Make Your NonProfit Website a Donor Magnet Part 2

In part one of this 2-part series, I talked about the problems with many nonprofit websites that are driving potential donors away.  In the second post, I’m going to give you 5 changes you can make to your website to increase your online donor conversions.

5 Minor Changes You Can Do Today

1) Strengthen your Call to Action

The last thing you want is for a visitor to come to your website looking for a way to get involved and not being able to find the information.  Your site needs a clear call to action that asks visitors to become members, donate, or register for an event.

“Learn More” CTA Button from

Here’s a great article by the Copyblogger on the common mistakes that marketers make with their web site call to action.  Are you making any of these mistakes? If you are, today’s the day you’re correcting them!

2) Make it Easier for Visitors to Sign-Up

Make it as simple as possible for your visitors to convert into supporters on your website.  Identify the actions your site visitors take on most often and least often.  Then, log out of your site and go through each of those actions from a visitor’s perspective.

As you go through the sign-up process, ask yourself, “How easy is it and how long does it take you to complete a transaction?”, to help you figure out how you could make the process better

Test both the most and least popular actions and then compare the experiences.  Sometimes, this activity reveals ways that some actions are complicated and time consuming for visitors and that’s driving potential donors away.

3) Move Your Email Newsletter Sign-up Above the Fold

“Above the Fold” is a term for the portion of a web page that you have to scroll down to view.  Think of “the fold” as ending about where you might fold down your laptop screen.

According to another study by Jakob Nielsen, content below the fold is only viewed by about 20% of your total site’s visitors.  This means that any content you place below the fold is only going to be seen by 1/5th of your visitors.  Important items you want to have above the fold include: your email newsletter sign-up form, a clear call to action, a strong headline and links to find out more about your organization.

4) Give Donors What They Want

The Children’s Museum of Houston Gives Visitors 1-Click Access to Information.

Donors want to know more about your nonprofit before they donate.  They also prefer to go online to research information about your organization themselves before making a decision to support your mission

Donors want information that communicates what your organization does, how you spend donations and who you have helped.

If you also have memberships, then you want to also consider that new members want to know about member benefits, costs, and find out about programs and events you have for your members.

Learn more about creating engaging content for your website in the presentation Writing for the Web by Katrina Esco, Account Executive on Schipul’s Creative Services team.

5) Use Digital Media to Create Compelling Stories

You know you should use storytelling to share your NonProfit’s Mission and Vision to attract new donors.  Crafting great stories can be a challenge.  Take photos and videos from your events, of your volunteers and staff, and of  the people you’ve helped.

For example let’s look at the homepage for Camp For All, a camp program for kids with a variety of different health problems:

The Camp has a photo of a kid swimming on their homepage and just look at how happy this kid is.  This photo shows new visitors that Camp For All is making a difference in children’s lives and that’s far more powerful than if Camp For All had used text to say  the same thing.

I’ve written about how to incorporate your nonprofit’s stories with your website.  Check out Grow Your Members and Donors with Photo Albums and NonProfit Storytelling with Videos for more examples and tips.


Make Your NonProfit Website a Donor Magnet Part 1

Tendenci websites include all the tools your nonprofit organization needs to create a website that will attract donors, volunteers and members and make it easy for them to get involved.

According to a study published in the NonProfit Trends, 34.8% of  last year’s online donations occurred after October, November and December.  For most nonprofit organizations, the Holiday Season are when you generate the majority of your annual online revenue from donations, holiday gala fundraisers, and membership renewals coming due.

Is Your Website Ready for the Holiday Rush?

If your nonprofit’s online fundraising isn’t performing as well as you’d like, you aren’t alone.  A recent Usability Study of nonprofit websites found that it is 7% harder, on average, for someone to make a donation than it is for them to make an e-commerce purchase.

In this two part blog post, I’m going to share the research on which elements are frustrating and driving away potential donors who come to your site and can’t find what they were looking for.  The second post will give you 5 minor changes you can quickly make that will get your website ready well to attract new donors just in time for the holidays.

Nonprofit Site User Experience is Falling Behind

Over half of all NonProfit Websites have missing or outdated content.

