Why Year-end Fundraising Starts Now

I created this four-page year-end fundraising resource: part planning and part checklist to get nonprofit leaders thinking about what they want to accomplish this December and the seemingly small but oh so important steps that need to happen months earlier than the ask. 

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The most under-utilized SEO opportunity on your website

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Keeping up with all the latest SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tips and tricks can feel overwhelming at times, especially to someone who is trying to simply keep their own website updated with current and strategic content. And while there are a million little ways that factoring in SEO tips will help you keep your website right where you want it (hint: Google page 1), there is one little tip that is *key* and often overlooked, or at the very least, under-utilized. 

What is it, you ask? Accurately titling your graphics. {you: Really? That's it?}

Yep. This one step can really help you up your Google game and it literally only takes 5-30 minutes, depending on how many photos you have on your website. Now, there are a few things to consider when you get started. 

1. Keep your photo titles short and concise. A good rule is to aim for 5-9 words at most. What should you try to include in those 5-9 words? I'm glad you asked!

2. What to include: 

  • The obvious: describe the photo. Who is it? What are they doing? The point of titling your photo is not SEO. The whole point is to help the reader who may not see the photo (for a number of reasons) know what they are missing. SEO is just the bonus! 
  • The location: if possible, try to work this in. City and State, or county if you're in a rural area where counties are used more often. 
  • Keywords: Let's expand on that in #3

3. Keywords are well, key. Keywords are those words that you *think* people are searching for when they are interested in trying to find you -  your type of service, your industry, etc. Now, a little side tangent here - you don't have to guess about keywords! If you're using Squarespace's nifty Analytics, you'll know exactly what people are searching to find you. Or, if you're using Google Analytics, you'll get the same type of information. {Want more info on this? Contact Me}

Now, when using your keywords in your photo titles, don't overdo it. Google is smart. If they figure out you're just putting random words in there to cheat the system, it will have the opposite effect. Be sure the keywords you choose to include are relevant to your photo. 

That's it. By using these three little tidbits of SEO gold, you're going to up your SEO game and have a much better shot at being found on Google. Try it out and start benchmarking your analytics to see what's working! And of course, come back and let me know how it works out. You can leave a comment here or find me over on Facebook, too! 

You might like some of my previous posts....

Giving back through Kiva

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The best part about wrapping up a quarter is spending time deciding where to invest a portion of my profits. I've been partnering with Kiva for over a year and continue to be inspired by women entrepreneurs all over the world.

For my second quarter investment, I've chosen to lend to Georgina in Ghana. Here is a little of Georgina's story:

Georgina is 48 years of age and a single mother with four between the ages of 20 and 14. She sells assorted breads in the market and to passersby along the roadside of Accra. She has been doing this business for the past 13 years.

Her major challenge is limited funds to buy more bread from the bakery to sell.

With this loan she will be able to increase her working capital to enable her buy more bread to sell and distribute to the porridge sellers in and around the market. The profit will support her children in their education and enhance their living condition.

Georgina’s hope for her business in the future is to acquire a shop and an oven to bake the bread herself. 


 Photo credit to Kiva

Photo credit to Kiva

For this particular borrower, Kiva has partnered with the Ghana Women Fund. Here's what the Kiva site says about the GWF:

Ghana Women Fund (GWF) offers water and sanitation loans to people in Ghana living in slums and informal settlements. The high density of unplanned houses in slum areas of Ghana makes it virtually impossible for the communities to have piped water connections or sanitary facilities. GWF’s water and sanitation loans are used to provide safe, clean and hygienic water and sanitation facilities that improve the health of the people living in these slum areas.

Ghana Women Fund identifies and trains entrepreneurs living in the slums who want to engage in water-related businesses. The loans offer micro-entrepreneurs, including secondary suppliers of water, food vendors, and other water and sanitation-related businesses an opportunity to improve their economic livelihood through increased income. While improving their own lives, the micro-entrepreneurs also bring cleaner water to the slum communities in Ghana where they live.

As always, I'm incredibly grateful to my clients who really make these loans possible! I'm committed to both supporting local small businesses and non-profits but also helping these women entrepreneurs around the world. Without consistent, loyal clients, I could do neither. 

You might enjoy some of my previous blog posts....

