Email Fundraising

It probably is pretty safe to assume that E-Mail Fundraising is not a flash in the pan, but, rather, will be a major weapon in the arsenal of every email marketing firm in the nation for ad infinitum.  Scattered across the world wide web is tidbits of information and suggestions posted by various e-mail marketing experts meant to help give a better understanding of email marketing.  While each and everyone may be valuable, it could be painstakingly difficult to fetter them out and paint a picture with a broad enough scope to actually let you know how to attain success in this realm.  That’s why, as successful email marketing professional, I thought it would be prudent to take time to share a plethora of suggestions that have helped Pathmaker Marketing, LLC in their quest of becoming a successful professional e-mail marketing firm in the realm of e-fundraising.  So, below is a comprehensive “what to do” guide for enjoying E-mail Fundraising success.

1.    TEST - TEST - TEST - Constantly.  In email fundraising there are some variables that you can control and some that you can’t.  What you can control is when you send and how you design your emails and how you design your Landing Pages.  What you can’t control is what’s happening in the news and how people feel about the economy.  As a result, you want to make sure that you are using your very best efforts in the areas you do control in your quest for funds.

            One thing you will want to do is run “split tests” - double, triple, or quadruple splits.  You should run these on your creatives, as different versions can have different texts and/or graphics.  You test to see what is working this month or week, and by testing you mitigate against ineffective efforts.  Multiple versions of your email will enhance your chance for success, and serves as a bit of insurance.

WHEN YOU SPLIT TEST BE SURE YOU CAN TRACK RESULTS SEPERATELY. You must be able to tell how much money each email raised separately.

2.    BUILD YOUR INTERNAL FILES - Understandably, your donor file will always give you the most return on any given e-mail.  Next would be your internal prospecting file and finally any external prospecting file.  As a point of clarification, the internal prospecting file are those people who have shown an interest in your organization but have not donated and, as one would expect, are more apt to give than any external list.  In other words, the “priority order” is to solicit those who have given before, those who have shown an interest in you, and lastly strangers.

3.    GET A DECENT ESP - To conduct an E-mail Fundraising campaign you must have an Email Service Provider (ESP).  Basically, there are three types - Entry Level, Intermediate, and Advanced.  There are a variety of things that will differentiate ESPs.  One is the size of your list.  Another consideration is the “billing” process.  Typically, for Intermediate and Advanced ESPs billing is “volume based,” while for the Entry Level ESPs it is “file size” based.  Functionality is another determining factor:  The more advanced the greater the number of functions - especially in the realms of integration and reports.  As can be expected, the more advanced your ESP the more expensive it will be. 

            An example of an entry level ESP is iContact, and will usually be used when your mailing list is 10,000 or less.  Bronto would be a middle level ESP, and is for the organization whose list is 10,000 - 100,000.  An advanced ESP is for lists of 100,000+, and a good example of this would be Exec Target.

4.    NO CSS WHEN CODING E-MAIL IN HTML - What is often overlooked is the fact that that if you use CSS it will be stripped by many email clients.  For example, G-mail, Hotmail, Yahoo, and MacMail all tend to strip out CSS.  If your email is driven by your custom style sheet and it gets deleted by the email client you will have a problem.  Your email might show up looking fine, or it might look like garbage.  As a result, you would be better off using “old school” HTML 101 table formats.

5.    DESIGN AND CODE TO 600 PIXELS WIDE - At that width your e-mail will render okay in a number of environments, such as PC, iPad and mobile phones.  If you code to wider you will force people to sideward scroll, which some may consider too much work!

6.    PUT MORE EFFORT INTO YOUR LANDING PAGES THAN YOUR E-MAIL ‘CAUSE YOU CAN'T’ TRANSACT ANY BUSINESS IN AN E-MAIL - Remember, no matter how good your email is you can’t take a credit card with it!  If your landing page is “broken,” the whole process is broken.  The e-mail is what “hooks” people, but the landing page is what will “seal the deal.”  Like a good salesman, your landing page is your “closer.”

7.    UTULIZE E-MAIL FUNDRAISING STRATEGIES - Any successful endeavor is the result of developing and implementing specific strategies, and e-mail fundraising is no exception.  Below is a list of strategies that you should plan on employing:

  • E-mails tied to current events
  • Monthly “themed” Email Campaigns
  • Direct Mail/E-mail Combo
  • Media/E-mail Combo
  • “Stand Alone” E-mail Fundraising Campaign

 8.    E-MAIL CAN WORK WITH DIRECT MAILSend your Direct Mail offer first.  Then, send an email with the same offer seven to ten days later.  This over-all combination will give you lift, as the email will remind people of the mailer they received.

9.    ADD “READ MORE” LINKS INTO YOUR COPY - Writing an e-mail fundraiser piece is a little different than writing a direct mailer piece.  In the former you might stop a thought in mid-paragraph and put in a “read more,” having your email serve as somewhat of a “teaser.”

10.  STUDY THIS HEURISTIC TO LEARN A SIGNIFICANT LESSON FROM E-MAIL EXPERT FLINT McGOUGHLIN

eMe = rv(o+i ) - (f+a)

The effectiveness of your Message = relevance of your offer (offer + incentive) less (friction + anxiety)

In essence, this is saying that the advantages of your offer and incentive needs to outweigh the recipient’s reluctance to reply positively to your offer, plus the anxiety he might feel in doing so.   “Friction” deals with the ease of your check out procedure.  Asking for as little information as is necessary, and keeping the checkout process as short as possible can minimize it.  Said simply, “Anxiety” is the general reluctance someone might have in doing business on the Internet. 

11.  USE THIS FINAL CHECKLIST BEFORE YOU HIT “SEND”

Ask Did my test e-mail:

  • Allow me to go through checkout
  • Have a subject line with no issues
  • Have working links
  • Display Properly
  • Have contact’s name, address and telephone number

Email FundraisingOne of the most frustrating, and on-going challenges for churches, para church ministries and non-profit organizations is fundraising.  There are of course, some “tried and true” methods, but everyone is always looking for new ways to accomplish this goal. Technology is opening some new doors, and one of those is email fundraising.

Pathmaker Marketing, LLC, an E-mail Marketing Firm, has been most successful in assisting their clients with e-mail fundraising. Truly E-Mail Marketing Specialists, they know that there are several things to keep in mind when you begin your email fundraising campaign.

First, you need to use your common sense.  You are, after all, raising money for a cause.  As a result, you are going to be most successful when you contact individuals who are already supporters of that cause.  Here, you do want to “preach to the choir.”  Your goal is not to solicit new supporters.  As a result, you will want to use your current database of supporters.  Again, this is not a “prospecting tool”!

You also need to consider that this program works best when it is part of an over-all communications strategy.  This includes utilizing the mail, phone, and “in person” contacts.  These all have their own individual strengths and, when combined with your e-mail campaign, will result in you being most effective.