The usability study, led by noted web usabilty expert Jakob Nielsen, tested common activities that a visitor to a nonprofit website might do and found some surprising results:

  • Making first-time and repeat monetary donations on nonprofit websites – on average, online donations tooks 7% longer than a typical e-commerce site’s shopping cart check-out.  17% of the nonprofit websites made it extremely difficult for visitors to even find the online donation option.
  • Donating tangible items like furniture, canned foods, and used clothing online – this received the lowest user experience rating of all the tested activities and in nearly all cases, site visitors went to multiple nonprofit websites before finally finding an organization with clear and complete information on how to go about donating.
  • Researching how to volunteer online – communicating Volunteer information was the one thing most nonprofit websites are getting right.  The study gave this the highest user satisfaction ranking and reported that the one item most nonprofits forget on the volunteer pages is way to contact the organization.
  • Researching nonprofits on Facebook – the study found that people don’t like to donate on Facebook and that visitors except a nonprofit’s website to have far more content than your Facebook page does.  The report explains that potential donors go to a nonprofit’s Facebook page to read the stories of the people who benefit from the nonprofit’s work.

The study showed that over 53% of the nonprofit websites had missing and outdated content and 47% of the websites were not designed to be intuitive and user-friendly.  The report states that you could increase your online donations by 10% or more just by making some minor changes to your site’s usability and improving your content.

A 10% increase is almost $14,000 if you fall within the median online revenue earned from first time gifts*.

*The average online revenue earned from first time gifts in 2011 was about $136,625 according to Nonprofit Marketing Guide *

If your nonprofit site is chasing new donors away, this means you’re missing out on thousands of dollars in online donations.

Is Your Website a Donor Magnet?

If your nonprofit organization’s website is one of the roughly 50% that is unknowingly chasing off site visitors, then we’re going to fix that starting right now.  You can use the study’s recommended best usability practices with your Tendenci website to give your site visitors a great online experience and increase your donations, memberships, and volunteer applications.

The key is to have content on your site that potential donors are looking for that is easy for visitors to find and tells the visitors how to donate and why they want to donate to your organization.

Crafting the elements within your site that will attract new donors requires time, research, and lots of creativity!

In Part Two of this series, I’ll give you 5 seemingly minor things that you can change on your site that will increase your online fundraising efforts and get you ready for the holiday fundraising rush.

Grow Members and Donors with Photo Albums | Tendenci Feature Focus

A Photograph is Worth a Thousand Words

We’ve all heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and this couldn’t be more applicable when we are talking about your nonprofit organization’s website.

Visual storytelling is key to engaging your donors, members, and community online.  Last week, I wrote about how to use online video to tell your organization’s story.  This week I want to talk about how to use Photographs and Tendenci’s Photo Album module to share your organization’s stories and events and engage with your online audience more effectively.

Photographs Say the Most Awesome Things!

Photos help you share your organization’s stories, people and mission. Your photos also make your website more visually appealing to new visitors.  Here are some great ways to use a photograph to say something awesome about your nonprofit and examples of how some of our nonprofit clients are using their Tendenci Photo Album module.

Photos Convey the Human Perspective of Your Mission

Flip through the photos on the Houston Art Car Parade website where they show off their incredible art cars and, more importantly, how the organization introduces you to the people behind the automotive works of art.

Photos Introduce and Promote the People at Your Organization

Your staff, volunteers and Board members do so much and you can show your appreciation using photo albums to showcase their hard work and efforts.  You’ll not only make your biggest supporters feel appreciated – you’ll also increase your online donations since studies show that potential Donors are more inclined to give if they can see what your nonprofit’s team is doing relevant to spending donations that effectively advance your mission.

See how the Children’s Assessment Center showcases their volunteers for their Christmas Toy Drive using Photo Albums.

Photos from Your Past Events Increase Registration for Your Upcoming Events

When you post photos from past event that show your members, sponsors, supporters, donors, and staff having a great time – you are showing new site visitors what they have been missing.  This will increase attendance at future events.

Check out ThinkLA’s Event Photos as an example of promoting future event registration using past event photos!

Photos Show-Off Your Capabilities

Photos can be used to show what your organization is capable of and what your facilities are like to build trust and increase the chances that a new visitor will become a fan, participant, and donor.  For example, Camp For All’s photo tourof their camp facilities shows parents and their children what they can expect during one of their camp programs and this increases both camp registrations plus support from donors.

Photos Bring More Press

The Media needs great visuals for their stories and they love free photos.  Create a page on your website and link to your photo albums that are most news-worthy and about your organization’s mission.  Tendenci photo albums even include easy copy and paste html code for each photo you upload to an album that allows you to embed the photos in other places on your website.  Share the code with your press releases and make it easy for journalists to pick your story and photo.

Miller Outdoor Theatre has a great example of how to make a photo landing page for the Press.

Flip Through Tendenci’s Photo Albums

Come learn about all the features included with Tendenci’s Photos Module in this Video Tour!