Six tips for updating your website on a regular schedule

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One of the questions I get asked the most is "how often should I update my website?" While many questions I get have a pretty straightforward answer, this one is a little trickier. There's no set timeline that works for everyone. Instead, I encourage clients to ask themselves a few questions and often, the answer reveals itself. 

Has my business changed?
If you have recently added services, new products, or discontinued services or products, it's time for an update. If you have recently moved locations, renovated office space, or added new team members, you'll want your website to reflect it.

Is my website easy to navigate on a mobile device?
If the answer is no, it's time to update that site. With more and more people relying on their smartphone to access websites, you'll have to be mobile-friendly if you ever hope to convert viewers to customers. Google also continues to give preference to mobile-friendly sites. 

Is my website easy to use?
Ask a friend to look for something specific on your website (Hours, contact number, mailing address, staff members, etc.) and count how many clicks it takes to find the information. If it's more than two or three at the most, it's time to re-organize your site. 

Is my website accomplishing its purpose?
Now, this question requires that you state and understand the purpose of your website. Are you trying to increase sales? Increase traffic to your store? Promote a specific brand? Whatever your goal, you should be measuring it and then evaluating the performance regularly. If it's not accomplishing the stated purpose, it's time to re-think the design.

Once you have the website structure in place and feel good about the purpose and user experience, it can be pretty simple to make regular updates to your site. I definitely recommend using a calendar and scheduling updates. We're much more likely to update our site when we have it scheduled ahead of time and plan time to make it happen (my calendar said today was BLOG POST day so here I am!). So go through and pick one day a month that you can spend one hour on your website. Block it off and don't be tempted to ignore it. 

Here are some easy, quick ways to update your site that will help your SEO (Google loves new content) and help your website audience, too:

1. If you have a calendar, add a few events! Be sure to include helpful details like event times, locations, and directions, if appropriate. 

2. If you have a blog, add one or two new blog posts (Squarespace and WordPress both let you write posts ahead of time and schedule them so definitely take advantage of this option). 

3. Update your FAQ Page. Add one additional question and answer each month that helps your audience. Not sure what to add? Think about what you receive the most calls or emails about and see if you can answer that question on your FAQ page instead. 

4. If you have a rotating banner section on your homepage, add some new photos and delete any that are obviously dated. 

5. Squarespace offers a great announcement bar that is really easy and quick to update. If your platform has something similar, change this out as often as you can!

6. Swap out photos throughout the site for new ones and be sure to add captions, as well as metadata for the photo. 

By spending just one hour each month on your website, you'll make a big impact and drive new traffic to your site. And since it's fresh on my mind, if you're looking for a great planner to keep track of when you need to update your site, please do check out the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley. I love my technology (hello iCal -- I will never leave you) but I still find that using a paper planner for daily and monthly tasks is necessary. The Simplified Planner helps me manage all the things -- kid schedules, house tasks, business plans, appointments, etc. and with so many designs available, there's one for everyone! I'm using the daily planner this time around but there is also a great weekly version. 

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Monthly Simplified Planner.jpg

If you're interested in purchasing the Simplified Planner, use can use my referral code and save lots of money. Just use this link to get started! 

As always, if you need help updating your website, creating strategic content, or both - please reach out to me and see if I can help! 

You might like some of my recent blog posts....

Three summer project ideas: Which one will you tackle?

  image copied from Google

image copied from Google

While it's not officially the summer season for another few days, my summer schedule began the day my kiddos celebrated the last day of school. So in short, my office hours have been sporadic at best and my list of books completed is growing -- sounds like a good life, huh? 

I'll admit, it's been nice. But I also love my work so I'm happy to have some dedicated office days too while the boys enjoy their summer camps. If your schedule is anything like this, it's time to embrace it. These three summer-type projects that small business owners or non-profit leaders can adapt might give you a place to start if you're feeling like you need to check a few more boxes off your list during this typically slower season. By tackling one, or even a few of these projects, you'll feel like you've accomplished something big (because you have) and you might even be motivated to keep going. 

Here are three great summer project ideas:

Organize your email list.

