Over the next 6 posts, I shall introduce guidelines for making a case for your charity online. They build on my post “How to Draw Down Donations”, which summarises the six steps towards making a case for donations. So, when appealing for donations your situation is paramount.
Why charities? Well, in the UK charitable status is one way organisations demonstrate accountability. If you’re seeking donations, you need to consider registering as a charity.
Making a case for donations is one approach to generating income online and it might not be right one for your organisation. My aim is to help you work out your ideal approach. If you choose to explore donations further you will need professional help. I may be able to help you find the expertise you need.
Presenting Your Situation
Anyway, on your website the first thing you need to present is your situation and why you need financial help. Whatever your cause, here are a few things you can consider when presenting your case online:
- An account of your cause is likely to be on the first page your visitor encounters. This is often called a landing page and it should be designed as your visitors’ first encounter with your site. First impressions are important and the page will need to be search engine optimised. I shall explain these terms in future posts.
- You may need more than one landing page. Depending upon the nature of your cause, you may need to present it in different ways for different audiences. So, a charity supporting research into cancer might appeal to people who have cancer, people bereaved because of cancer, people interested in research into cancer, medical professionals and so on. Each of these may need to arrive at a different landing page. They will have access to the same site but they need to know the site is for them.
- Stories are immensely powerful and you may find you need a different story on each landing page. Getting this right is important.
- Broadly there are two types of story. You may want to tell a story about your cause so, continuing with my example, it might be a story about someone’s battle with cancer or about a research project. The other type of story is about your organisation. Why this charity started, the issues and problems it has faced. Don’t underestimate the value of the second type. Often people value insight into what’s behind the scenes and it is likely to build trust with your site visitors. Sometimes these two stories can be combined.
- Be clear about the overall purpose of your charity and what it does for the target visitors to this particular landing page. You don’t need lots of statistics and evidence at this stage.
- Every page should have one clear action step for its reader. They read the story, what do you want them to do next? Most likely to read on by clicking through to another page. You can lead your visitors through a series of pages that will eventually arrive at your target action step. I shall show you how to test your website about its effectiveness in moving visitors to the point when they must choose to take your desired action (or not).
- But what is your target action step? Are you going to rely on visitors spending enough time on your site to persuade them to donate? Or do you see more value in building a long-term relationship? So for a major crisis in the news, you might ask for a donation on the landing page with a small amount of copy. Otherwise, you may wish to build a long-term relationship with people who will donate several times. These two are not mutually exclusive. Someone who donates to a crisis appeal may also make a good long-term supporter. If you are seeking long-term support, the best way is through email lists, something else I’ll discuss in more detail later.
Have you used landing pages, and action steps on your site? If you already have a landing page, I offer a free review here. Or write a comment about your thoughts or experience.