When another charity is just a click away, how can you stand out and inspire loyalty online? Our expert panel give their views.
It’s not just what you say online that matters; it’s how you say it. If you want to stand out, you'd do well to do so visually, using images - both still and video. Images convey sometimes complex messages far more quickly than plain text. An image-led approach can be applied to a charity's website, its email communications and its social media activities. Images stand out on screen - they are big, and they crowd out other organisations' messages. Whether photos or graphics, they catch your eye in the river of content. Accept that your supporters create good visual content: use the best of it, and your supporters will help you inspire loyalty by visually declaring their own.
Vicky Browning, director of CharityComms
Here’s our checklist for a great online brand:
- Look good – ensure your logo, colour scheme and website layout all reflect your charity’s personality.
- Talk and be social – use social media to reach out to people interested in your cause and respond to those who reach out to you.
- Produce good content – charities have great stories to tell. Use case studies, images, video and audio to generate content that brings your charity’s work to life.
- Listen – find out what content your supporters are really interested in and keep an eye on what’s being written and said about you.
- Be consistent – let your charity’s personality and purpose shine through by making sure your vision, mission and values are reflected across your organisation in everything you do.
Chris Norman, strategy director, The Good Agency
People are motivated by one of four key drivers: enrichment, impact, purpose and reward. A charity’s digital activity is the ideal platform to leverage these motivations and attract interest. People are by their nature communicative and inquisitive; storytelling is ingrained into our DNA. Digital channels allow people not just to engage with compelling stories, but be part of the story; interacting, sharing and influencing the outcomes. This sense of influence and belonging drives loyalty. To stand out and inspire loyalty, charities should avoid using digital channels to create processes or journeys, but rather should use them to create unique experiences. Experiences that will build networks of supporters and advocates who, in turn, recruit their own networks to become supporters and advocates of your cause. Experiences that can make them return again and again, forming lasting relationships.
Laura Bassett, fundraising manager, Eaves
The first thing is to make your data capture really work. Lots of charities still have a CMS list of email contacts that may never make its way into the supporter database. If you can, then integrate your email subscribe form with your supporter database, and then track email opens and clicks from there. Keep your branding clear and distinctive throughout the site, so the brand experience is the same wherever someone lands. Clear site navigation is always important - don't lose people in your site. You can drive people to your site as much with a good thank you as you can with an ask.
Chris Smyth, UX and Digital director, BoldLight
There are two objectives that every charity website must achieve: satisfy the needs of users, and further the mission of the charity. This involves making the website easy to find, navigate and use. However, the harder aspect - but the one that will make your charity website stand out - is making the online experience enhance how your supporters feel about the charity. If they’re not well understood, the objectives of users and the organisation can be placed in competition. Also, with the rise of social media, much of a charity’s online communication is now done in a space other than their website. It’s now vital that charities understand what they want, what their supporters need, and how to satisfy both.
(Chris will be delivering a session on effective user experiences at the Resource Alliance's free digital fundraising conference, Fundraising Online, which takes place between 21 and 22 May)
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!