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October 16

Optimizing Your Higher Ed Website for Year End Fundraising: Part 2


by | Oct 16, 2017 | Blog, Featured, School Websites

In my previous post, we began the conversation on how your development department colleagues need your help to be successful during their year-end campaigns. Here’s how to optimize your college or university’s website for end of the year fundraising.

End of the year fundraising is a big deal.

  • 31% of annual giving in 2014 occurred in the month of December, and
  • 12% of annual giving that year happened within the last three days of 2014.

That means an entire third of your school’s annual revenue from donors is probably going to come in within the last 31 days of this year.

Which is why it’s so important to work together with your development team this year to bring those needed gifts in.

And while you shouldn’t do everything that other nonprofits will be doing to optimize their websites, there are some highly productive ideas that you should be implementing this year.

Things You Should Do

Do design a highly visible Donate button.

Honestly, this should be a year-long staple on your homepage, but it’s even more crucial during the year-end season of giving.

Since you’re still getting a lot of traffic looking for enrollment information, you shouldn’t convert your homepage into a giving page.

But you can still make that Donate button nice, big, and beautiful in your site’s menu bar — and it can take visitors to your giving page.

Marian University does this well with a big, yellow Donate button right next to their Apply Now button. When you click on it, it takes you to their Salsa Labs donor management system’s giving page.

Do optimize your giving page.

Speaking of giving pages, you should optimize your giving pages in much the same way you do with enrollment landing pages. Your giving page should…

  • Have one clear call to action. In this case, it’s to make a gift to the college or university.
  • Be free of top-line navigation. There should only be two actions available to the visitor on your giving page: A.) Give, or B.) Go back to homepage by clicking on your logo.
  • Begin with a cohesive headline. Your headline should reflect the language that the visitor clicked on so they know they arrived at the correct page.
  • Feature compelling rich content. Be sure to place a powerful video or image on the page — and avoid the temptation to let the copy run too long. Let the imagery speak loudly.

Do tell good stories.

Good storytelling is a part of good marketing — and even more so with fundraising. It’s not enough to simply tell the visitor to give, you must tell stories that show…

  1. Why they should give,
  2. Why they should give to you instead of another cause, and
  3. Why they should give now.

The stories you tell at the end of the year on giving pages and other fundraising communications should stand out from your normal marketing stories.

The emotional power of the stories should be greater.

When you give, the only thing you get in return is the satisfaction of doing good, righting a wrong, or leaving a legacy. Without emotional storytelling, your donors will not get anything out of their gift.

The donor must be the hero of these stories.

It must be clear in the stories you tell in your school’s blog, newsletter, or giving pages how the donor makes the story possible. They must be able to see their part clearly in the story.

Do feature your year end fundraising campaign on your homepage.

Without converting your homepage to a full-blown giving page, use sections of the homepage to drive traffic to your year-end giving pages.

Use moving portrait or landscape photography or video content with compelling headlines to entice website visitors to click through to the giving page.

These year-end campaign feature sections, along with your highly visible Donate button, should be enough to help your development team reach their goals without losing sight of the main purpose of your higher ed website: enrollment.

Year-End Success

The end-of-the-year is crucial for both fundraising and enrollment. Both of these institutional objectives need your attention as a higher ed marketer.

However, it’s important not to get sidetracked or clog your homepage with too many calls to action.

By implementing the Do’s and Don’t’s of year-end website optimization, you can avoid the common pitfalls that higher education websites fall into and make this year a success for everyone!

For more tips and tricks that directly impact your marketing and fundraising results, be sure to get ahold of us for a free website audit.

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