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Why Your Digital Presence Is So Important to Fundraising Success

by Meghan Dankovich

Other than our thermostats, very little in today’s world should be approached with a “set it and forget it” mindset, especially websites. In fact, having a dynamic, relevant and user-friendly digital presence may be even more valuable to nonprofits than for many for-profits where a somewhat static page may suffice. Yet in the NPO space, getting the funding needed for year-round management, upkeep and optimization of websites and digital assets may not always be an easy sell.

It’s understandable. Nonprofits are obligated to responsibly steward donor dollars for maximum impact and not all donors and leadership understand why a continuous investment in an online presence contributes to that — yet it is arguably the most powerful marketing and communication tool you have. So, here are a few reasons why digital asset optimization should be a standard line item in the annual budget if it’s not already:

1. Your impact and the cause space you serve are ever-changing. Your website should reflect that — always. Use your online presence to take — and keep — your constituents on that journey with you through compelling storytelling. Through engaging imagery and video presented in eye-catching color and tone-setting design, you can help convey those stories in powerful, emotive and memorable ways. How often you change your content may depend on a lot of things including very real constraints like budget and resources, but given you always have new information to share, minor updates for blogs and events should be happening daily or weekly at a minimum.

2. Technology is constantly changing. Whether it’s keeping your code current with the latest Mac or Windows operating software version, adhering to new accessibility standards for screen readers or adjusting for variations in browser algorithms and interpretations of code, your IT staff and technology-related vendors know it is simply part of the job to stay vigilant to the ever-changing environment in which our digital assets exist. Monitoring the responsiveness, legibility and ease of use of your online assets across a variety of devices should be on someone’s on-going task list.

3. Usability expectations and preferences change. Your constituents’ perceptions of what is modern, consumable and well presented change like their clothing styles. Like miniskirts and skinny ties, what was once deemed cool may cause a few eyerolls today. Your audience wants to see themselves reflected in the language you use, the stories you tell, the asks you present and, most important, how you present them all. Don’t think color matters? A digital marketer will give you an earful otherwise! And tools like HotJar and Digital Analytics will prove it to you with their A/B test results.

Remember, your audience is also judging to see if you seem trustworthy with their money. Not just in how you will use it, but in how you will collect it, too. That donation experience better be convenient, quick and secure or they’ll move on to the next organization faster than you can say “ApplePay.”

There’s a reason why site design is so important. User experience may have been a term coined in the 1990s by cognitive psychologist and designer Don Norman, but today it is such a cornerstone of all the things we interface with that the UX designer role comes in at No. 2, after digital product designer, as the most in-demand role for 2019 according to the Onward Search Digital, Creative and Marketing Professionals Salary Guide. Want to know more about the impact of design on effective website presences? Just ask my long-time friend and coworker Brenda Miele, who just completed yet another UX certification despite already having over 20 years of experience.

In case you didn’t notice, there’s a theme here: change. We’re all in the business of change. And in order to share the stats that astonish our minds, the images that move our hearts and the words that secure our faith in your mission, you need a constantly evolving digital presence that stands out in the crowd and offers an inviting vehicle for us to travel along with you on your impact journey. Like that monthly gym membership, it’s one investment worth making and acting on.

Learn about the new event site we created for Alzheimer’s Association