A user-friendly website that is constantly updated, utilizes online fundraising capabilities, and effectively communicates a mission is important for any business—and nonprofits are no different.
The ideal nonprofit website should provide a clear value proposition that speaks to a nonprofit’s audience, says Jann Mirchandani, owner of Westchester Marketing Café LLC, which recently completed two website upgrade and redesign projects for the local nonprofit organizations Humane Society of Westchester at New Rochelle (and the Alliance for Safe Kids (ASK), a youth and family support organization.
“Nonprofits are not unlike for-profit businesses when it comes to website optimization,” Mirchandani says. “It is important for an organization to understand its target audience, and in the case of nonprofits this usually includes both donors—individuals as well as foundations and endowments—and those they serve.”
Jann Mirchandani, owner, Westchester Marketing Café LLC
Email list management is another important aspect of an organization’s online communications, she notes; the key is that each sender not operate independently and manage separate lists, which increases the likelihood of subscribers getting too many emails and not getting removed properly when/if they opt out. Multiple lists, rather than an integrated strategy, also make tracking metrics difficult.
“When you have a team of people with varying needs for communicating with stakeholders, it’s really important to understand who everyone is communicating with; who are your subscribers, what groups and segments should they be organized into?” Mirchandani says.
Also crucial is making sure your site is mobile-friendly. “These days it’s super important to have a mobile-friendly website for a number of reasons,” Mirchandani says. “First and potentially most importantly, Google now gives priority to mobile-friendly websites. Mobile Internet access surpassed desktop usage last year and Google’s algorithms take that into account. In addition, you want mobile readers to have a positive experience; the page should load quickly without using a lot of data and be easy to navigate, including being able to read content without zooming in and out.”
And because nonprofts don’t typically have the deep pockets of a corporation, operating within budget is a common challenge. ASK stayed within its budget by teaching staff how to use WordPress, making the content editing easy and enabling Mirchandani’s team to focus on the more technical aspects of the project.
Here’s how Mirchandani put some of these strategies to work for The Humane Society and ASK:
• The website for Humane Society of Westchester at New Rochelle (formerly known as New Rochelle Humane Society) was rebranded with a new name, logo and color scheme to better reflect the services the animal rescue nonprofit provides to 19 communities in Westchester County.
• In addition to improved content management features that allow staff to make copy edits themselves, Mirchandani and her team of web designers added multiple online forms to collect volunteer applications, provide pre-adoption information and improve the ease of making online donations.
• The new ASK site was designed to better highlight important events by taking the large amount of information from a variety of sources on the old site and consolidating it. “There was a tremendous amount of content on their existing websites and deciding what needed to stay, what was going away, and what needed to be updated,” Mirchandani says. This required the ASK staff to audit the content and only include the most relevant information for their readers, which included events happening in the community and how to support youth within the community, and delete all irrelevant information.
• Mirchandani and her team also gave ASK the ability to take online donations, a capability that the nonprofit did not have on its old site, by partnering with a third party vendor.
As for results, the new Humane Society site is already generating positive results, Mirchandani reports: within three days of launching, the animal shelter received 40 pre-adoption applications, four reports of lost pets and five donations including a sponsorship for an animal in need.