I am sure we all appreciate the difference between a nice homecooked meal and something from a restaurant. The idea that something looks commercially produced may be less appealing especially in our overly commercial world. The personal touch and a little bit of imperfection may actually add color and flavor. The same is true when we visit a website.
The internet is a great tool for charities to raise funds and garner support support through their web presence. Many charities have spent thousands of dollar hiring web designers to build their sites -- making it look like any site a business would be proud to have. But there may be a downside -- people who are looking to do good may be looking for the face of the charity that speaks from the heart ... a little bit like home cooking. Here are some points to consider:
1. "Build 'em once to last for many years" is bad for business. But many charities still do that. Spend time and resource on refreshing their website every 3-4 years and make it a BIG project. The outcome is a new site with lots of new design and graphics, and even some new content ... and then they celebrate the launch. All that is good if you have a plan to keep the content rolling in freshness. A static website will give repeat visitors the wrong impression that there is nothing much going on there in the real world.
2. A nice website does not need to be picture perfect - like home cooking. Charity sites that feel very much like someone took the time to tell this story and show the visitors what is happening in their organization will leave a better impression than an overdone commercially looking website. And telling the story means using pictures and videos that is current to show the good work that you do. Speaking from the heart with pictures and videos that are somewhat raw like what you would find in Facebook and Youtube works great - simply because it is more personal.
3. Please do not overdo the corporate image stuff ... I think Facebook and Instagram has created a new normal in what content to expect. Many corporate communications executive still subscribe to a more traditional and conservative approach and leaving out all the excitement and fun. Especially in charities, people give for many reasons - mostly not because of the corporate image. Giving from the heart means prospects are finding ways to feel the pulse of your organization at the ground level -- and that's what get them connected.
4. Remember to provide options. Many charity websites are still very much brochureware. Even worse, it is an extension of their annual report or corporate brochure with the intent to "broadcast". They forget that their important prospects want to a 2-way conversation ... and you need to give them options to stay in touch. Beyond "contact us", charities should insert call-to-actions that are creative ... even beyond asking for money!!!
5. Inbound is better than Outbound. Some charities still engage in mass mailing online. Time to rethink this strategy because it smacks of bad commercial practices. You may not only be wasting your money, but may also turn off the more savvy online users ... and that is most of them. Be careful with outbound activities!
If you are contemplating an online outreach strategy for your charity, there is only one advise: SPEAK FROM THE HEART!