As any Professional E-Mail Marketing Service will tell you, email has its own set of metrics.  First of all, you need to keep in mind that e-mail is always lower than direct mail.  It is, however, still profitable as there are no printing or postage charges.  Too, seldom will an email campaign yield “monster” gifts, as the largest we have seen were between $1000 - $2000 each.  Keeping this all in mind should allow you to ensure that your expectations are within the parameters of not only possibility but probability, allowing you to view the results with realistic insight.

Just as in any mode of fundraising, you must remember that “people give to people” more than organizations.  As a result, you want your e-mail to come from your chief fundraiser, such as your CEO or pastor.  Have the email look like a letter and be personalized.  “Dear Fred” goes a lot farther than “Dear Friend.” 

To “enhance the chance” of filling your coffers via an email campaign, you need a substantial e-mail list.  As a result, you may need to go an E-Mail Marketing Company and spend some money to help bolster your list.  Do know that a really small list can be cost prohibitive for using HTML, and you may want to employ TEXT as a result.


interenet business marketing promotion

Email fundraising is not something that only the professional fundraisers can do to raise funds. Even a newbie fundraiser can do such if he/she knows the secrets of this campaign. Just like any Internet business marketing promotion, targeting a hungry niche is of topmost importance otherwise, you will be wasting your time because all your mails will be instantly deleted. Here are some tips:

 1. Customize your email  - Do not send a “one-size-fits-all” email to all your targets. This is an instant turn off because people will just know it when the mail is not really for them. Take your time to create a customized email for the specific niche that you are sending it to. Generic email is a sign that you are being lazy and believe me, people can sense it.

 2. List quality is very important - It is common knowledge among professional fundraisers that paid addresses will always perform less than those gathered organically (e.g., if the donor gave you’re their email address). Although it’s not a totally bad idea to have paid addresses, you should make it your aim to have more organic addresses than paid ones.

 3. Don’t overlook your landing page - It is often said in SEO communities that you have to treat all parts of your website as a landing page because you don’t know where a prospect will land when following a link. You can bring a visitor to your site but if it is not optimized to convert them to donate, you will be missing a lot of opportunities there.

 4. Don’t just ask for money - Again this is an automatic turn off. People will not just give their money without knowing the value of what you are trying to do. Before you send a solicitation email, make sure that you already have sent at least two that tells a compelling success story, something that recognizes the donors and volunteers and similar things.

 5. Personalize your email - With all the information available online, there is no reason that your donor should receive a “Dear Donor” type of mail. Generic or a one-size-fits-all kind of mail will easily find its way to the recycle bin and that is why you need to personalize it. Put the name of the donor in your opening remarks and it is even better if you can tailor the asked amounts based on the giving history of each of your donor.

 If you are trying to win a non-supporter, send a customized email designed to welcome them to your cause and to introduce them to your core programs. This can be accomplished through compelling story contents which will convert them to donors in no time.

 Email fundraising has its own downside but following the tips provided above will greatly improve your batting average and of course, donations will increase too. Although email fundraising is not rocket science, you don’t have to take it lightly to the point that nobody believes you at all.


     For those whose intentions are to use their blogging efforts in a productive manner to gain themselves significant page rankings in Google, Yahoo or Bing, and thereby make their blogging a viable marketing tool, serious consideration needs to be given to Compendium.  While it is not the only blogging system available today, it is, by far and away, in my opinion, the best blogging system available for “bloggers” who want to be serious marketers.

     To make such a bold statement one needs to be able to support it, and there are three major benefits that give credulity to my claim.  First, and perhaps foremost, Compendium helps me target winnable keywords. 

     To explain this, let me use the illustration of the lemon tree in my backyard.  Typically, my large lemon tree has three “levels” of fruit:  Those which are on the low hanging branches and are easily picked; those on the middle branches, which I might be able to attain but it will take some more effort; and those on the very top branches which are, for all intent and purposes, unattainable.  Applying this to winnable keywords, we find that some terms are going to be easy to win; some are, perhaps, winnable with more effort, and some you probably will never be able to win.  Compendium helps you to determine which keywords are easy picking, so your blog postings revolve around terms that will get you page one rankings and top 50 rankings, both on your target terms and long-tail variations of those terms.

     To punctuate this point, recognize that Google is preferential to ranking terms based on depth of content, so you need to choose those keyword phrases that have not already had an “encyclopedia” written about them.  A good example of this might be “email fundraising” vs. “ephilanthropy.”  While you might prefer to use the more common of the terms, so does everyone else.  Therefore, the former might be unattainable where the latter is readily within your reach and grasp.  Whe you are targeting keywords. pursue the winnable terms first.

     From the blog posting side of this coin, since depth of content is a paramount concern to the search engines, you should be prepared in the long run to write 50 – 200 posts on the terms for which you are targeting keywords. 

      Secondly, Compendium gets me page rankings on my search terms.  A major goal of any business is to have a prospective client go on the internet, run a keyword search (on something other than your company name), and have the name of your business pop up, preferably in the number one slot, but at least somewhere on the first page.  Getting these page one rankings is what will drive those prospective clients to you, and allow you to convert them from “prospective” to “first time” client. 

    
The Compendium system excels at this by automatically search engine optimizing each blog post domain and page construction, and guiding you in real time to optimize your post content too. You won’t get that advantage from any free blogging service out there. This auto SEO step equips your blog to be truly optimal before Google, Yahoo and Bing, so that you get you the page rankings you so eagerly want to achieve. To do this in another blogging service, you would have to manually SEO each post, or hire an SEO specialist to do that for you.

     In our current economic environment, you want a system that will save you both time and money in your quest for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  These are additional advantages that Compendium offers.  Compendium has a tool that will help you optimize every blog post before it goes live.

     When looking for competitive blog services to Compendium, the one most often mentioned is WordPress, a system that can be accessed and utilized at no expense to the user.  The fact that WordPress is free can be a little misleading.  If your intent is to use your blog for internet marketing purposes, WordPress can cost you far more to Search Engine Optimize your posts to get the page rankings, than the expense of using Compendium. All things considered, Compendium saves me time and money over other options.

     The best way to compare Compendium and WordPress is, perhaps, in the form of a chart.  Below I have constructed a table that will allow us to do just that:

COMPARISON ITEMS

Compendium

WordPress

Optimizes Your Blog Post Domains.

Yes

Yes

Optimizes Your Blog Page Construction

Yes

Yes

Automatically Optimizes Your Blog Post Content

Yes

No

Automatically Compends Your Blog Post Content into Keyword Blogs

 

Yes

 

No

Organizes Your Post Content by Keyword

Yes

No

Allows for Unlimited User Blogs

Yes

No

Allows for Dynamic Calls to Action Headers, Ads

Yes

No

Provides Weekly Metrics

Yes

Yes

RSS Feeds into Your Social Networks

Yes

Yes

Provides Strategic Research to Identify Winnable Keywords

Yes

No

      As you can see, Compendium is superior to WordPress in a plethora of ways - - all of which are important to the dedicated internet marketer.  Compendium is, after all, a premier blogging service that is guided, directed, blogging for the purpose of winning page rankings on your keywords! For more intel, call Randall Mains at Pathmaker Marketing.

