Top ways to reach new volunteers & donors so far this year

You post on social media, send out newsletters and even sometimes write a blog, but times are changing and you’ve noticed these tactics just aren’t doing what they used to. That’s why Digital Marketing Philippines did a whole lot of research to help us all uncover what is working these days.

Though B2B marketing contrasts with nonprofit marketing, there are a few of these trends that are relevant to nonprofits. Take a look at the infographic and grab some ideas to try out.

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Nonprofit website design costs: How can you determine your redesign budget?

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Before you’ve started the project, determining the scope of your nonprofit website design and how much you’ll need covered by grants can prove difficult, if not impossible. To alleviate some of this burden, ArcStone’s Head of Sales, Jenna, answered some common questions below. Read through them to help you understand what all might go into your website and what hidden costs you should note before diving in.

*Warning: Jenna has tried to provide a lot of detail, but in the end, you’ll want to talk to an agency or your developer/design team to understand what the true cost will be. This post will help you understand how to begin thinking through your budget and what questions to ask.

How much does a redesign cost?

The fluctuation of cost is due to a combination of factors. You’ll want to know:

  • Experience level of provider
  • Size of website
  • Cost of provider or agency
  • Approach (custom vs. template, etc.)

Here are some general prices Jenna estimated below:

  • Off the shelf template, no expert help (Squarespace, WordPress, etc.): FREE – $500
  • Freelancer website (template or custom): $500 – $10,000
  • Pre-built template w/customizations: $1,000 – 12,000
  • Custom website w/CMS: $5,000 – $100,000+ *most fall between $10k-50k
  • Custom website with a custom CMS: $25,000 – $100,000+

You’ll also want to think about whether or not you’ll need marketing work, ongoing support or hosting services. Always ask your partner or employee if they can cover all the bases you need.

What other factors can influence your website redesign budget?

There are quite a few aspects Jenna runs into when setting up a client with the appropriate budget. The four questions below often surprise clients so you’ll want to ask them now rather than run into them later.

1) What is the number of unique page templates your site will need?

Most websites have at least 3 unique page layouts that better accommodate different content and audience types, rather than having just one standard page.

For example a nonprofit would likely need page templates such as:

  • Home
  • General interior (our mission, history, etc.)
  • Donor payment
  • Volunteer signup
  • How to get help
  • Events
  • Blog listing
  • Blog detail
  • Contact

It seems like quite a few right? It’s tempting to say you don’t need these all, but each type of content necessitates additional wireframing, design, development and content time – meaning more time and money. Better to be realistic now than to add these on later.

2) Do you need something custom or off the shelf?

Jenna uses this fitting example: when redesigning your kitchen you can either choose a custom cabinet or one that is mass produced. This is the same in regards to the functionality needed for your website. Sometimes there are plugins or systems that can handle what you need, while other times you need a custom solution. Jenna noted that people often assume their needs can be met with a pre-built solution, but this is not always the case. Then when a nonprofit needs something custom, they forget about the time it takes to research, install and configure something pre-built.

  • Plugin purchase and configuration: Free – $2000
  • Individual custom features: $200 – $10,000 (each)

3) How will you handle content?

It’s fairly standard to see nonprofits cut content production and implementation from their budget. They assume they can at least do that part on their own. However, it becomes really challenging and time-consuming. In the end, they ask the agency to takeover, which costs them more than they anticipated. Jenna highly recommends budgeting extra for any redesign and never assume you should re-use existing content.

A few common content budget items during a redesign that you should consider are:

  • Content Audit
  • Content Strategy
  • Production and Governance Plan
  • Content Creation – copywriting, photography, video production, graphics, etc.
  • Content Migration – automating the migration of a WordPress blog, for example
  • Content Entry
  • Content Formatting & Optimization

She also recommends getting this done as soon as possible. Don’t wait until the agency is done with their work. Focus on this from the get-go so you and your employees can better plan for it.

  • Most content budgets for a website redesign: $1,000 – $20,000

4) Time is money

Though experienced agencies often cost more, they typically have well-defined processes which can save you time and money in the long run. They will be more efficient throughout and more equipped for handling any mishaps.

Also keep in mind, when it comes to timeline, we’ve found the more tight schedule we stay on, the better the project goes. Keeping a consistent momentum keeps people focused on both sides and can help decrease the cost of project management. Keep in mind something like 6-12 weeks.


We hope this helps you plan out your redesign project and avoid any surprise costs. As a nonprofit, we know you don’t have the time or money to deal with that, and with all the good you’re doing, you shouldn’t have to take on anything more!

If you are thinking about a redesign, check out our 25+ website redesign resources or contact ArcStone’s team today.

Tackling nonprofit web design projects, with some help from local experts

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Website redesigns are a huge undertaking, especially for nonprofits who have very specific (and often tight) budgets and not a minute of spare time. ArcStone has been focusing on nonprofit web design for a few years now, so we’re family with situations where decision makers are challenged beyond their original expectations. How can you prep so you are ready for what your website project may throw your way?