I've had emails on the brain because I'm designing a brand-new service that I'll begin offering this fall all about email marketing. Organizing your list doesn't have to be overwhelming. Start by exporting all of your emails into Excel and making sure you have as much data on each person as you can. Things like first name, last name, and category are the most important (think donor, volunteer, etc.). Once you have the list organized, you can begin to group your people into meaningful segments that can be communicated with in very unique ways. I recommend using a product like MailChimp to create one master list and then using the grouping tool they offer to avoid sending duplicate emails. Seem too complicated? At least get them organized and then check back with me in the fall to see if I can help you with the rest! 

Refresh your website.

Have you taken some time to review your website lately? Have you checked on your analytics to see what your traffic numbers look like? Are your forms converting? Are people shopping on your site? What is your bounce rate? Take some time to dive into the data and then make adjustments to your website that align with your goals. Swap out photos. Check all the links. Spending even just an hour or two to update your site will go a long way! 

Stock up on content.

Take advantage of volunteers who might have a little extra time to give this summer and put them to work on gathering content for newsletters, websites, social media, and any other project for which you're going to need words. Give them a framework for how to reach out to donors, volunteers, event attendees, members, customers, etc. and ask them to gather testimonials. People love stories and using stories in your marketing plan is one of the best ways to engage readers. Adapt longer stories to short snippets that can be used on social media. Add a testimonial or two to your website (as part of the refresh!), and stock up another few stories for that fall e-newsletter. 

When you tackle one or all of these projects, you'll be making your life easier down the road. Pick one and dive in. So tell me...which one will it be? 

You might like some of my more recent posts...

15 ways to start a social media post and 2 words to stop using right now

We've all been there. We're staring at that little box asking us "what's on your mind" and we just need to make the post and get on with our day. Sure, we *know* we're supposed to have a content calendar where we've meticulously planned out what we're going to post about, what photo we want to use, and an extremely clever post that is sure to skyrocket engagement and go viral.

Buuuuuuttttt.....let's get realistic a minute. It just doesn't happen that way sometimes. (Goals are good, keep trying). So we do it. We start the post with two words that are just...well, overused. 

We're excited. 

Blah. I cannot count the number of times I read those two words on a Facebook post and just keep scrolling. Are you really excited? Maybe you are. But there are better ways to start your post that will keep people reading and hopefully inspire them to click that like button, share the post, or even leave a comment. 

Ready for them? Here they are! 15 better ways to start a social media post. 

1. Tell us
2. How did we
3. Would you consider
4. You'll be surprised to know
5. We were inspired
6. From (blank) to (blank), we're working to
7. I bet you had no idea
8. Can you imagine
9. When you think of
10. We're doing the happy dance because
11. What exactly comes to mind when
12. Our hearts were broken when
13. Take a deep breath. We're making incredible progress on
14. We hear you're concerned about
15. It's true. We've been 

Try these out and see how they work. And promise me....no "we're excited" posts this week! You can download a PDF of this list over on my Freebie page, too! Print it out, stick in your social media folder, and get posting. 

You might like some of my previous blog posts...

How to quickly add a box around text in Canva

Creating graphics for blogs, social media, or your website can be exhausting and often time-consuming. But, to elevate your brand and ensure the appearance of your small business or non-profit is professional, great graphics are a must! 

While most designers prefer software like Adobe Illustrator, using an online solution like Canva is perfectly fine for smaller projects. And while Canva does make it easy to find templates to customize, there are a few features it's missing! 

One of those is this little trick...adding a box around text. There are plenty of square elements available but spending time to get it just right...well, it's no longer necessary. This quick little keyboard shortcut is all you need! 

Here's a quick little video explaining this little Canva trick that can take your next design up a notch! 

Now, go try this out and let me know what you create! Would you be interested in more Canva tips? If so, follow me over on my Facebook page! 

You might be interested in some of my previous blog posts...

An easy way to improve your website today

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There is a really easy to way to improve your website that is absolutely free. It will take you some time and creativity but it will result in a better user experience and keep visitors on your site longer.

What is it? Well, I'm glad you asked :)

Reduce the amount of text on your website. 

Take a good, critical look at your website and figure out a way to say what you need to in fewer words. Chances are, this will be easier than you think. We have a tendency to add more words to our website than we need to. And you know what? People probably aren't reading it all. They are skimming, trying to find that one piece of information they came for. 