 


      Blogging is a wonderful way to impart pertinent information to the rest of the world.  And, as a result, many people are taking advantage of this avenue of expression.  If you are in business, however, and you want to let your blog “work” for you, you probably need to adhere to a different set of “rules” than the individual who is simply blogging as a hobby, to vent frustration,  or to seek an audience to pontificate to.  For the sake of this article, let’s refer to the business blogger as a “Professional Blogger,” and the casual blogger as a “Social Blogger.”

    The Social Blogger, typically, is mostly blogging for fun.  As a result, they blog when they have a few extra minutes or when they get around to it, and they blog about a myriad of topics.  One day they may write about the wonderful new restaurant they ate at the night before, and three days later they might vent about how poorly their favorite baseball team is doing.  They will discuss the high price of gas, or how they have begun their Christmas shopping earlier this year.  While their thoughts and approach might be very focused, even profound,  in each individual blog, they tend to take a “shotgun” approach where their choice of topics is concerned - - spreading a wide range of thoughts to their reading public.

    The Professional Blogger, on the other hand, can’t pursue such a haphazard approach to their blogging - - or at least they shouldn’t.  Rather, the Professional Blogger needs to be blogging with a specific purpose in mind, always mindful of the fact that their blog site should strive for a depth of content in what they write.  Their blogging has to be intentionally focused on areas of expertise - - they must also purpose to provide a steady flow of content posts per week.  They must continually be adding quality content to their blog site, always bringing readers back for more.  They must not be lackadaisical about this - - they are using this as a major part of their marketing plan and therefore must attend to it religiously!

     The Professional Blogger needs to be targeting keywords that they want to win a Page One ranking on in Google, Yahoo or Bing.  Once these target terms are determined, they pursue these top page rankings by creating best in class content surrounding those keywords, and, as a result, they also establish themselves as an expert in their field.

     While it may seem easy to identify keywords you want to write about, the real trick is to isolate the “winnable” words or phrases, since what's most important is picking terms to blog about that both relate to your expertise, and have some capacity to win you a Page One Ranking. Page One rankings will get your blog qualified visitors, who may convert into names to your email list, qualified leads, product or service buyers, donors, etc.

     The subtlety of finding Internet success though, can find you, like the old TV character Maxwell Smart, “missing it by just that much.”  Let me give you an example.  

     Suppose you want to win a page one ranking for “e-mail fund raising,” You already have a wealth of knowledge on the subject, and have been most successful in helping clients with the endeavor.  You now, however, want to use the Internet to “recruit” new clients, and decide that blogging is the route to go.  So, you diligently begin adding appropriate keyword content to your blog and, lo and behold, nobody is beating down your door to have you help them.  The reason?   People are not searching on line for “e-mail fundraising,” they are searching for “ephilanthropy” - - by the millions!  

     Obviously, this scenario could be frustrating to the point of devastation!  To determine the keyword marketing terms to pursue, you can either hire a Premier Blogging Service firm such as Randall Mains company Pathmaker Marketing, or you need to invest hours, days, or possibly weeks to research them yourself, using Google’s Keyword Tool or something similar (To learn more about this, read my upcoming blog, How to do Strategic Keyword Marketing Research for Your Blog).  

    Determining your area of expertise should, at least theoretically, be a little easier.  However, you may want to take a broad term and “narrow down” your area of expertise.  Let’s use our example of “e-mail fundraising.”  Fundraising, obviously, is a term used by non-profit organizations.  Now, you may want to concentrate on e-mail fundraising for churches.  To be more specific, you may want to be an expert on e-mail fundraising for churches with under 500 members.  Once you make the determination of what you want your “niche” to be and you have accurately identified the marketing keywords you want to win pages for, you can begin to employ your blogs as a valuable sales tool! (Don’t miss my next blog, 5 Critical Steps to a Successful Blogging Initiative!)

     The bottom line is this: when blogging, be targeting keywords that you've thoroughly researched so that you know you can win page one rankings that will get you readers.  That process is called Keyword Marketing, and it can pay off in spades for you.

A virtual tour can be an interesting and valuable addition to your website, and if you do it properly, it can be a valuable part of your internet marketing ideas.

But if you’re thinking of adding a virtual tour to your non profit website design, you’ll need to take a number of issues into account before getting started.

1. What is the goal for your tour?
If your Internet marketing idea is to showcase your business, then you’ll want a lot of photos of your campus – this is a more informational type of tour. But if your Internet marketing idea is to tell the inspiring story of how your ministry, church or business started, you’ll want to have more drama in your tour – and this could add to the bandwidth as you include more sound effects and perhaps video.

As you begin to compile information for this particular Internet marketing idea, you’ll want to always keep your specific goal in mind and organize that information in the tour so that it will be easy to present and experience. And you’re going to want to focus on what makes your campus, business, product, etc., unique.

Whether you include a virtual tour in your website as an informational or inspirational Internet marketing idea, you’re going to need to provide a real guided tour – not just drop people off and make them find their own way around on their own. This brings up another point, some people will want to be dropped off and explore, meaning you're going to need a visible map so anyone can find their way around ... and include the words "Begin Here" in the map.

2. Who are you trying to reach?
If your non profit is a university primarily for people directly out of high school, this Internet marketing idea should showcase the sorts of things that appeal to younger people. But if you have a combination of younger students plus people coming back for some mid-career training to stay relevant, you may be talking about two different tours. You need to think this through so filming day takes the approach for the generation you’re attempting to reach, and you’ll want your script, and the narrator, to have the voice of the generation you’re trying to reach. Any information you provide is going to need to be relevant and interesting to your specific audience – from their point of view, not yours.

3. What kind of interactivity will your audience most appreciate?
Some people, especially younger people, want to be in control of their browsing experience. They’ll appreciate choices – where can they click to find out more information? Some older people may want the tour to completely load and allow them to sit back and watch with few needs on their part for making choices. Your tour should be more than QuickTime videos with some text. It should be a special production that integrates many different kinds of media – videos, text, maps, photos, etc.; but these should be done in a seamless way so the viewing experience is appropriate for the audience and flow well. And provide choices for people who want to sit back and watch your tour as well as those you want to get dropped off and do a more self-guided tour.

4. What kind of bandwidth will you be working with?
Your IT department will be very unhappy if a virtual tour suddenly goes online that you have not discussed with them because they have a specific amount of bandwidth to work with, and you need to make sure your project is going to be well served without taking from other functions of the server.

