Posted August 3rd, 2015

9 Ways to Make Your Website More Appealing

mount vernon website previewAdding an online component to your planned giving marketing can be an effective complement to other donor communications. Digital marketing in the planned giving arena can be especially successful if it is a strategic component of an overall plan that considers differences in communication preferences based on age, wealth and other relevant factors.

The average age of gift annuitants is 79 and more than 80 percent are over 75 (see http://www.acga-web.org/about-gift-annuities-top/gift-annuity-best-practices). According to Dr. Russell James, some 80 percent of bequest donors are over age 75 when they execute a will including a bequest (see “What’s Wrong with Focusing on Bequest Intentions from 40-Year-Olds?” Give & Take, December 2013). Given these facts, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of donors over 75 may not be as inclined as other generations to be influenced by your website alone (see http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/ older-adults-and-technology-use/).

That is why it is important to use a carefully integrated mix of marketing channels including mail, telephone, websites, online marketing, donor gatherings and one-on-one communication.

Sharpe’s consultants have helped web services clients employ a number of successful communications techniques in conjunction with their gift planning website that have helped spark fruitful relationships and resulted in a number of excellent gifts from donors of all ages.

Here are some tips we offer based on their success:

Enhance the “Contact Us” page by designing an informational request form. You might include specific complimentary offers of helpful information. This could be an e-brochure (included with a Sharpe site) or other printed materials of your own creation or procured from other sources.

Make the “Contact Us” page more inviting by including a group picture or individual staff photos.

Include references to the website in other development publications and communications, newsletters, magazines, annual fund, etc. An example would be: “Learn more about special ways to support (your organization) at (web address).”

Include an invitation to visit the website in the annual report, individual proposals and pledge reminder letters.

Periodically share links via email with individuals as warranted and with certain groups such as current and former trustees, campaign volunteers and retired faculty and staff.

Invite the aforementioned groups to consider “backlinking” your site from their personal or corporate websites as appropriate.

Encourage these same groups to “LIKE” or reference supporting your organization with a link back to your site.

Add a variety of donor stories and even donor videos, and announce in print and digital communications that they are now online.

Every organization is unique. Periodically review Analytics after specific changes in your content or communication adjustments to see if web traffic increases.

A well-designed, donor-friendly website that is easy to read and navigate is essential. Integrate online marketing with other media, especially in the case of seniors where studies show that print is the media they still prefer.

An effective website can provide easily accessible information to donors of all ages as they plan their gifts and can be helpful as a source of information for family members, attorneys or financial advisors when helping a senior relative or client who was initially influenced through print media.

Integrated marketing solutions created by highly experienced editors and consultants who understand how to assist in creating comprehensive marketing plans and communicate plans to donors and prospective donors using various media have been the hallmark of success for Sharpe clients for decades. ■

To learn more about how to create a website with supporting materials that are attractive and appealing to your donors, contact a Sharpe representative at 901.680.5300 or info@SHARPEnet.com.

The publisher of Give & Take is not engaged in rendering legal or tax advisory service. For advice and assistance in specific cases, the services of your own counsel should be obtained. Articles in Give & Take may generally be reprinted for distribution to board members and staff of nonprofit institutions and other non-donor groups. Proper credit must be given. Call for details.

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