Non-Profit Web Design and Internet Marketing

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"If you build it, they will come" is not necessarily true on the Web. Putting a non profit website up is one thing, but getting visitors to come to it is another. The process becomes even more difficult if you have limited resources to market your cause.

Nonprofit Internet Marketing Tips

Here are some shoestring marketing ideas that can help you get the visitors you need at the least cost possible:

1. Create the best content you can, showcasing the strongest services you can (or are currently) offering. Your content is your best advertisement – if visitors love your content, then they will go back and spread the word to others.

2. Make it easy for users to recommend your site. Viral marketing is very important — and easy to tap on the Web. But give your users the tools. Thanks to social media sites like Facebook, your visitors can share your mission with their networks. Be sure to include a "like" button or other "share this" buttons on your site. If only 10 people go to your site, but these 10 people invite 10 more – that’s additional traffic that you get for FREE!

3. Rank well in the search engines (organic search results, not the pay per click). Search engines can be a big source of traffic. The key is to create the best content in your niche. If you have good content, and a worthy cause, other websites will gladly link to you and offer your site as a resource to their audience. Check the on-page factors and be sure to get linked from authority sites in your topic area.

If you are going to read only one piece on nonprofit search engine optimization, I suggest you read Aaron Wall's Charity SEO Book available here

4. Send out press releases. If you subscribe to our nonprofit website package, an initial press release is included FREE. While outfits charge as much as $650 per release, there are free press release submission sites on the Web. Press releases allow you to (a) attract media attention; (b) get more back links to your website without sending each website an email request; and (c) get more visibility especially if your press release gets in Google News or Yahoo News.

5. Submit articles. Write articles and submit them to websites accepting author submissions. You get exposure for your nonprofit; it establishes you as an authority in your field, and allows you to get backlinks for your website.

6. Get sites where your target audience gathers to link to you. If you are a non profit working on the health insurance sector, make a list of websites focusing on health insurance and ask them to include you in their resource page. The more links you have, the more visibility you get and the higher your search engine rankings will be.

Everyday, more and more nonprofits look to the internet as a way to increase awareness about their cause, and more importantly, encourage donations.

According to a 2004 study by Kintera and Luth Research, more than 75 percent of donors who go online before making a donation noted that going online made some impact on their decision whether or not to give, and more than 25 percent say the impact was significant.

So, what are some of the things donors look for on your nonprofit website before they click the "donate" button? Here's a quick list of 5.

  • Mission - This is probably the first question that will pop into a donor's mind when they enter your website. Depending on where they found your link, they may/may not know what you do. Make it easy for them to find out. If your mission statement is not too long, place it at the same spot on every page. If it is, use a meaningful slogan instead. Example:

SAVES mission below their name

  • Credibility - There is no shortage of organizations claiming to do one social good or another. Donors want to know if you are credible and trustworthy. Provide a visible link to your "About Us" page, and make sure to include pertinent information that sets you apart. Do you have a parent organization? Board of Directors? 501c3 (tax deductible) status? List them here. If you have a verifiable status (such as BBB accreditation) be sure to include it here (and perhaps on every page).

Kids Meals BBB Seal

  • Testimonials - People love testimonials! They work for businesses and nonprofits. Do you have a "thank you" note or written account of the difference you're making? Leverage it.
  • Urgent Needs - This may seem redundant, but donors actually want to know what they are donating towards. They know your mission, but where is the money going? For most people, a list of urgent needs or upcoming/on-going projects will do the trick.
  • Donate Button - Another seemingly redundant one, but they can't donate if they can't find the button. Make it nice and attractive, and if possible, place it at the same spot on every page.

Have any more to add to the list? comment below.

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