Pathmaker Marketing is a professional fundraising company that serves ministries, non profit organizations and a for profit businesses. We offer search engine optimization services, fundraising services, blogging services, business marketing promotion online, and many Internet marketing ideas. Give us a call at 623-322-3334 to see how we can assist you, whether with a virtual tour or any other kind of website design or online fundraising services.



If you’re a non profit or church who raises funds, then you need to include online fundraising in your marketing tool kit. And when you start doing that, you’ll want to consider the advantages of working with various fundraising companies. Just because you work with someone who has been managing your direct mail for the last several years doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for your email fundraising or search engine marketing efforts. You’ll want to look for Internet savvy fundraising companies for that.

When interviewing fundraising companies, here are some helpful questions you’ll want to ask.

What is your experience raising funds online? You’ll want to make sure they have several years of experience, but also be sure that they deliver good return on investment for their clients. Ask them for specific examples, and look for at least a 4:1 ROI for their current or past clients (not just a promise that they can do that for you).

What is your strategy for raising funds online? While strategies for individual tactics may vary, there is a general philosophy for fundraising that need to understand before choosing from your list of fundraising companies. How do they come up with each eAppeal strategy? How will you be involved? What is their eAppeal blasting schedule and strategy? How will they avoid colliding with direct mail strategies? How they make sure you’ll be able to see results from all online strategies? Make sure their strategies agree with your philosophies.

What is your experience in my industry? People surely can learn your industry, but it helps if they already offer experience specific to your industry. If you’re a Christian organization, it helps a lot for them to understand Christianity and the way Christians communicate.

What is your billing schedule and terms? Be sure you can afford their services and thoroughly understand the services you’ll get.

How do you resolve conflicts and disagreements? You don’t plan it, but disagreements occur. Go into it knowing how you’ll deal with them.

These basic questions may launch you into other discussions, but these will help you springboard into a thorough understanding of how various fundraising companies stack up against one another.

Pathmaker Marketing LLC is ready to help you raise funds online and would love to talk to you about how our strategies and experience fit with your organization. Visit our website or call us at 623-322-3334.


The professionals at Pathmaker Marketing live to assist our clients with their email fundraising.   We understand the delicate relationship between ministries and their donors, and we've learned the importance of selecting just the right words in every part of an email fundraising strategy.  We recommend that your words align not only with the brand identity of your organization, they must also communicate clearly to your constituents that you understand them.  Words and messaging can go a long way to show donors that you and they are on the same page. 

In his newest book, Axiom, Bill Hybels’ opening parry focuses on the importance of words.  He describes the angst he experiences as he seeks just the right word, phrase or tagline for a point in a sermon, conversation or campaign.  He goes into great detail to explain that when it comes to words, you have to get it right! 

The truth is, leaders rise and fall by the language they use.  Sometimes whole visions live or die on the basis of the words the leader chooses for articulating that vision.
--Bill Hybels, Founding Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church in Axiom:  Powerful Leadership Proverbs

Good email fundraising will show understanding and sensitivity to the values, priorities and lifestyle of donors--and you demonstrate this by the choice of words you use.  If you fail in this, you let down the very people whose support you are seeking to engender.  Answering the following questions will help you choose well in your messages to donors.

Reflect Your Donors' Values in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the key values of your constituents?  Do you know which things they hold dearest?  And why they are drawn to your organization?  Is there a values niche that you serve that is unique?  Do your messages communicate these values clearly?  Most Christian ministries work hard to show they are morally clean and untainted.  What other dearly-held values do your constituents have?  Patriotism? Social activism?  When it comes to your email fundraising, don’t waste words on things that are not valued by your donors. 

Reflect Your Donors' Priorities in Your Email Fundraising:  What are the highest priorities of your constituents?  Are they family-oriented?  Prayer warriors?  Ardent for missions?  Whatever their priorities, your words must communicate that you understand the priorities that guide their lives.

Show You Understand Your Donors' Lifestyles in Your Email Fundraising:  Do your donors tend to have active lifestyles?  Are they Internet savvy?  Tuned in to contemporary Christian music?  Are they pinching every penny, or do they have a little financial breathing room?  As you consider ways to use email for your fundraising efforts, you can reflect the lifestyle choices of your backers as you communicate with them, choosing words wisely.

The extra effort you put into choosing just the right words for every part of your email fundraising strategy will go a long way to show them that you understand them and their concerns.  This connection will strengthen their willingness to give.

 


After you’ve made your masterpiece of a website, the next thing to do is get people there. And then you’ll want to convert them to assets such as lists, leads, sales and donations. Business marketing promotion online consists of five basic elements. All require some level of online marketing expertise that professional fundraisers offer. One excellent online marketing professional and non profit consultant you may want to contact is Pathmaker Marketing LLC.

The five elements of a complete business marketing online promotion plan, particularly as it relates to search engine marketing, are outlined below.

Blogging to win organic search

Many people have blogs, but you need one that is a workhorse to help you achieve your business objectives. Pathmaker Marketing uses a Premier Blogging Service that leverages each of your blog posts into several others. It’s keyword-oriented, meaning you identify the keywords that best relate to what you do, whittle those down to the ones that will be the easiest to get you into a top 10 ranking in search engines, and then really focus on blog posts that use your keywords. The advantage of the tool Pathmaker Marketing uses is that it automatically posts to several of your keyword blogs, giving you more content in your blog and more links back to your website. This makes your site easier for search engines to find. No other blogging tool works as hard for you as this one.

Link Building

Getting websites to link back to yours is essential for getting search engines to list you in the top 10 results on keywords that relate to you. You want national links, authoritative links, "deep" links and local links. It’s a manual process of submitting your site to directories, getting yourself into sites like Wikipedia and finding other websites to link to you. Pathmaker Marketing offers fundraising services that will help you build your links efficiently.

Social & Professional Media

There’s more to having a social media account that works for you than simply opening up an account in Facebook, Linkedin or some other professional site. You need to open the account appropriately so you can develop business content and link backs to your website. If you don’t set it up right, you could get limited value from your social and professional networds. Once you have the account set up properly, then you can increase the number of links back to your website, and you can auto flow blog posts through these account. It all adds up to increased visibility.

Pay Per Click Advertising

This is a good way to jump start your website's traffic. You advertise on sites like Google using your keywords. You develop dedicated landing pages for these keyword ads so that people see the appropriate content when they click on a specific ad. Dedicated landing pages also help you measure how well your ad is working for you. And they give you a way to collect the information you need to build your email list and get sales or donations. You only pay for these ads when someone clicks on your ad.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

This involves having the right content on specific pages so that when someone does a search using one of your keywords, they get directed to your page. You should optimize many pages on your site using different keywords. Pathmaker Marketing uses a tool that helps measure how effective your content is for a specific keyword.

