Even if the majority of your revenue still comes through the mail, there’s a good chance that a large amount of those gifts were influenced by your website. The 2012 Cygnus Donor Survey found that the majority of respondents visited a non-profit’s website to validate their giving decision.
“83% of respondents said they conduct research on not-for-profits that they are considering for support and the most common way they do this is by spending time on the websites of charities in which they are interested.”
That means your website has to have critical information about what you do and how you do it that is clear, understandable and easy to find.
To make sure the content on your homepage is usable, consider these five types of information that potential donors are looking for according to user research done by the Nielsen Norman Group in their “Non-profit and Charity Website Usability” study.
- Mission, goals, objective and work—What do you do and how do you do it?
- Use of donations and contributions—Will my money be put to good use?
- Legitimacy and reputation—Are you worthy of my donation?
- Local presence—Do you provide a benefit that could improve my immediate surroundings?
- Site security—Will my personal billing information be protected?
The last one—site security—is less important for donors researching a donation through the mail. But, the Cygnus research goes on to state that “32% of donors not intending to give during their most recent visit to a not-for-profit website actually followed through and made a gift as a result of what they learned.”
So, how well does your homepage answer these critical questions?