There is a time and place for long descriptions and back stories but that place is not your home page. Good navigation structure (aka the right menu options) will give you a place to write *all the things* for those who want to read it. But your home page should be concise and get to the point. It should include things like:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do/offer? 
  • Why are you different or what makes you unique?
  • Why should that matter to me? What problem do you solve?

There is no magic number of words but there are a few ways you can accomplish this.

  1. Use bullet lists to break up your text
  2. Use headings and sub-headings (also critical for SEO)
  3. Decide what has to be on the home page and then find a good place for everything else
  4. Use buttons, lines, or other decorative elements

By reducing your text to what matters most, you'll simplify your message and entice your reader to stay on your website longer since their user experience will be vastly improved. 

Start small. 

Pick one page (I suggest starting with your home page) and try to reduce the text by at least 30-40%. Add some headings, try a bullet list, and a design element or two. You'll be impressed at how much cleaner the page looks and be inspired to tackle another page, too! 

Leave me a comment with a link to your site so I can see your progress! 

You might like some of my previous blog posts...

Sunday prep for the week ahead

Sunday is my almost favorite day of the week (Monday wins by just a smidge)! I love starting my day with worship at our church, I love getting to spend intentional time resting and hanging out with my family, and I love getting organized and prepped for the week ahead. 

I've always been the planning type but for years, I struggled with finding the right systems. I tried them all but rarely stuck with anything specific. I remember thinking that the Franklin Covey planner was going to CHANGE MY LIFE. I mean, how could you go wrong with the swanky leather case, the weekly refillable pages and that nifty little ruler/bookmark? And then there were the days of the Palm Pilot! Oh man, how I loved that thing. (I was the coolest, obviously!). 

Last year when I started One Nine Design, my systems really changed. All of a sudden, my calendar no longer revolved around 8a-5p. I had school activities to juggle, after-school pickup duties, volunteer gigs to manage, and business meetings all mixed in between meal prep and laundry. I don't remember how I discovered the Simplified Planner but the name was enough to intrigue me and on somewhat of a whim, I bought one. It has changed my system radically and helped me in so many ways.

The planners are as you might imagine, simple. There is a daily and weekly version (I used weekly all last year but I'm switching to daily this year). They are darling (new covers are releasing this Wednesday) and small enough to throw in your purse or work bag. I still use my iCal to share events with my husband and appointments that are going to affect people other than me. But, my planner becomes the primary place I write *all the things!* I keep track of meal planning, to-do lists, work appointments, deadlines, school reminders, etc. 

And one of my favorite parts is the Sunday prep checklist. Every Sunday, there's a pre-printed prep list that includes:

  • Plan meals for the week ahead (which means this is my grocery shop day, too!)
  • Tidy up for a clean slate on Monday (a little house pick-up and office clean up)
  • Write tasks/appointments for the week (I transfer anything from iCal to my planner and vice-versa)
  • Fill your "tank" and enjoy what matters most (self-care, family time, etc.)
Floral planner image.jpg

This planner really helps me keep my life organized and when I'm organized, I feel better about everything. I know this sounds like a sponsored post but it's really not! I just believe in this planner so much and want others to know about it! Plus, they've launched a great new program where I can give you a discount code - yay!

If you use this link to purchase a planner, you can save $10 off: http://i.refs.cc/54mP9GVt?u=1525020165048

The new planners for the academic year (August - July) launch on Wednesday and sometimes they sell out quickly so if you're interested in getting one, I'd set a reminder to hop online at 10am and purchase! You can look at all the products ahead of time at emilyley.com or visit their Facebook page for lots of helpful videos and product listings! 

If you decide to get one, let me know which cover you pick! I'm choosing the Floral one but it was a hard decision! 

Happy Planning!

Grow your Instagram followers by doing this on your website

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Last week we talked about how to connect your Instagram account to your website and how to use a creative hashtag campaign to step that up a notch, as well! If you missed those blogs or videos, you can see them here: ---> www.oneninedesign.net/blog2/instagram

While those are great features to include your website, there's one more way you can grow your Instagram following that's even easier! 

Here's a hint:


Embedding an Instagram post right inside your blog post is a great way to increase your Instagram followers.