Call 623-322-3334 to schedule a free consultation with Pathmaker Marketing, or click here to visit the website.
 


Before I began working for a search engine optimization agency, I wasn’t really sure how to get qualified traffic to the non profit website for which I was responsible a few years ago. I’d heard larger organizations were raising significant funds online, and I could see that the site I managed was at least as professional looking as the others (albeit smaller), but the art and science of bringing qualified traffic to the site (and then converting them to assets) was a mystery to me.

If you’re in a similar situation, I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned while working in a search engine optimization agency.

First, remember that search engine optimization, or SEO as professional online fundraisers like to call it, is indeed both an art and a science. It isn’t enough to have a killer website design or to write witty and professional text. Search engines look for keywords for which people are searching, and you need to have those keywords in all the right places – not too many times and not too few times.

Just one example of a common mistake that a search engine optimization agency can help yo overcome is makng sure you don't put headlines into graphics. When you do, you’re giving up opportunities for your headlines to help get you into the top 10 listings for searches that apply to your content. Content trumps design when it comes to search engine optimization.

Pathmaker Marketing uses a tool for professional web developers to help clients analyze and impelment strategies that (1) identify the best keywords for your organization to target and (2) get those keywords into all the right places on your site so you show up in the top 10 results of searches in major search engines on those keywords.

But that’s only one of the ways a search engine optimization agency can help your non profit website. SEO should be part of an overall Search Engine Marketing strategy that includes optimizing the site, developing a targeted-keyword blog, building strategic links to and from your site, strategically using social media accounts and and implementing a pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaign.

You can call Pathmaker Marketing at 623-233-3334 to schedule an appointment to discuss how a search engine optimization agency can get your non profit website consistently into the top 10 results for searches on keywords that apply to you – thus turning your site into a much more significant player in your overall fundraising efforts.


As professional fundraisers, we seek to connect donors with ministries that satisfy their need to give to people, causes and organizations.

Nine years ago, I stumbled in to the arena of Christian marketing and fundraising for nonprofits when I took a job with a Christian marketing and fundraising agency.  Active in ministry my entire adult life, I was looking to supplement our income as my firstborn launched to private Christian college.  This new job presented me with a steep learning curve, new vocabulary and challenging tasks.  I quickly found, however, that the things we were doing for our clients as a fundraising company were not that different from what I’d been doing for years throughout church and para-church involvement. 
 
 I began my career as a professional fundraiser decades ago when I joined the staff of Youth for Christ and was immediately responsible for raising 100% of my salary, expenses and benefits.  The need for a regular paycheck will make a willing professional fundraiser out of the most reluctant letter writer!  

I quickly learned what any good fundraising company will teach—that folks love to give to people, causes and organizations that are important to them.  In my case, the person, Meagan Gillan, was the appeal for one segment of donors.  These people would probably have supported me if I was hand-raising panda bear cubs in the Chinese rainforest.  They were behind me and wanted to let me know as much with their gifts and support.  

For another group, the gifts and donations were targeted at a cause—ministry to a cottage of juvenile delinquent girls in a locked state institution.  For a variety of reasons, their heartstrings were pulled when they learned of the plight of these girls who, though guilty of bad choices, were victims of bad family situations, bad economics and other circumstances beyond their control.  These donors wanted to help girls know Jesus and gain skills that would help them when they were released from the institution.  

A third group gave because they believed in and wanted to be associated with the organization.  Youth for Christ had already piled up decades of relevant, Gospel-focused ministry to millions of youth.  These givers were glad that I was serving a particular group of girls in a specific institution, but they were particularly pleased (and willing to give) because they knew and loved the organization with which I served.  Trust was a given.  

That innocuous beginning has led to a lifetime of helping people live in to their God-ordained need to give.  I’ve had up-close experience with several fundraising companies, and remain in awe, with many fundraising professionals, of the extraordinary faithfulness of the family of God as they pump billions of dollars of charitable giving into the human efforts that advance God’s Kingdom on earth.  It never ceases to amaze me.  


Link relevant content to search-centric promotion.

The reality of communicating with people online, and particularly via email fundraising, is that you have to constantly collect new email addresses. The typical growth rate in 2008 for any ministry list was 25% per year, which was comprised of 5% new names, less 3% name loss to unsubscriptions and bounces (mostly bounces). Said differently, if you’re not prospecting for new names constantly you can expect to see a 3% per month attrition in your email lists. Since people will move on for one reason or another, you need to replace them with new friends.

How to do this? Populate your website with relevant content that’s consistent with search-centric promotions that you conduct online. Relevance is key. If someone is searching the Internet for a church in Dallas, and you are one, that’s relevant. But if you’re a homeless shelter in New York or Dallas, that is NOT relevant. You need to start by targeting keywords: determine the Internet search streams that are relevant to what you offer, and then optimize your site to those searches via your site content and code. That way, your website is more likely to pop up in a Google search and get you qualified traffic from people who are looking for what you have to offer. That also means you must regularly update your website to relate to changes in relevant search terms.  You might call this keyword marekting.

Practical Tip: Search engine optimize your site.
So let’s talk about optimizing your website so that you can be easily found when someone looks up terms relevant to you on Google, Yahoo, Bing, or other search engines.

If someone searches a topic such as “how to help a troubled teen,” your site can get listed in the results. But unless it’s in the top 10 results, or on the first page, it probably won’t get many visitors from those search results. There’s a whole science to getting your site listed at the top, which again is too detailed to go into here, but the basic process—known as keyword marketing via serach engine optimization—is something you should know. It involves finding the search terms related to your ministry, including those search terms in relevant content on your site, optimizing your site copy and code for the search engines, and finally submitting your site to the search engines. In most cases, this core process will result in you getting ranked higher in the results, thereby driving more qualfied search traffic to your website.

Here are some examples of what organic search term results look like:

Google: How to Help a Troubled Teen


Yahoo: How to Help a Troubled Teen


Bing: How to help a Troubled Teen


Google and Wordtracker offer free keyword online marketing tools for finding common search terms:


You can input your own keywords to see how many people are searching those terms. Don’t get tempted to expand your terms if you see people searching on a topic that doesn’t relate to your primary goal – instead, stick to what you know, and your outreach ideas will be the most effective. You won’t be sorry if you put your effort into thinking up and searching for the search terms people are looking for that relate most directly to your ministry.

What do you have within your organization relevant to what people are searching for that you can develop and put online? This is a new level of site content depth – deepening the relevance of what you’re saying overall. You may have a particular niche – maybe issues related to teens, or matters of the heart for women, or guy stuff. By deepening your content in these areas, you establish a deeper focus that is really relevant in a particular area, and then you develop it and make it search-centric.