We think you should attend a happy hour.

Hear us out. Minneapolis web design, content and development experts are getting together this upcoming week to talk through the challenges of a website redesign. These folks include ArcStone’s CEO David Carnes as a moderator of the panel discussion and representatives from three Minneapolis web design agencies – ArcStone, Brandpoint and fjorge.

The panelist are:

This discussion may include:

  • Where to start your website redesign
  • What goals to keep in mind
  • Tricks for staying under budget
  • Ideas for managing your team
  • Aspects you may be forgetting
  • Whatever questions you and other guests ask!

This is all happening Tuesday, June 6th, 3:30pm-6pm at the Shindig Event Space.

  • 3:30-4:30PM: Registration & Social Hour
  • 4:30-5:30PM: Panel Discussion moderated by David
  • 5:30-6:00PM: Questions & Wrap Up

Besides the amazing knowledge you’ll gain by listening to the experience of others, you will also receive a free drink ticket and delicious apps. Sign up here. Cheers to a successful redesign!

How to ensure your nonprofit video is worth the expense.

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There was an awesome Minneapolis nonprofit event recently and I wanted to be sure you got to hear about it. Jenna – the digital strategist who founded this blog – and Nick – ArcStone’s video producer – attended the AMA event entitled, “Practical Content Marketing for Nonprofits.” The idea Nick and Jenna contributed was one that many of our nonprofit clients have brought up: How can you produce a more affordable nonprofit video? And better yet, how can we be sure it will last?

Nick has been encouraging nonprofits to produce videos for years. His argument is that if you plan your nonprofit video carefully, you can produce one that will last you for years and will work well in several mediums.

The videos he produces for nonprofits have been filmed so that they can be easily sliced up to several lengths. In this way, the video can work on social media, in email campaigns, on a loop in the background of your website or as the full-length video at your gala.

So what does Nick use when he produces these videos? He shared a few of his secrets below.

Planning stage:

Production stage:

  • EcoMedia: A large organization that helps nonprofits with video
  • Voice Jockeys: Professional, low cost VO work
  • PremiumBeat: High quality and affordable music service

Examples of Nick’s work:

To view the full AMA event with several other nonprofit tips, check out livestream Jenna posted.

How to run a fundraiser gala – ideas from Charity: Water’s recent $3.2 million success

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Charity: Water’s CEO, Scott Harrison, knew he was taking a risk with his nonprofit’s fundraiser gala plans. He knew he was, “either going to look very stupid in front of 400 people or maybe make them cry” as he admitted in an interview (Fast Company). When searching for how to run a fundraiser gala, a lot of answers will point to how to organize it all and how to ensure you feed your guests (which is no doubt important). However, Charity: Water’s example highlights the need to take a chance and think outside the box.

Recap of Charity: Water’s gala

According to an article featured in Fast Company, the gala took place in a glass atrium at Temple of Dendur, which was filled with a candlelit glow. At each table was a locked iPad on which a photo and name of a resident from Adi Etot, Ethiopia was displayed – each guest having their own individual from the community.

After dinner, Harrison got on stage to talk about their work and to show a video of life in Adi Etot. Then he instructed attendees to type in the iPad password, “together,” which unlocked more photos of the person they had seen on the lock screen. Once a person donated the suggested $30, the screen above the stage showed the person’s grayed out photo become colored. This was the first way they highlighted the impact each individual donor has.

But Harrison was just getting started. The screen then changed to live footage of Adi Etot, featuring the people the gala’s guests had just seen on their iPads. They were surrounding a drill. Suddenly, the geyser of water was activated, spreading water over all of the people there. Everyone was cheering – those in Adi Etot and those at the gala. Many of them, including Harrison, had tears streaming down their face.

All Harrison said after that was, “I don’t really have much to say. I’m glad that worked,” adding, “You don’t get a handbag or a trip to Telluride. You get nothing out of this except knowing that you can truly, truly impact the lives of people thousands of miles away.”

It worked. By the end of the night they had raised nearly $3.2 million.

How the gala idea came to life

In order to pull of such an act, Charity: Water planned their gala for six months. They had to:

  • Coordinate with Ethiopian government officials and their well-digging partners, REST, to both record the video and get the timing just right for the live stream
  • Visit Adi Etot to film the video, interviewing the community regarding the hardships of life without a well
  • Rent iPads and train volunteers to get these iPads both set up and tested for the gala
  • Match each guest with an Adi Etot community member – pairing gala attendees with someone of the same gender or similar circumstances (mothers with mothers, etc.)
  • Test their live stream to ensure all would function properly
  • Develop their tool for showing the live update of donations throughout the night

What can your nonprofit learn from this for your next gala?

