketing is a waste of time but that it often fails to bring in significant donations.

Whatever your stance on social marketing, it seems that many nonprofits are neglecting a resource nearly all of them already have—their Web sites. Several recent surveys, however, point to the proven effectiveness of nonprofit Web sites in bringing in donors and cite the need for nonprofits to spend more time updating Web sites than social networking sites.

A survey conducted by ForeSee Results, “Trends in Constituent Satisfaction with Nonprofit Websites: Building Membership, Donations, and Loyalty through the Web Channel,” surveyed over 2,000 people who had visited nonprofit Web sites to gauge their satisfaction with the experience and to see how Web site content and appearance affected the likelihood that they would donate. Key points from the study include:

A highly satisfied visitor to a nonprofit Web site is:
• 49% more likely to donate
• 38% more likely to volunteer
• 57% more likely to have a favorable overall impression of the organization
• 65% more likely to recommend the site
• 55% more likely to return to the site

Other recommendations include:
• Make sure all features on your site work, and that it is user-friendly: A functional site that conveys your message has the greatest impact on potential donors’ likelihood to donate, volunteer, and recommend and return to your site.

• Make donating online easy for visitors, or risk losing donations altogether: The study found that one-third of donors choose not to donate online because the donation functionality is poor, not prominent or nonexistent.

• Online donors are often repeat donors: 83 percent of individuals who donated online in 2007 donated as much or more in 2008.

• Keep news and events and organization info clear, up to date and accessible: Forty percent of visitors come to the site to get news and events info, and 40 percent come to stay informed about the cause the organization addresses.

Social networking may not bring people to your Web site, but it’s still important: People rarely learn about a nonprofit’s Web site through a blog (five percent) or through a social network (eight percent), but nearly half of visitors do use social networking, suggesting that nonprofits should not neglect social networking in their overall marketing scheme.

Another survey, conducted by ThePort Network, Inc., NTEN and Common Knowledge, whose results were published in the NonProfit Times, looked at the use of social networking by nonprofits. The survey results showed that many nonprofits are using social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, but that few are seeing any real revenue generation from being part of these networks.

The study also found that a nonprofit’s commitment to social networking sites is relatively short: 94 percent of organizations use Twitter for less than a year, and Facebook users generally use the site for only six to 24 months.

Based on these results, it seems logical and cost-effective to update and enhance your existing Web site. If you’re ready to start bringing in donors by updating your Web site, JVA Consulting can help. Our Web site services include writing/editing content, helping set up a new site, improving functionality of an existing site, keeping content up to date and search engine optimization. Contact Jessica at 303.477.4896 or jessica@jvaconsulting.com to learn more.

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One Response to Nonprofits’ Web sites a huge area of opportunity in economic downturn

  1. Jessica,

    Great ideas! I am going to pass this link and info onto our network of religious non-profit organizations. I am sure they will be benefited. Thanks!

    –Amos

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