People are already reading your blog posts. By giving them a glimpse into your Instagram account right inside the blog post, you'll show them yet another way to be connected to you. Even better, your Instagram post will take them right over to your Instagram feed where they can click that Follow button!

So, here's how to do it:

1. Go to your Instagram page on your desktop.

2. Click on the post you want to Embed

3. On the lower right-hand corner of the post, right next to "Add a Comment," you'll see the three ellipsis dots. Click on those. 

4. Choose Embed

5. Now, you *should* be able to click on "Copy Embed Code." However, full disclosure, this was not working for me. So I manually copied the code (select all using Command A or Ctrl A and then copy).

6. For Squarespace users: Come back to your blog post and choose to insert a new Embed block. Click on the </> to open the code window, paste the text you've just copied, click Set, and then click Apply.  {If you're on another website platform other than Squarespace, find your site's feature to Embed}

His happy place. #apple #easton

A post shared by Andrea Shirey (@andreashirey) on

7. You might see the "preview in safe mode" box until you publish your post. That's normal! 

8. You're done! It seems like a lot of steps but once you do it a few times, you'll see it's a quick and easy process! 

Now, your relevant Instagram post is right in the middle of your blog post and viewers can click right on the post to visit your Instagram page! 

Don't forget to share your blog posts over on your social media sites (are you using your social share buttons on every post??). Try it out and send me a link so I can see your posts, too! 

Follow me on social media using the links below!

You might like some of my previous blog posts...

Before and after: A look at my latest non-profit website launch

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As a former Rotarian, I was thrilled to be asked to design a brand-new website for the Rotary Club of Belpre, OH. Add in that the project manager was a friend and past member of the board of directors in my previous position, and I was sold! 

This was their previous website:

Belpre Rotary site before.png

They were doing the best they could with the tools they had, and the site was set up in a blog format. As you can see, the site was not mobile-responsive and the design lacked good navigation structure, appealing photos, and compelling content that would entice future members to consider joining.

This is the after:

Belpre Rotary club website after.png

A few features of the site include:

  • Clean navigation with a long-scrolling home page that includes links to the what we believe will be the most viewed pages -- meeting schedule and club impact. 
  • Compelling images that tell the viewer, through a visual story, that the Club is civic-minded and fun.
  • Testimonials that deliver a first-hand view of the Club and what membership might mean to someone new.
  • Easy to find contact information in the site-wide footer.
  • Clear and concise calendar which allows the Club to inform viewers of the upcoming meeting speakers and learn about them prior to the meeting. 

The new website also features an entire page dedicated to the Club's major fundraiser, its annual Golf Tournament. The new website will now be an outreach tool to attract returning and new sponsors and deliver needed information in a more efficient fashion (simply by being able to download forms, rules, etc.). With Squarespace's robust analytics, Club leaders can also communicate the value of their sponsorship with hard data (i.e. 500 people have viewed the page where your business logo is located and 250 have followed a link to your business' website).

The last thing I want to highlight is how the website was designed to be low-maintenance without sacrificing the power of SEO at the same time. For this 100% volunteer-led group, having one person to update the website daily or even weekly just isn't feasible. So to ensure their SEO wouldn't suffer by having a stagnant website, it was designed so that volunteers could make small, easy changes on their own terms (i.e. not having to pay a designer to update it each time). They can add an announcement bar, new calendar events, and quickly change out content in just a few minutes! This is a win-win for a non-profit with a relatively small budget!

Let me know what you think about the site in the comments below! And please do check out the full website at www.belperotary.org


What's saving my life right now: Part 1

Millions of people have now made New Year's resolutions in nearly every category of life and this week, many are finding out the same thing I am -- change is hard. We make promises to ourselves and maybe to others to do more, be more, learn more, change more and it can get overwhelming. 

That's why I'm starting this four-part blog series called What's saving my life right now. If we can learn to use great tools to help us meet those resolutions, then I say why not? I'll tackle four categories:

1. Technology
2. Fitness
3. Faith
4. Personal Growth

(Click the blog title to read the full post)

Read More

Not ready for a website? At least do this one thing.