Video Training for Tendenci Photos

We also have a 2 Part Video Training Series on how to upload photos to your Tendenci website and edit them to create great looking photo albums on your nonprofit’s website:

Tendenci Photo Album Training Part 1

Tendenci Photo Album Training Part 2

Free Beautiful Stock Photos for NonProfits

We’ve uploaded one hundred gorgeous photographs that you can share and add to your website, free!

Photos Are Great for SEO!

I wanted to leave you with one last reason photo albums rock out your website and that’s search engine optimization.  Make sure when you are adding your photos that you use the title, description, and tag fields to boost your rankings and attract new visitors.  Learn more about optimizing your photos and other content on your Tendenci website in this great article at The SEM Blog on Optimizing Your Tendenci Website for SEO.

Got Questions and Comments?

Share your comments below or contact us with your questions.

Tendenci Admin Navigation Gets a New Look Plus Learn When to Upgrade Your Website

We’ve been busy little Web Bees the past week and you’ll find a bunch of new features and updates to your Tendenci websites.  To highlight a few of our recent updates:

  • updated custom forms with the ability to simply drag and drop to rearrange your fields
  • added additional permissions settings to job boards, directories, and memberships
  • opened up our plugin app manager to give Site Admins the ability to manage and add new plugins.  (The first plugin we’ve released for free is our Videos Plugin – Here’s How to Install it!)

Check out all of the latest updates on our Software Updates page, updated weekly.

New Blue Tendenci Admin Navigation Menus!

Last week we surprised our Tendenci Enterprise and Tendenci Community site admins with new Admin Nav Menu colors.  Why? We are working to make it easier for our clients to know what version of the software you are using and your feedback was that the blue was a better color for your websites than the previous red color.

 What Does it Mean?

If your Top Bar Admin Nav Menu is a solid dark blue and looks like this:


… then you are on the Tendenci Enterprise version of our software.  Tendenci Enterprise websites have a custom theme and your software updates and hosting services are managed entirely by Schipul – The Web Marketing Company.

If you have a light blue admin bar that looks like this:

… then you are on the Tendenci Community version of our software.  Tendenci Community websites are virtually identical to Tendenci Enterprise in their software codebase.  The primary difference is that Tendenci Community websites use a template theme instead of a custom theme.  Your software updates and hosting services are managed entirely by us.

If you do not have a top bar Admin menu at all, and when you login you see a dashboard that looks like this:

… then you are on our previous version of Tendenci (Tendenci 4.0).  We released the newest version of Tendenci (Tendenci 5.0) about 18 months ago and we recommend you begin planning to migrate your Tendenci 4.0 website as soon as possible.  We’ve talked about this before in other blog posts and we 100% understand that costs and other factors make the migration a challenge for some of our clients.

To help you with your decision of when to migrate and how to budget for it, we’re offering a free report with personalized details about the costs and timeline involved with migration for your website and organization.  We’ll also include free recommendations on ways you can improve your web marketing now with your current website.

You can learn more about the process of upgrading your website CMS to the latest software version in the recent news article: Tendenci Offers Free Report to Help Answer the Question “Is It Time to Update Your Website?.

What New Changes are on the Horizon?

Great question!  We are always looking at ways to add new features, more functionality, and improve the user accessibility of our Tendenci CMS.  Here are just a few of the awesome updates our programming team has planned this summer to make Tendenci work better for you:

  • Easier application process for your site visitors applying to become Corporate Members
  • Updates to Custom Forms to make this module even more versatile
  • Increased Functionality for Tendenci Community to auto-complete site settings during creation based on sign-up information
  • More ways to manage and organize online invoices and payments made through your Tendenci website payment gateway
  • More Print and Export to PDF options for content on the site like Pages and Membership applications

Want Something Not on the List?

Our products are customer-driven and we keep a priority queue for development based entirely on the features and modules with the most client requests.  Send us your feature suggestions and help us make Tendenci the perfect CMS platform for your organization’s website!

Questions and Comments?

We love to hear from you so please leave your comments below or contact us with your questions!

For our Tendenci 4 clients: I encourage you to complete our Is It Time to Migrate? form if you are wondering whether or not you can afford to upgrade your website or should start setting aside the budget for a new website soon.

Come check out our latest Training Videos on Tendenci’s Memberships ModuleCorporate Memberships, and Tendenci Community set-up.

To Our Clients: We Love You! (And with Open Source We Love You More!)

To our Tendenci clients –

Today, we released the Tendenci CMS open source (view the Tendenci GitHub Repository here). Tendenci CMS, or Content Management System, is the software that powers your website. We value you, and all our clients, tremendously and want to make sure we reach out to answer some questions you may have about this announcement and how it affects you.

