Small charity builds big success into its Web presence

publication date: Jun 22, 2011
 | 
author/source: Ryann Miller, Fraser Green
Every month, Ryann Miller and Fraser Green review the website of a selected Canadian charity, focusing on its fundraising effectiveness. It's a chance for the charity to receive personal coaching from two experts on online communication and fundraising. This month's site is Canadian African Partnership on AIDS.

Fraser:

Hi Ryann. I hope you and baby Julian are well and happy!

This month, we've been asked to look at the site of Canadian African Partnership on AIDS. I've been to the site and must say that I really like it!

Now as you know, I don't look at sites from an online giving point of view. Rather, I look at them through the eyes of a potential donor using the site to decide whether or not to make a first gift. My question is simply, "does this site motivate me to give?"

Why it works

And the answer in this case is a definite yes, for a number of reasons.
  • I really like the look and the energy of this site. It's colourful. The fonts are funky. It's visually appealing. This site just gives me a positive and eager vibe. It makes me feel like something can be done.
  • I love the fact that there's a "stories" tab on the home page. (You know I'm obsessive about great storytelling in fundraising.)
  • The site makes the organization look very grass-roots and small - and I tend to like that type of charity.
  • I like it very much that the site has a "making a difference" page with summaries of successfully completed projects. Donors love to see results!
Where it needs work

There are however a few areas that could use real improvement.
  • When I click on the "stories" tab, I only get one story. And that story is a little dry to me. I'd like to read about one person whose life has been transformed.
  • I think the site needs to go further describing the cause. I want to experience the transformation from the despair of HIV/AIDS to renewed hope and optimism in the future - the joy of life renewed. Great soul just isn't there, in my view.
  • The "donate" page should definitely have a section on gifts in wills. Any charity that doesn't invite donors to consider bequests is missing a huge opportunity.
  • I think the photos could say more. Shots of groups of people standing in rows really don't tell me anything. How about showing me donated dollars at work?
All in all Ryann, I'll give this site a B+. I like it very much despite its weaknesses. If CAP AIDS can inject some more emotion, storytelling and soul, I'd be happy to upgrade it to an A.

What do you think?

Ryann:

Julian and I are great thanks, Fraser! Let me get right to the point - I really really like the CAP AIDS site. It's engaging, colourful and action-oriented. For a one-staff-person operation, it's quite impressive.

Fundraising

They drive people to their donation form! Everywhere! It's a great example of best practices in online fundraising. They encourage donations as a way to get involved - also great. The donation form itself is fine, though I'd love to see images of people, and as you commented, Fraser, descriptions of what donation amounts can accomplish. I'd also like to see more info on why to become a monthly donor, since they have that as an option on the donation form.

Engagement

CAP AIDS offers a number of ways to get involved, including social networking and events. For a small organization, they've done a great job of welcoming people. I have to say that having an e-newsletter with a staff of one is an amazing feat! The e-newsletter is so important for the long-term goal of building an online donor prospect file. While I recommend most organizations create one for that reason, I know it can be hard for a small organization to do it every month. So hats off to CAP AIDS for seeing the value and investing in the e-newsletter.

Messaging

I think the site could use more emotion. I'd like to learn about how the organization came to be. While I love the "Stories from Africa" page, I agree with you, Fraser, that I'd like to read about one or two individuals CAP AIDS has helped. It would be even better if those people could write or dictate a piece themselves. I love the "Making a Difference" page that describes CAP AIDS' projects - this is so important!

Voice

Some of the content is a bit dry and could use more emotion. I wouldn't say the site has much of a distinct voice. For a small organization, though, CAP AIDS does a very good job of communicating the important information clearly and succinctly.

Site effectiveness

This website gets everything right, using all the best practices for online marketing, communications and fundraising. It's engaging and fun, has great design and clear layout, drives to online giving very well, and makes a great case for support. I give the CAP AIDS site a solid A. These guys are an example for other small organizations!

To submit your site for review, contact janet@hilborn.com.

Ryann Miller is director of nonprofit services at Care2, where she helps charities and nonprofits recruit online supporters. She is the former managing director of DonorTrends and was a senior fundraising consultant at HJC New Media.

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.

Ryann's web site is www.Care2.com and Fraser's is www.goodworksco.ca - in case you want to pronounce your web jury judgment on them!

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