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 Helps Non-Profits Profit With Revenue Generating Tools and Advice

Photography by Tracy Olson

Could Your NonProfit Organization Use a Little Extra Dough?

Ok – that is a trick question because of course you’d love to earn more this year for your nonprofit or association!  I’m going to share a secret and give you some simple steps to follow to make this year your nonprofit’s best financial year yet.

What’s the Secret?

Step 1 to increasing your online revenue is to integrate your website with an online payment gateway.  You’ll want to apply for a CNP Merchant Account, (CNP stands for card not present), which will allow you to accept online credit card payments from your site visitors, donors and members easily.

Credit cards are fast and secure, making them the preferred payment method for your site visitors’ online purchases.   If you don’t have a merchant account and are accepting online payments, then you are probably using a 3rd party like PayPal or Eventbrite to direct your site visitors to when they are making a purchase.

These 3rd party providers are great options for smaller organizations or the one time event, but for nonprofits with membership dues and renewals, regular event registrations, job posting fees, and other online payments coming in – you really will want to consider comparing payment gateway options and accept payments through your own website.  In most cases, a Merchant Account will end up being cheaper than using a service like PayPal or Eventbrite in the long run.

Applying for a Merchant Account is actually pretty simple to do, and is the first step towards increasing your nonprofit’s online revenue.  By integrating payment processing with your website, you also will have more control over the purchasing experience that your site visitors and members have.  This will let you customize and personalize your website better so your site visitors will love coming back to your site.

Here’s some more information about the different merchant account providers that Tendenci integrates with and I recommend.  There are links to the different pricing plans, FAQs and getting started guides for each of the different companies to help you make the best decision for your nonprofit.

What’s the Next Step?

You’ll want to determine what your organization has to offer of value to your community to better understand your current and potential sources of additional revenue.

Take out a piece of paper and a pen, or open up a Word or Google document and just start listing out all the things you are either charging for, or are doing for free that people ask for more of.  Add things to your list that you’re not currently doing and getting requests to do too.  Brainstorm with your staff and volunteers and let them add their ideas to your list.  You may be surprised by how long your list grows.  Non-profits often overlook their value and the opportunities they offer that they can charge fees to provide.

It is a common myth that the majority of a nonprofit’s revenue comes from donations and contributions.

Non-Profits Earn Revenue from Fees for Goods and Services

Don’t just take my word for it.  Take a look at this chart below that displays revenues earned across different Tendenci modules for the past 3 years.  Tendenci’s software integrates each of the different core modules with your merchant account payment gateway to accept online payments through your website.  We compiled data from the last 3 years for the total revenues earned by nonprofit organizations’ Tendenci websites segmented by the different modules including event registrations, memberships, job directory listings, product sales (cart catalog), donations, training courses, and more.

These graphs display revenues earned as a percentage of the total in years 2009, 2010, and 2011:

Tendenci Modules Revenue Earnings Bar Graph
Graph Depicts the Percentages of Revenue Earned from Tendenci Modules

The results of comparing this data tells us that the fees nonprofits earn online from event tickets and membership dues far exceeds fees earned from donations year after year.

If you want to earn more revenue online this year, host more and better events, focus on bringing in new members and increasing membership renewals, offer training courses and consider adding an online store if you have a gift shop.  Offer more services and products for sale and focus less on asking for donations.

Looks Easy on Paper – How Do You Create and Manage These New Services?

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed right now – you are not alone.  Start small, take your list that you made and put stars next to three items on the list that you think your organization has the budget and staff to accomplish this year.  Start with those three and measure the results of their revenue generation this year as you implement them.  Be sure to save your list, keep adding items to it, and return to the list when you’ve accomplished all three of your starred items.  Pick three more things from the list and try those.

I also recommend you utilize technology to help you collect payments, manage your events and members, and report results of your activities so you can make better decisions on what worked, what didn’t work, and what you can improve upon and do more of next year.  I also highly recommend you checkout TechSoup’s website, where you’ll find great reviews and special pricing for software exclusively for nonprofits as well as a Learning Center and a Community Forum where you can find help using unfamiliar technology.

I also recommend you give the new Tendenci CMS for NonProfit Websites a try!

Any More Tips?

Find creative and innovative ways to add value to your organization’s offerings.  To help you get started, I’ve prepared a great presentation and online webinar to give you some creative ways to use your nonprofit website to earn more this year.  You’ll find new ideas to use your website to promote your services, manage registrations, membership applications, job postings, training courses, and more plus collect payments and automatically generate invoices and receipts.

You can register online today for this free webinar hosted this Thursday, March 29th 2012 and if you missed it, check our Training Calendar for the next  upcoming free class.

Find a copy of the presentation on Tendenci’s Slideshare plus additional presentations that show nonprofits how to create more effective online marketing campaigns.