What Does “Open Source” Mean?

Open Source means that the Tendenci code will be available from Schipul for anyone to download and install on a server to create a Tendenci website. The code is free, but it does require a specific hosting environment and programming knowledge to deploy a site. Open Source also means that other developers outside of our programming team can contribute to the code – build plugins, make changes to the interface, etc. The Tendenci “committers” (lead programmers) will remain gatekeepers of the core code, and incorporate the work of these outside developers as we see the benefit to clients.

What Does Open Source Tendenci Mean for Current Tendenci Clients?

In the short term, you probably won’t notice a difference. Your hosting won’t change, your cost won’t change, and your site won’t appear or operate differently.

Long term – The goal in going open source is to develop a larger ecosystem of developers who can update, add on to, and create websites with Tendenci (outside of the Schipul team). For you, this means more features available in Tendenci that aren’t currently, and the ability to customize your site to your specific needs. This also means that if you decide to, you can host your website internally or have another developer host or make updates to your website without Schipul’s involvement. We will do our best to keep our pricing competitive and maintain excellent customer service to continue providing the most value to those hosting with us.

What About Tendenci 4.0 Websites?

Tendenci 4 - Dashboard ScreenshotIf your dashboard looks like the screenshot to the right, your website is currently powered by Tendenci 4.0 – the previous version of the Tendenci software, written in the programming language .ASP.

Since 2009 we have been rewriting Tendenci – Tendenci 5.0 – in the programming language Python, a more advanced programming language that gives us greater flexibility.

All Tendenci 4.0 clients have the same set of modules and features. In the past if a client requested a custom feature, we had to either find a way to roll it out to all client sites, or say no. Several features (for instance a searchable database of Attorneys) are not applicable to all clients, but exist on every Tendenci 4.0 site. The latest version of Tendenci works in a different way. Tendenci 5.0 has a Core that include pages, forms, users, events, etc. that apply to virtually all clients. From there we install additional features that are custom to each client using Plugins. For instance, a client may want a Staff module, Video Gallery, or Locations Module depending on the organization’s needs. Things like workflow, interface, and design can be custom to your organization.

Tendenci 5 is the version of Tendenci that we will be taking Open Source.

I Have a Tendenci 4 Site. Should I Upgrade to Tendenci 5?

Web technology changes frequently. We recommend clients consider revamping their website about every 5 years – so you are utilizing the latest technology and your website reflects your brand in the most current light. That being said, upgrading a website is a process and represents a cost, so for some organizations we understand that budget constraints mean a website redesign may not be at the top of your priority list. We aren’t going to stop supporting Tendenci 4, yet long term all of our clients will need to upgrade to keep up with the latest technology. We hope that the additional features of Tendenci 5 & the lower hosting cost as a result of new efficiencies is compelling to upgrade.

The caveat here is that while Tendenci 5 is far advanced beyond Tendenci 4.0 in many ways, there are specific features that are not yet available in Tendenci 5. For a list of Modules that have changed in the new version, visit this help file.

If you are interested in learning more about upgrading to Tendenci 5, please contact our Business Development team at 281.497.6567 ext 700

How Can I Learn More About Tendenci Open Source?

The details of Tendenci Open Source CMS are available at

Also follow us online to keep up to date with the latest Tendenci Open Source details:

Additional Questions, Comments, Concerns, etc. please don’t hesitate to email us at opensource @, or post them in the comments below.

Thank you for being a client!

Tendenci Updates January 19th, 2012

Maintenance Announcement | Planned Website Outage to Upgrade Your Tendenci Database

Sunday January 22nd, 2011 Between 1:00AM and 2:00AM CST:

Some Tendenci Sites will experience a 10 to 15min downtime early this Sunday morning while we upgrade Tendenci 5.0 MySQL Database on client websites.  Please contact us at if you have any questions.

Check out all of our awesome updates this week on your Tendenci software for association website management!

This update is so big that you might have to clear and refresh your web browser before you can see the changes on your Tendenci website.  We’ve got a great help file from the Schipul website on how to clear your web browser for you:

Our biggest update this week is our addition of the physical location application – enabling your site visitors to search for the nearest physical location of your organization on your website!

Global Settings and Content Management

  • Searches using the Global Search or File Search now include results from PDF documents stored on your website
  • The Directory “Add” link is now visible by anyone with a login account on your website
  • You now have the option to preset tags when adding a story via query string
  • Updated the stories search page to be translation compatible

Custom Forms Module Updates

  • Increased Custom Form titles from 50 characters to now allow 100 characters for titles

Membership Module Updates

  • You can now paginate through subscribers on the group page
  • Graceful degrading when associating a subscriber with an existing account during import.