For example, you might learn that a lot of people are searching for “war in Iraq.” If your ministry doesn’t have anything relevant on this subject, you wouldn’t want to develop it just because someone’s searching for it. On the other hand, when The Presidential Prayer Team learned that many people were searching for “soldier’s prayer” because of the war, PPT developed a printed version of a soldier’s prayer, entered into a pay-per-click advertising agreement with Yahoo and Google, and then, when people clicked to the site to get the soldier’s prayer, asked them to adopt a soldier to pray for. Visitors also could sign up for the Adopt Our Troops e-newsletter. The strategy did a great job of building their Adopt Our Troops email list.

If people find your site through a search, they will quickly leave if they don’t think the content applies to their needs. To have a better chance of helping them see your site’s relevance, avoid the common mistake of talking too much about your needs, such as ushers and gifts. Visitors want information that addresses their search needs, and that’s what you should give them.

Once you’ve learned how to get listed in the search results, your qualified site traffic will take off, giving you plenty of new friends to build relationships with. So, optimize your pages so people can find you through search engines, and then make sure your pages are relevant to those search terms. If you need assistance, Pathmaker Marketing provides search engine optimization services that will help your website rise in the search rankings.
 


I wanted to present you with a GENERAL analysis of one client's current email fundraising results to assess the effectiveness of remarketing splits and reblasting to non-openers.

I'll present a fuller analysis later after I analyze every single motive code.

In this case a three-way Split Test was developed (three different creatives) and run out to three 7% random samplings of the master file (no overlapping names).  The strategy was short cause email to long cause landing page (A), long cause email to short cause landing page (B), and short premium offer to short premium landing page - no cause (C). The blasting process then unfolded as shown below:

June 18 Split Test (A,B,C) = 36 gifts for $2897 from June 18-21.
A had 11.6% Opens, 22% Clicks, 6% gift conversions fo 14 for $1,150 total
B had 11.2% Opens, 10.5% Clicks, 12.6% gift conversions of 13 for $1,555 total
C had 9.9% Opens, 19% Clicks, 7.7% gift conversions of 12 for $680 total
Based of these numbers we executed the following schedule of blasts:

June 22 Full Blast to B = 114 gifts for $8905 from June 22-23
June 24 Re-blast of B to Non-opens = 68 gifts for $4615 from June 24-28
June 29 Full Blast to A = 86 gifts for $6444
July 1 Re-blast of A to Non-opens = 75 gifts for $5503

Total Campaign (gifts still coming in) = 379 gifts for $28,364

Many of the details and nuances I have excluded from this post in order to display these general results that convey various blasting points re: fundraising for non profits.

Ranked by dollars given
$8905 from "winning" B Full Blast (114 gifts)
$6444 from "losing" A Full Blast (86 gifts)
$5503 from "losing" A Re-blast to Non-opens (75 gifts)
$4615 from "winning" B Re-blast to Non-opens (68 gifts)

Analysis of "Winning" version vs "Losing" version blasting
"Winning" B version of the eappeal: $13,520 from 182 gifts
"Losing" A version of the eappeal: $11,947 from 161 gifts

Remember, this is a first blush analysis, but it illustrates the point in general WHY it's often meritorious to send both split test versions of your email fundraising efforts. If we had NOT sent the "LOSING" version, we would have FORGONE $12,000 in income from 161 givers.

Analysis of First Blast vs Re-blasts to Non-opens
First Blasts = $15,349 from 200 gifts
Re-blasts to Non-opens = $10,118 from 143 gifts

Same disclaimer here, but it illustrates the point WHY it's often meritorious to send to non-openers. If we had NOT sent to Non-opens we would have FORGONE $10,000 in income from 143 givers.

Crazy idea:
If we HAD NOT SENT the "LOSING" version NOR SENT to Non-opens, we would have RAISED $11,802 from 150 givers and FORGONE $16,562 from 229 givers.

These are real time online fund raising results that have occurred during June 2009, also showing that despite the rotten economy, the right offer at the right time with the right executional effort can yield some very substantial results.

If you'd like some help to implement a plan like this, contact Pathmaker Marketing today at 623-322-3334 and we'll do our best to help your not for profit organizations.
 


I use ExactTarget to provide fundraising services for clients of ours. Exact Target is really are at the apex of the email blasting tool industry.  But recently I had to question the wisdom that the ET representative passed along to my client about email fundraising.

The ExactTarget representative told my client that similar "emails have been sent multiple times to the same subscribers, which is not considered a best practice. If a subscriber did not open an email to begin with, they probably won’t open the same email if they receive it again—most often they will just hit the spam button or unsubscribe."

I looked at the data sheet of metrics the ET rep was using to make her claim: 10 months of eappeal results from January 2008 to October 2008, including instances where similar emails were resent to non-openers or to openers but not clickers or to clickers but not givers. The ET data showed the complaint rates to have been running at .08% over 10 months and 66 different emails. The unsubscription rates hovered at .15% over the same period. In essence, the combined spam complaint and unsub rate for this client was .23%.

Said differently, 99.77% of all their email receipients DID NOT hit the report spam button or unsubscribe, despite various instances where similar emails were resent to sub-groups like non-openers, or non clickers.

By way of contrast, the income generated from these results indicated the efforts were worthy attempts to generate additional income from the same email.  The dollars generated justified judicious targeting of specific subgroups, especially when your email creative work is all done and in the bag.

Lesson learned: A superior email blasting tool doesn't always come with superior advice. Use your common sense when evaluating various blast strategies that could improve your email fundraising results. Get different opinions, then evaluate the data to determine what makes sense for your organization.  But don't assume that the advanced tool always come with advanced advice.

To reach a professional fundraising company like Pathmaker Marketing, visit us online or call us by telephone at 1-623-322-3334.
 


I still find non profit organizations that are apprehensive about email fundraising.
It seems like their concerns sometimes hover around issues like: "Will email cannibalize their snail mail results?" or maybe even more fundamentally, "Will people react negatively to solicitations?" from their non profit through email.

To address this issue I want to share a recent client Case Study from Pathmaker Marketing. Before April 2008, this client had not been doing any email fundraising. They agreed to let Pathmaker start a monthly email fundraising effort on their behalf that was tied to their monthly snail mail fundraising efforts.

After doing an initial Verify My Email campaign, their email list netted out to 20,000 deliverable names.

Here are the results from our last 13 eAppeals for them:

Thirteen-month Summary:
1,816 gifts = $190,887 gross income generated
(Averages: 140 gifts for $14,683)


Month-by-month eAppeal Income Summary:
13. April eAppeal: 118 gifts = $10,305
12. March eAppeal: 91 gifts = $11,813
11. February eAppeal: 69 gifts = $13,184
10. January 09 eAppeal; 88 gifts = $9,521
  9. December eAppeal: 122 gifts = $23,833
  8. November eAppeal: 161 gifts = $16,950
  7. October eAppeal: 106 gifts = $6,853
  6. September eAppeal: 231 gifts = $17,828
  5. August eAppeal: 199 gifts = $28,550
  4. July eAppeal:  112 gifts = $18,500
  3. June eAppeal: 139 gifts = $10,450
  2. May eAppeal: 138 gifts = $12,528
  1. April 08 eAppeal:  242 gifts = $10,572


During this period we saw no dilution in their snail mail results. In fact the opposite could be aid: email was giving LIFT to their snail mail efforts while also standing strong on its own two feet in the metrics analysis.

