publication date: Sep 16, 2011
author/source: Fraser Green, Kori Brus
Kori Brus joins Fraser Green to review the website of a selected Canadian charity,
focusing on its fundraising effectiveness, while Ryann Miller takes a
short-term leave. It's a chance for the charity to receive personal coaching
from two experts on online communication and fundraising. To submit your site
for review, contact the editor.
This month's candidate is the English-language site of
the Montreal Assault Prevention Centre.
Welcome to the web site jury!
This month's site works on a cause that I'm passionate
about. I grew up experiencing bullying and domestic violence firsthand. To this
day, I feel incredibly protective of those who are vulnerable - and those who
are victims. So, as someone who already cares about the issue, does this site
persuade me to move from caring about the cause to making a donation to the
I'm afraid my answer is "Not yet."
credibility but not emotion
But let's start with the positives. There are a number of
things I like very much about this site:
The layout is clean and bright. I like the photo
of the boy in the top corner. I like the prominent "smiley face" donation
button. I like the hand-printed font used in the headers. This site looks good
I like the description of the programs. It makes
me feel like this is an organization that knows its business.
I like the resource page that gives lots of
contact information for other organizations (like hospitals, shelters and legal
aid). This is unselfish and noble. Good
I love it that they ask for success stories on
the contact page!
And now for my constructive criticism:
Tell me stories! One story about a bully in a
schoolyard can be more powerful than the statistic that 70,000 children have
been to workshops.
Show some emotion! This cause (violent
exploitation of the weak) is absolutely loaded with fear and anger. These
emotions should reach out and grab me by the throat!
Everything on this site is written in the third
person. I'd like to see a lot of the content come from real people in the first
person. I want to know who they are, why they care and what they do. (Hint:
it's easier to join a tribe when you know some of its members!)
I don't know why organizations insist on
boasting about their 25th anniversary. I honestly don't think donors
care that much about institutional birthdays. Donors care about solving
problems and generating results!
Speaking of results, show me some real ones! The
fact that thousands of people have attended workshops is one thing. What did
they do with what they learned? This is what really matters. Tell me the story
of a kid who stopped a bully dead in his tracks on the schoolyard. Tell me the
story of the woman who fought off an attacker in a dimly lit parking garage.
That stuff makes it real!
All in all Kori, I think this site has real potential. But
so far, they seem to be hiding their light under a bushel basket. With real
people, real emotions, real stories and real results, I believe that this could
become a truly superb site.
But for now, I'm going to have to give it a C-minus rating.
What do you think?
Fraser. Following Ryann's act is going to be a tall order. I'm glad I'm a tall
guy! Let's get through this first one without rocking the boat or running
straight into the rocks. This site does a few things very nicely, but has huge
challenges in other areas.
As you said, the fundraising message is positioned well and
is virtually the first thing you see. The message bubble comes straight from a
human face that you can connect with the cause, and it's charmingly warm thanks
to good placement, design, and a pale yellow colour that perfectly complements
the site's blue tones.
The problem? It's not
After being drawn straight to the donate message you're left
searching for a way to donate. The button is way down at the very bottom of the
page below the screen break. If you don't find it there, you'll probably do
what I did and click on the donor tab. The next page clearly says "Make a
donation" in bold attractive script, but again no button. You have to scroll
past the page break once again to find the nondescript plain text link.
hosted donate page is clean and clear. No problems. However, the page lists two
funds - in French only - with no descriptions. As a visitor to the English site
I have little idea what my money would support.
Here I think the site design makes some good strides. I love
the way programs are highlighted with the post-it note images on the right hand
side. The event calendars on the program pages are both clear.
However, that effectiveness is diluted by poor...
The home page messaging is too indirect, too impersonal, and
needs more focus. As a new visitor, I don't know what is wanted of me or how I
As you said, they tell you about the number of people in the
various programs, but I don't get a strong message about why those programs are
important. Who's been helped? How has violence disappeared from their lives?
How have children gone forward into brighter futures?
Stories are the key here. Talking to children currently
enrolled in programs probably isn't an option. But they can talk to staff, or
perhaps young adults who had their lives changed as children, thanks to their
programs. Maybe they're now donors, maybe volunteers. Or they could simply be
living healthy and happy lives. I'd love to hear about this.
Overall the voice is institutional but they gain great
warmth through the handwritten design touches. They just need some personal
storytelling folded in. That will help them get much clearer in the home page
messaging as well.
I like the overall design. The colours are attractive and
the basic layout works. It's clean and positive. I also like the way it brings
a touch of personal warmth and human connection through the use of handwritten
script - challenging for a prevention organization where confidentiality and
privacy are significant concerns. The navigation is effective. They could use
an "About" tab.
I would give them a C. The good news? Their problems can be
fixed with some writing help and very minor site tweaks, mainly to address the
donate button problem. With a bit of love this site can easily jump to a high
Fraser Green is chief strategist at Good Works, a consulting firm that teaches
charities how to tell their stories with more passion, emotion and soul. He
specializes in donor listening and coaching charities on how to meet their
donors' expectations, wants and needs.
Kori Brus is philanthropic counsel and marketing
specialist at Good Works,
where he focuses on nonprofit campaign strategy and online engagement. He's the
former communications director of Ecojustice Canada and also former
community manager for Web of Change.
Their website is www.goodworksco.ca - in case you want to
pronounce your web jury judgment on them!