Even business owners and non-profit leaders that understand they NEED a website may not be able to take that step right now. And that's okay for a season. But there is one thing that virtually any business can do to help increase their online presence. And it's free. Yep. Absolutely free. 

What is it? 

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Claim your business on Google and built out your Google profile. Here's how Google describes it: 

"Google My Business is a free tool that lets you manage how your local business appears across Google products, like Maps and Search. If you run a business that serves customers at a particular location, or you serve customers within a designated service area, Google My Business can help people find you. Verified businesses on Google are twice as likely to be considered reputable by users."

Before I lose you and you think it's too complicated, I promise you that it's not. It took me about 10 minutes yesterday to do this for a client. You *do* have to have a Google Account (or Gmail address) to use this feature. If you don't have one, it's easy to create one here: 

Once you have your account created, go to google.com/business and it will walk you through the process, step by step. 

When you've verified your listing (often via a postcard in the mail), you'll see your Google search results improve and see something like this on your search-results page:

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Plus, you'll have access to write short posts right on your new Google Business Page and receive email reminders when it's time to update! The great thing is that it's not time-consuming to manage like social media but it definitely helps with exposure and offering some credibility to your business. And yes, this is important for non-profits and small businesses, both. With the holidays right around the corner, there's no better time to make sure you're on Google's nice list! 

Take some time this week and try it out! If you get stuck, feel free to email me for help

You might enjoy reading some of these earlier blog posts....

Seven things non-profits need to check off their list this giving season

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This is it. We're clearly right around the corner from "giving season" and non-profits that haven't suited up ready to play ball are going to miss out - big time. But before you rush to start sharing your online donation page every day on social media (a big no-no, by the way), you're going to want to make sure you have these seven items checked off your list.

1. Write strategic content for your online donation page and have someone else read and proof it. 

This is the time to change the text on your online giving page. By changing it up, you offer visitors a reason to visit the page again and you help your SEO by giving Google something new! What should it include? At a minimum:

- Who you are (don't use jargon - talk like you're telling a friend what you do)
- What you need (be specific and talk about people - not equipment, buildings, etc.)
- What impact you make locally (what is different in the community because of you?)

Then, ask someone else to read it and ensure it's clear, concise, and free of grammar or spelling errors. 

2. Ask for one gift to one fund. 

This is not the time to ask for multiple gifts or give people options. Be clear in your ask and tell them exactly what you need and why you need it before December 31st. 

3. Provide clear evidence that you are a qualifying charity.

Most of your late December donors understand the tax benefit of their gift. Make it easy on them and provide evidence right on your giving page that you are a qualifying charity and that gifts to your organization are tax-deductible. It doesn't need to be the main focus of your page - including it at the bottom in a smaller font is perfectly fine. 

4. Include some social proof that your campaign is going well.

This is not the time to sound desperate or tell donors you won't make payroll without them. No one wants to give to an organization that sounds like it might not be around much longer. Include a quick testimonial on your giving page of someone who is a long-time supporter or a first-time donor. Let visitors know where you are in your campaign (include a "last updated" disclaimer) and be sure to keep this part updated throughout the giving season. 

5. Choose a secure payment processor.

If you're launching online giving for the first time, be sure to choose a secure payment processor that instills confidence in the donor. Some of my favorites are Stripe and Authorize. Net

6. Test, test, and re-test.

Even if you've used your online giving page for years, test it again. Some payment processors change what information they require or your website host may have had software updates that affect the online donation process. Ask your board members or volunteers to make a gift so that you can test the page and then gather their constructive feedback to make any needed adjustments. And yes, keep those gifts! They absolutely count toward your campaign :)

7. Start early. Giving Tuesday is November 28 -- be ready! 

Your online giving campaign should be kicking off any moment now. It gets incredibly crowded "out there" right after Thanksgiving when most non-profits starting thinking about how much money they'd like to raise before December 31. Get a head start and you'll have a major advantage. Sit down with your board and talk about goals, communication strategies, and how your online giving campaign will coordinate with other efforts. Set a realistic goal and then measure your progress each week. Watch your website analytics to see if people are getting to your page but just not giving and then make adjustments accordingly. And, of course, follow-up quickly with those who do make a gift with a personal acknowledgment. 