Said differently for this client, staying on the sidelines prior to April 2008, meant they were effectively foregoing almost $15,000 in additional revenue PER MONTH.

I would say that's a significant amount of income for any not profit organization to overlook.

If you are looking for a professional fundraiser or non profit consultant for your charity, non profit organizaton, or church, please give me a call at 623-322-3334 to consider whether Pathmaker Marketing can assist your enterprise in generating significant sources of email fundraising income.

Don't be shy if your email lists are small to begin with. Pathmaker can help you implement a Traffic Conversion Plan and list growth strategies that will build your email file into a company asset that can deliver significant results for you. We're confident that we are one of the fundraising companies that can move your non profit marketing to the next level.
 


Social networking has grown up very quickly. It was just a couple of years ago that Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace were mainly used by high school and college kids. But as more and more people discover the ease and convenience of the Internet—whether it’s to connect with family and friends, stay up to date on news and information, or donate to their favorite nonprofit organization—social network sites are now firmly in the mainstream. So if you haven’t already incorporated this area of Internet marketing into your nonprofit outreach ideas or small business marketing strategies, you should give it serious consideration.

You might be thinking, “Well, most of our organization’s supporters are older. They prefer traditional direct mail, and probably don’t know what a tweet or blog post are.” Think again: According to the Inside Facebook website, the fastest-growing population of Facebook users is women over age 55. Over a six-month period, from fall 2008 to spring 2009, the number of users in this category rose by 550%, to 1.5 million.  

Many older people are joining social network sites to keep up with their children and grandchildren. Others are finding fellowship and community that they might not otherwise have. In a recent New York Times article, a housebound 73-year-old named Paula Rice, who spends up to 14 hours a day chatting online at Eons.com, says that the site for older baby boomers “gave me a reason to keep on going.”  

Furthermore, if your supporters are older, what better way to introduce your organization to young people—whole new generations of potential supporters—than by utilizing these sites?

“Okay,” you’re saying. “But we already have a web site. Why do we need to create pages on another site?” One big reason is for the new marketing channel.  If people—whether older or younger—are already spending hours a day interacting on Facebook or receiving Twitter updates, you can easily reach out to them right there. No need for them to make a special visit over to your site to see what’s going on. Non profit organizations are creating pages on Facebook and Twitter that allow followers to instantly see their latest news, ask questions, and interact with each other. Twitter is a site that’s quickly gaining popularity as a new channel for posting brief updates for your followers and supporters and allow them to respond.

Still not convinced that social networking sites are a must-have online marketing tool? There’s a Web site and an e-book (available for $5) titled The Reason Your Church Must Twitter. Perhaps its author, “technology evangelist” Anthony Coppedge, can convince you. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book myself yet, just came across it while Web surfing.) Aside from that, here are a few immediate examples of how not for profit organizations and ministries are harnessing the power of Facebook, YouTube, and other social networking sites:

Compassion International has a Facebook and a Twitter page. The Facebook page features profiles of staff workers, sponsored children, and children still in need of sponsors. The Twitter page includes updates, prayer requests, and posts that link to longer articles.

Compassion Facebook
Compassion Twitter

World Vision posted a short video that graphically illustrates what it would be like to only have dirty water available—the situation facing millions around the world. The video went viral and helped increase traffic to World Vision’s main site by 11%.

World Vision Facebook

Here’s the Facebook page of the Forefront Church in New York City:

Forefront Church Facebook

    If you have any questions about how to get started using social networking sites to spread your message, contact Pathmaker Marketing at 623-322-3334. As specialists in effective Internet marketing, Pathmaker can get you going in the right direction in no time.
Or for further information visit our Twitter accounts:

PathmakerServes Twitter account on church outreach ideas
_pathmaker Twitter account on general business marketing promotion online
RandallMains Twitter account on internet marketing ideas
 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Practical Tip #2: Implement an electronic welcome series.

The primary goal of your electronic welcome series is to accelerate the process of getting acquainted with your new friends. Don’t make email fundraising part of your welcome series – that would be like asking someone to marry you on the first date. Instead, after you’ve convinced them to opt-in initially on our website, say “thanks” on a landing page and/or autoresponder email, then offer them ministry freebies or some other incentive-based opportunity in exchange for their snail mail address. Pathmaker Marketing has established metrics that indicate that for every 100 emails you collect by asking for First Name and Email Address, you will be able to convert 63-65% into full name, phone and mailing address in exchange for a Welcome Kit.

For example, let’s look a this example to see how this process works. Here’s the incentive-based landing page that we've helped various not for profit organizations establish:

The Presidential Prayer Team
Jewish Voice Ministries
Gregory Dickow Ministries



Click through the process in each case to notice all the incentives for signing up. The email sign up page asks the visitor to exchange their name and email address for the goodies offered. You don’t need to ask for more than two pieces of information: First Name and Email address. With these two things you can correspond with someone in a personalized way by email. Anything more can cause anxiety and lead to reductions in signups. 

If you walk through the process online, you come next to the 
“Thank You” page that appears after the sign-up process occurs, with links to the promised benefits pages.  Usually the Welcome Kit offered will convert 63-65% of your email signups into snail mail addresses, when properly strategized.


Notice how it includes another incentive-based offer – a Free Welcome Kit in exchange for mailing address?  Once this transaction occurs, you now have a full range of marketing data: Full Name, Email, Snail Mail, and Phone to begin a dialoge with your newfound friend. In addition, your Member Benefits page can provide for immediate downloads of prayers, helpful tools, and more that were promised at the beginning of the eWelcome series. This entire process can happen in a few minutes. In addition, auto-responder emails are sent at each transaction point, repeating the information.

The eWelcome series is completed through a series of automated emails that go out over a period of weeks to the new signups.  Typically, your first email goes out the same day and is followed by one email each week thereafter, for up to 6-8 weeks total. 

Your website eWelcome series is a strategically critical component in your lineup of small business marketing strategies for the internet.


Develop your email fundraising and communication tools.

Despite negative press about spamming and phishing, email is still the most prevalent method of communicating with people online. It can become your chief method for delivering your messages, to both old friends and new. And email fundraising is one of the most proven ways to monetize your email marketing assets.

The key to building a permission-based opt-in email list is to figure out what you can provide in exchange for names and email addresses. Once you have your strategy devised, you'll begin to establish a list that nurtures your current relationships while developing new ones. Some examples of potential incentives that people might sign up for include daily devotionals, weekly sermons, topical e-newsletters, special premiums, prayer, discount coupons, downloads, welcome kits, and so on.

