So, you’ve decided to go ahead and create a fundraising website for your group? Once you’ve selected a domain and a host and set up your site (see Create A Website), you’re ready to add content. At the very least your fundraising site should have the following:
Your site should have a blog
A blog will allow you to easily add information to the site, regarding your group, your fundraising efforts, your sponsors etc. Blogging software is free (most popular is WordPress), easy to learn and will allow you to create separate accounts for members in your group. Having a blog also allows you to keep all your updates well organized and uncluttered.
Your site should also have:
An ‘About’ page
The ‘About’ page on your website should include information about your organization, its mission and accomplishments.
A ‘Contact’ page
A contact page that includes a form instead of simply an e-mail address is also essential. Not displaying your e-mail address will prevent spam in your inbox and having a form will allow you to collect specific information you’d like to have from people who contact you. There are free contact form plugins available if you’ve installed a WordPress blog.
A clear call-to-action for help or donations
This seems obvious, yet some groups still do not have a clear call for donations on their sites. It’s a fundraising website, don’t hold back – people want to help a good cause! Make it easy for people to give. If you choose to add a “Donate” button to your site, we recommend that you get legal advice before doing so. (See article about donate buttons and the State of Florida.)
It may be easier to simply sign up with a site that will manage your online donations for you.
In any case, make it easy for visitors to your site to give to your cause by placing a button or a link to a page or site with information on how to do so. A 2008 donorCentrics Internet Giving Benchmarking Analysis stated that on 17% of the fundraising sites tested, users couldn’t find where to make a donation! For more information about online donations and tweaking your website, visit Fundraising Website Checkup.
Lots of pictures
A picture tells a thousand words. Regularly include pictures in your posts and updates from your group, your fundraising drives, volunteers and beneficiaries (with permission only of course), key people in your group and so on. If you subscribe to a photo sharing site like flickr.com, include a link to it in the sidebar, or add a widget that continuously shows your photostream. Update pictures regularly, so that people keep checking the site to see new pictures and stay updated with your cause.
The only thing better than pictures, is moving pictures. If you’ll be raising funds for a brief time or more than a few months, it might be very useful to make a short (2-3 minute) video to put up on your website. The video can introduce your cause, present your accomplishments and your needs and introduce key people in your group. With most hosting services, you can upload the video directly to your site; or, you can upload it to YouTube and put a link to it on your site. Regularly adding short videos about special events, speeches or talks by key people in your group would also be a great addition to your site.
Finally, since online fundraising is a relatively new, the laws governing it are sometimes cloudy and are still changing. You may want to check with other non-profits in your state as to how they have proceeded, but we recommend to also get legal advice before soliciting funds directly online.