Bonus tip -- once you have your online giving page ready to go, be creative in how you share it. Do not just share your link on Facebook every day. You'll only hurt yourself by pushing people to unfollow your page. Share some inspiring stories about your cause that have happened throughout the year and ask if your followers want to be a part of your work, then include your link. 

Want more tips on how to promote your online giving page? Follow One Nine Design on Facebook where I'll be sharing some great ideas in November! Happy fundraising! 

You might like these other posts, too!

Here's how to get donors to give online

A checklist for the non-profit donation page

Checklist Donation page.png

It's every non-profit leader's dream. You open your email in the morning and you see it. Someone made a gift to your organization through the website. These gifts are some of the most coveted gifts in the industry because they *seem* to have come without any work at all.

However, we know that the work was done. It might have been prompted by that talk you gave in the community last week. It might have been prompted by a mailer that listed your "easy to use online giving page" or a variety of any other efforts you're out there making each day. Regardless, when a donor finally lands on the donation page, you want to make sure you are taking advantage of this unique opportunity to convert that view of your site into an actual gift in your bank account. Here's how:

1. Capture attention by placing a high-quality photo near the top of the page. The photo should evoke some emotion about your organization and have a concise caption that explains its relevance. This is not the time to use a generic stock photo. {Remember to always get permission to use photos in your marketing efforts}. 

2. Lead with impact. Your "pitch" should always begin by telling how your organization is making an impact on your service area. Never lead with what you do, but rather with why you do it.  Give concrete examples of how donor funds have made a difference and when possible, detail what level of giving made it happen. The donor who has $25 to give needs to be motivated differently than the donor who has $2,500 to invest in your cause. 

3. Build trust. More than ever, donors are leary of those seeking funds online. Be sure to link to your Charity Navigator profile or take advantage of badges offered by organizations like Guidestar. And don't assume others know your site is secure - tell them it is. 

4. Use a simple giving form. Don't ask for more information than you need. Keep your online donation form simple and just capture what you absolutely have to have to process the gift and thank the donor adequately. If you add too many fields, you'll lose them before they get it completed. 

5. Give an alternate way to support you. Some people are coming to your donation page to learn more and not actually shell out cash. This is a great place to link to volunteer opportunities or let people know about how an in-kind gift would help. Remember, if you get them engaged, you'll have more chances, later on, to ask for a monetary gift. 

5 must-haves to get the best response from your volunteer page

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I'm starting a new blog series entitled "A simple checklist" and today's checklist is for non-profits with a volunteer page on their website. 

Anyone who has worked in, near, or around a non-profit knows that volunteers are the lifeline of organizations. Most non-profit budgets can't come close to sustaining enough paid staff to get the job done. With the right volunteers, the possibilities are endless. 

The majority of new volunteers are going to do their research before committing to giving their time away. There are simply too many needs for them to say yes to everyone. If you want to ensure you're giving potential volunteers the best information, pay close to attention to what you're sharing on your website. 

Before you even start designing your page or re-designing a current one, make sure you have a clear goal for what the page will accomplish. Is it to recruit new volunteers? Is it to educate current volunteers? Is it a resource for those who have already signed up? It can accomplish more than one thing but not everything. Keep this goal in mind as you write the content and design the page. 

Here's a simple checklist of what to make sure you include:


  • Great visuals. Show photos of past volunteers having a great time. Give potential volunteers a taste of what it's like to work with your organization. 


  • A clear mission. A great non-profit website will weave its mission throughout the website. This doesn't mean a long, boring statement. It means being creative to ensure anyone viewing the site understands what you do and why you do it. 


  • Give good examples. A potential volunteer is more likely to sign-up if you can be specific about what they will be doing. Instead of saying "office work," for example, list some details about what kind of office work needs to be done. 


  • A strong call to action. Information is great but it's just information until you ask someone to respond. What do you want them to do? Sign up? Email you? View upcoming events? Tell them specifically at least a few times on your volunteer page and make links easy to follow. 


  • Make life easy. Do you have forms for new volunteers to sign? Do you need them to sign a waiver? Provide forms on your website to download and print ahead of time. The easier you make it, the more likely they are to get the paperwork done and start getting to work. 

Do you have other ideas of what should be on a volunteer page? If so, leave a comment and let me know!