Usually in email fundraising, your primary e-newsletter can be the vehicle for getting this process started. The goal is to build your email list by providing a way for people to begin interacting with you while you minister to them. The e-newsletter can be your core ingredient, to be complemented by other ideas that enhance the offer. In either case, this whole process must be incentive based. People need some kind of compelling reason for reading your e-newsletter, whether it's unique content or discount coupons for your products.

Here are some examples of ministry newsletters:

Hungry Souls
Sermon-Coach

Inside Scoop: If you send your e-newsletter via email, publish it online also. Many people can't read email on their systems, but if you provide a quick link they can click to reach your site, they can read your newsletter there.

Something worth mentioning here: It's important to never send emails to people who haven't opted in. If you do, you'll most likely be identified as a spammer-and may even lose your ability to email at all. You need to post your privacy policy on your website and stick to it. Avoid selling or renting your list to others, no matter how great the offer.
(Quick aside: Instead of sharing your lists, consider taking advertisers in your e-newsletters.)

Practical Tip #1: Develop an incentive-based email offer page.
Identify what you're already doing that can become an e-newsletter opportunity. The key is a good landing page-a page that people click to from the email. The landing page should repeat the offer, go into more detail, and convince people to do whatever it is you're asking. It should answer the visitor's question: What's in it for me?

Salem provides an excellent example of getting people to sign up for newsletters:

Crosswalk.com

Look at all the e-newsletters to which you could opt in -- they're currently offering 67 different newsletters! Each time someone opts in to one of them, Salem collects an email address, which they then use to provide online ministry that enhances their existing relationships while establishing new ones. In addition, they can communicate with these e-newsletter names on additional matters.

Here's other examples of good landing page with an incentive-based offer from the Presidential Prayer Team:
Jewish Voice:
Villages at Country Club:

The Presidential Prayer Team wants people to join their prayer team for free. This landing page conveys all the benefits of being a member, including prayers that can be used immediately. Once people become members, then PPT emails them a newsletter every week, complete with content to help in praying. PPT also sends regular online fundraising appeals. But their first step was to figure out why people would want to become members and then making the case to convince them to join.

If you have a sales-based or online email fundraising newsletter, at the very least you need to offer discount coupons, or free gifts. Research shows that discount offers are the #1 reason why many women sign up for e-newsletters. This could be a very effective non profit marketing tool for your organization.

If you need help in this area, contact Pathmaker and we can assist you in getting your incentive-based email offer page setup.
 


Have you ever had friends who never seem to change, never seem to rise above themselves, grow, or improve? Mere maintenance doesn’t take very much effort—and after a while, it’s not very interesting. Quality improvements and dynamic enhancements will always out-trump maintaining the status quo, and nowhere is that more evident than online.

Principle #5: Fine-tune your Web image to overcome the mistake of just maintaining the status quo.
I mentioned earlier that you should regularly change your website. You should update your site frequently—weekly or even daily is ideal—but no less than monthly. Also, you should consider a new non profit design annually.  You need to remember that the Internet is a dynamic place, and make sure your site is constantly changing as well.

Practical Tip: Consider updating your website design with articles, blogs, communities, and other ways for your constituents to interact with you.
Just maintaining the status quo will give you the headache of lost potential constituents. People will lose interest if your site is always the same and if there’s no way for them to provide input. Also, don’t just add updates for the sake of updates—that’s another headache. Remember your strategy and objectives and put all site additions through a litmus test: do they help achieve your objectives or fit squarely into the strategy?

Conclusion: When my wife, Carmel, and I were struggling to overcome migraine headaches, we eventually discovered a specialist who got us the help that we needed to deal with them. Likewise, you need experts to help you overcome and avoid non profit website design headaches. I hope that with these five principles, you now have some specific handles on how to avoid website design headaches and instead enhance your existing ministry while extending your outreach.

Quiz: Five Principles of Good Non Profit Website Design

Now that we’ve finished going through the five principles and various tips on how to apply them, here’s a short quiz to see what you remember:

1.    Identify three of the five principles of good non profit website design:
a. Avoid conflicting voices
b. Fine-tune your image
c. Resolve the essentials
d. Develop an attractive appearance
e. Avoid problems that occur

2.    What is the optimal number of strategic objectives for a strong website?
a.    One primary objective
b.    As many as your webmaster can handle
c.    One objective for each department in the organization
d.    Three to four objectives

3.    What is the best choice for your domain name?
a.    A catchy acronym
b.    Your company or brand name
c.    A .net address

4.    Which of the following non profit design tips result in good-looking sites?
a.    Stick to two or three color choices
b.    Choose fonts such as Ariel, Verdana, Times New Roman, or Geneva
c.    Develop a clean home page design followed by two to three sub-pages that flow from it
d.    Plan for growth
e.    Stay relevant
f.    All of the above

5.    Which of the following will help you build your email fundraising list?
a.    An incentive-based opt-in landing page to sign up for an e-newsletter
b.    Placing critical information at the bottom of the page so it is easy to find
c.    A form above the fold that asks for a lengthy amount of personal detail
d.    Giving your visitor plenty of choices so that they’ll chose something
e.    Both A and C

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by website headaches, remember that we’re here to help. Pathmaker Marketing has the experience and knowledge not only to help you get rid of those pesky headaches, but to use your Web presence to maximize your outreach to potential visitors. Contact me with any questions or needs at this email address.


9.    Include a Web Preview link.
Some people's inboxes may default to NOT display graphics in their email client. To address this issue, always include a hyperlinked line at the top that says something like: "Can't see the graphics? Preview online."  link this line to a published version of your email fund raising letter online.

10.   Your emails must link to well-crafted landing pages.
It is important to have your emails connect to landing pages that are well-crafted, namely:  1) they offer more information about your cause; 2) they have a carefully engineered checkout process. By providing more in depth information about your organization’s needs on the landing  pages, your readers will get answers to issues unaddressed in your email copy.  By designing checkout pages that contain minimal friction and mitigate against anxiety and tension about doing business online, you'll reduce abandonment and increase giving.  For more details about reducing friction (time it takes to complete the process) and anxiety (concerns about providing sensitive information) search our blog for posts on the subject of Best Practices for Landing Page Optimization.

11.  Eliminate landing page navigation in your online fund raising.
The only navigation you want on your landing page are links to (1) your checkout page and (2) possibly, if you are offering a premium, a page that tells more about the premium. This keeps visitors focused on your email fundraising offer rather than allowing them to get sidetracked while browsing your site. If your higherups insist, you can provide back door methods to your home page by hyperlinking your header of footer graphics, for example. Make it covert though, not overt, or your online fund raising will suffer.

 

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