We also have a free 30 day trial where you can start setting up a Tendenci website and try out some of these revenue generating ideas yourself.  Tendenci enables you to create custom pricing for things like membership dues, jobs board postings, event registrations, and donations so that your nonprofit is able to generate the funds needed to grow without having to feel overwhelmed.  If your current website isn’t doing enough for your nonprofit, come give Tendenci a try.

Check out these resources to help you create and set-up a Tendenci Community website: 

Tendenci Training Videos – short videos that walk you through setting up the different modules included with your Tendenci website.

7-Step Guide with Help Files and Videos to take you through the first week of setting up a Tendenci website.





New Tendenci Help Files, Video Training, and Updates for Your NonProfit Website!

Looking for Help with Your Tendenci Website?

Check out these recent additions to our Help Files and Training Video Files!

Help Files: 

Find width x height sizes for common Tendenci Template images like your logo, rotator stories, and sponsor boxes

Learn how easy it is to Import your members from another website into Tendenci with a CSV file

Add a PayPal Online Payment button to a page on your Tendenci Website

Sign-up for our month to month hosting plan after your free trial, and then use your own custom domain name

Have a little fun with your Tendenci website content and change your bullet lists to custom icon lists with this intermediate level help file

Video Training:

Watch our new series to take you through setting up your Tendenci Website from the very beginning.

Find all our individual training videos to watch and learn how to set-up and use all the features included with Tendenci

We also add new content weekly to our YouTube and Slideshare pages, so follow Tendenci and get notified when we add new webinar presentations, video and help files, and more resources to help your nonprofit shine on the web!

Come Find Tendenci at These Events!

We would love to meet up with you in person to answer your questions about Tendenci and get to know you and what you are doing to make the world a better place.  Let us know if you’ll be at one of these upcoming events and want to hang out with us!

SXSW Interactive Festival – March 8th through March 13th, 2012 – Austin, TX

NTEN’s 2012 NonProfit Technology Conference (NTC) – April 3rd through April 5th, 2012 – San Francisco, California

Houston NetSquared Meetup – Monthly – Houston, TX

Tendenci Software Updates Has Moved!

For a long while, we’ve been posting Tendenci’s software version updates here on the blog.  We decided to move those updates onto our Tendenci website moving forward.  You’ll still find the updates we’ve already posted on the blog here forever and always, and head to Tendenci Software Updates to find the new updates starting with this past week.

From the Tendenci Homepage, just scroll down to the footer and you’ll find the new link to our weekly version update announcements:

We’ll still share some of the highlights of our weekly software updates here on the blog with you – for example, this week we have made some great updates to Tendenci that make it easier for you to manage your corporate members and set permissions controls!

Corporate Membership Updates

  • The corporate representative page now displays a list of all members associated with that corporation.
  • The creator and owner of a Corporate Membership can add additional representatives under this Corporate Membership.
  • The creator and owner of a Corporate Membership can also assign new memberships.
  • Added permission control settings to ensure that Anonymous users cannot be assigned to a corporate membership.

Better Permissions Control Viewing

I’m really excited about this update! 

We widened and updated Tendenci’s Group and Profile Permissions Control View to resolve the issue with some permission settings being truncated and unclear.

Import Your Members from Your Old Site to Tendenci Faster

We made some improvements to our member import with clearer error messages, better file and application mapping, and now membership fields are no longer case-sensitive in the import CSV file.  You can also separate membership fields with spaces, underscores, or dashes without interfering with the import.

Use the Help File for Importing Your Members to see how to import members from a CSV into your Tendenci website.

Find Answers Faster with Tendenci’s New Support Menu

The next time you are looking for support for your website – Look Up.  We moved the support menu from your website footer up to the admin navigation bar that sits at the top of each page of your website.  The new Support drop down menu lists all the helpful links you need to learn to use your website, contact our Support team when you have a problem, search our Help Files, and make a payment.


What is This Tendenci Guide?

We also added a new Support tool to the menu – a Tendenci Guide.  This walk-through tutorial shows you how to use the different features and tools included with your Tendenci online membership management software.  This nifty guide is a mini-version of your website and is designed to quickly and easily show you how to add new pages and articles, update your home page, create photo albums and more with your association’s Tendenci website.

Easily Update Your Home Page Content!







Find Tips that Will Drive New Visitors and Revenue to Your Website!





Looking for More Tendenci Training and Support Resources?

We will be continuing to add new tips and pages to the guide and would love your help. Send us your questions and suggestions on what You would like included in the Getting Started Guide.  You can also come search our Tendenci Help Files for additional help and join our newsletter to receive updates on Tendenci Training, software changes, and web marketing tips to grow your nonprofit or professional association’s membership community directly in your email box.