Physical Locations Module Added to Tendenci 5.0!

  • Tendenci 5.0 now has the physical locations module
  • Site visitors can search your locations by distance located at, all locations, or nearest location
  • Find the “location” application on your Tendenci admin bar to add, edit, and manage your physical locations
  • When a location is added or edited, the latitude and longitude are auto-saved

Tendenci Template and Design Updates

Tendenci Email Newsletter Marketing Dashboard

  • Your Campaign Monitor subscriber lists now automatically sync when subscribers are imported into a group 

Click Here to learn how to improve your email marketing using Tendenci’s Newsletter Marketing Dashboard integrated with Campaign Monitor’s email marketing software and find other resources for email marketing success!

Not using Tendenci for your website CMS? 

Find out all the awesome things Tendenci can do for your Association with our 30-Day FREE Trial.  Then – show us what you can do with your Tendenci website!

Questions about these Updates? 

Hit us up in the comments or over on Get Satisfaction and try out our newest self sign-up version of the Tendenci Software FREE for 30 days! 

Tendenci Updates January 12th, 2012

We made some new updates to our Tendenci software for association website management this week.

Check out all the awesome things Tendenci can do for your Association with our 30-Day FREE Trial.  Then – show us what you can do with your Tendenci website!

Global Settings and Content Management

  • Added Payment Method as a Field Label on custom forms.
  • Added Two new search filters for user profile search, allowing administrators to search users to view all users with a specific level of permissions and view all users capped at a specific level of permissions.
  • Updated some of the base template code to prevent page display errors when admins forget to upload media to custom page templates.

Membership Module Updates

  • Updated the corporate membership module to allow more design option in custom template designs for corporate memberships.
  • Updated membership entry approval email that goes to administrators with more links to the membership applicant data.
  • Added more information on corporate membership renewal notification.
  • Improved credit card payment verification process for corporate memberships.
  • All memberships now require a membership type at the database level to ensure content validity.

  • Moved the Corporate Memberships Tendenci Navigation Tab to the Membership Entry Application Page, replacing the News Tab.
  • Administrators will now see the Total Number of Memberships when they search Membership Entries.
  • Added a balance to membership entries, which links to the member’s invoice.  This will help administrators better manage their association’s finances and account receivables. 

Career Management Module Updates

  • Updated the Jobs Module to prevent duplicate URL slugs from new job postings that are very similar to previous job postings.
  • Improved indexing for the Jobs Module to increase relevancy of Job Board search results.
  • Add two new search filters for jobs search to allow you to search job postings by their Category and Subcategory.

Tendenci Self Sign-Up Trial Updates

  • Added a new email notification that will send trial/self sign-up customers an email notification 1 week prior to their trial expiration period to inform them their trial period is ending.
  • Currently – trial/self sign-up customers will not have their site disabled when their 30-day trial is over.  We will receive a notice and send them an email the day their site has expired and will update them when the Beta testing has ended at least 2 weeks before we would disable their trial website.

Tendenci Email Newsletter Marketing Dashboard

Click Here to learn how to improve your email marketing using Tendenci’s Newsletter Marketing Dashboard integrated with Campaign Monitor’s email marketing software and find other resources for email marketing success!

Questions about these Updates?

Hit us up in the comments or over on Get Satisfaction and try out our newest self sign-up version of the Tendenci Software FREE for 30 days! 


Heads Up – Some Tendenci Sites Are Having Content Display Issues

UPDATE: All Tendenci Sites are Back to Normal – Content is Displaying Correctly

As of 12:45 PM Central, Tendenci sites are displaying all current content once again. If you have any questions, please contact our Support team at or call 281-497-6567 ext 411.

Don’t Worry – Your Site Will Return to Normal Before Lunchtime

Newer Tendenci websites are hosted with Amazon Web Services and last night, Amazon updated their servers.  As a result, our index servers did not successfully come back online last night.

What This Means to You

Your website may not show current information and in some cases, you may not see recently added content when you log on to your website this morning.

No Data is Missing

Your data is safe and sound in the database, it may not be displaying correctly on your website.

We are restarting the production index servers and your website is re-indexing as I write this.

Our estimated timeline for all Tendenci websites to be back to normal is approximately 2 hours.

If you have any questions or concerns about something – please contact our Support team at or call 281-497-6567 ext 411.