Why an unhealthy website means less funding and wasted resources
At the end of the day, when running an organization, be it a large corporation or a nonprofit, it always comes down to money. I’m not saying that money is the most important thing in life, or the most rewarding, but as David DeMambro writes in his recent HubSpot Blog post “How to Stretch Your Nonprofit’s Marketing Resources:”
Running a marketing team at a nonprofit is tough because you’re dealing with two of the toughest challenges to tackle: achieving big goals and operating on a shoestring budget.
So, while your life might not revolve around the almighty dollar when you’re working at a nonprofit, or really any organization, it does come down to the funds available. This is where my view differs slightly from DeMambro who also notes that “nonprofits … are, by definition, not structured around ROI.” DeMambro has a point, but it seems to me that ROI (Return on Investment) is even more important when you’re working with a limited budget.
The less money you have, the more important it is that you spend it on something that is going to last, meet your needs, and grow with you as your organization’s needs change.
At least that’s what I remind myself every time I buy a cheap pair of shoes only to have to go out and buy another pair in two weeks. But, this post isn’t about my fashion pains so I’ll spare you the agony.
As a consumer, a former student, post-secondary employee, and currently an employee at a web development organization, there are three things that make me want to hurl my computer or smartphone (whatever electronic device is unfortunate enough to be showing me the infuriating website) out the window and then stomp on it, forcefully, possibly using a sledgehammer for help:
- Sites that don’t make sense: you know, the site you click on because you’re excited about the content, only to find that you are more confused about what the organization does and why it matters to you after you get on the site.
- Sites that don’t work: you know, the site that doesn’t let you go anywhere. It’s slow, unresponsive, and full of faulty links. ARGH!
- Sites and pages you can’t find: you know, the one site you know exists but can’t find after 10 google searches. Or, even worse (!) there are those times when you know where the site is, you know it has the information you need, but you just can’t find it!
In the Convince and Convert blog post “11 Reasons Why Prospects Don’t Convert Into Customers,” Barry Feldman states that “conversion aversion” “is probably the web’s leading contributor to back-buttonitis.” What does this mean in plain English? Well, it means that when customers, potential donors, and volunteers get to your site, they either a.) have to go through a ton of work to fill out of a form, or, b.) don’t know what they are supposed to do when they get on the site because it isn’t easy for them.
Feldman’s list goes on, but it all boils down to this: if your target audience can't find or get to what they’re looking for, they are going to leave without giving you what you want. This is a prime example of a lose, lose situation. They are unsatisfied and you are unsatisfied.
<span style="font-size:9px;">Photo Credit - <a href="http://simonbyrnephotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/disappointed-monkey-jogokudani-japan.jpg">http://simonbyrnephotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/disappointed-monkey-jogokudani-japan.jpg</a></span>
4 signs that your nonprofit website is underperforming:
Count how many calls you get on a weekly basis asking for information you know is on the website. If you get a lot, your website probably needs some tweaking.
Track how long people stay on your website before leaving. If it’s a page you want them to read, and they leave in under a minute, there is probably something wrong. If they go through a bunch of pages in a very short amount of time, they probably can’t find what they’re looking for.
Pay attention to how long people are spending on your search bar. If website users spend more time in your search bar then they do anywhere else on the site, you might need to make some change
Is there an easy way for your clients to get from point A to point C, or does your audience have to search? Similar to the point above, if there is no clear path from point A to point C, and your audience has to search, you might need to rework your strategy.
In short, if you get almost no donors or volunteers through your website, it’s not working and you’re wasting your resources!
I know what you’re about to say, websites and social media are overrated. They don’t work, even you just said it’s a waste of resources. Why would I waste resources I don’t have?
If you have a website that is not thought through, miss-managed, and full of broken links and internal bugs (ask your developer, they’ll know what we mean here), it’s a waste of your time and resources. You’re spending your limited manpower, time, and money on something that doesn’t work, no matter how many times you duct tape it. You’re at that point when it costs more money to fix your car (only to have it break again in 3 months) than to buy a new or lightly used one.
The trick, is to figure out how you can get your website to actually help you get more of what you need - personnel, time, and money.
Feeling skeptical? I’m not surprised. Anyone that’s ever visited or worked with a website or CMS (Content Management System - that thing you type into to update your website) has felt the frustration of what I’ll affectionately call “the lost cause website". And, even if you’re convinced, your management and executive teams might not be.
And that’s ok. Our job is to show you and your team members how your website can help you gain valuable resources and not deplete them:
Haven't found what you're looking for yet? Send me an email, and I'll do my best to answer your question and/or write a blog on the topic! I'm always available at [email protected]
Psst, if you're in charge of your website, and you've committed to making that site a source of valued information that spurs visitors to positive action, download the Nonprofit's Guide to Planning a Website. You'll (re)discover your website as an invaluable tool for building authentic and (dare I say) valuable relationships with your donors and your community as a whole.