Establish trust

“The biggest problem with charity is that people don’t trust charity,” – Scott Harrison, CEO of Charity: Water

When planning your gala, don’t get too caught up in details like what you’ll eat and how it will all appear. Back up and think about how to resolve the big factor Harrison points to in the above quote. People need to know that their money is being spent wisely. They are willing to donate to an important cause, but they may have been burned in the past:

“Historically, humanitarian aid groups have wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on poorly planned or maintained projects that have broken down, according to the International Institute for Environment and Development, a global-sustainability research group.” – FastCompany

With a gala, you have an opportunity to show them where their dollar goes, through a full on experience.

How can you establish trust for your gala attendees? Is it simply by producing a fancy dinner and showing them a video that pulls on their heartstrings? As Charity: Water’s example shows, it’s about more than that. Showing them exactly who their dollar impacts and how direct this is is what engages them.

Relate donor and recipient

Yes, it takes time to go through your attendees list and try to match them with someone of a similar background or identity, but this helped Charity: Water stir up empathy in their audience. When your event attendees can realize they have the power to make an impact on someone they can relate to, it’s more likely they’ll recognize how important that is.

Show them the real situation

Maybe you don’t have the funds to transport your team to the places your nonprofit impacts, but if you can somehow show the communities and situations you impact, focus on that through your gala.

The point where Charity: Water switched the footage from a recorded video to the live stream of the launch of the well was what changed the momentum of the evening. In that moment, the attendees were present with the people of Adi Etot.

For more help with fundraising your upcoming campaigns, reach out to our strategists at ArcStone »

Where should all nonprofit website or marketing projects start?

Looking back before moving forward.

It’s not the most exciting thing to do. However, the results have proven essential to nonprofits as they approach any website project.

Many nonprofits that come to ArcStone for help already have a website. They come to us because their site isn’t doing what they want; it isn’t drawing in donations or volunteers or effectively communicating what they need to say. Knowing this, we look over what they’ve done in the past and attempt to uncover exactly what will make it better in the future. This all is included in what we call a website audit.

nonprofit-website-design

What is a website audit?

First, let’s explain what an audit even entails. Essentially, it’s a look at what causes a good versus bad experience for a user on your website. Then it’s looking at how the site is performing technically. We look for issues, errors and missed opportunities so we can better understand where the site is at and where it could go.

What’s covered in a nonprofit site audit?

These very from client to client, based on need, but this is an overview of what all we typically review.

  • Google Analytics (GA) accessibility: Is anyone at your nonprofit reviewing your analytics? How easy is it for them to get to the data that matters to your organization specifically?
  • GA setup and implementation: Is your account set up properly? What tags are you using? Understand some of the basics on Analytics »
  • GA data quality and additions: If it is set up, what’s being tracked within your account? What information do you need to see that you aren’t? Learn about filters and conversions »
  • Metadata: Is your site using metadata? Does it follow best practices?
  • Responsiveness / mobile-friendly design: Is the site responsive? How many users are using mobile devices and is it working for them? More on mobile sites »
  • Site indexing and crawlability: Is your site being indexed and crawled?
  • Site errors: Are there any errors on your site?
  • Site speed: How does your site function in terms of speed? Discover how slow site speed negatively impact SEO »
  • Schema implementation: Do you have schema implemented?
  • Internal linking: Are there links set up within your site?
  • Manual actions from Google: Do you have any manual actions or violations?

So before you dive right in to a redesign, be sure to ask yourself some of these questions. Nonprofits have tight budgets, and you need to be sure you have a solid plan for tackling your biggest priorities efficiently. With an audit, it’ll become far clearer what these are.

If you’re interested in learning more about ArcStone’s website audit services, please contact us.

Not ready for a new nonprofit website design? Start with a landing page instead

Not many nonprofits have the budget for a full-on website redesign, at least not until a lot of grant writing has been done. However, this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for any site tweaks, if prioritized above other expenses. This post highlights the necessity of quality landing pages and why they might be more worth their weight in gold than other digital marketing moves.

Nonprofit-Site-Design

Here’s how we know.

A client, Hunger Solutions, was seeking to drive attention to their campaign, Minnesota Food Helpline. They had spent time and effort developing a form and landing page and coupled that with promotion via social media and AdWords. Even with all of this effort, they weren’t seeing the results they thought they could.

When they came to ArcStone we decided the best use of their budget was not in promotional techniques or content marketing, but instead a completely redesigned landing page.

The priorities of this design included:

  • Simplify the language and remove much of the text. We wanted all the users’ attention to go to the call to action.
  • Change the call to action to a very specific direction. It was, “do I qualify for SNAP?” and we switched it to a more active phrase, including a verb, “find out if you qualify for SNAP.”
  • Remove distractions. We took all the unnecessary navigation items and really only kept the link to submit the form.
  • Provide insight through imagery. Although icons aren’t always a bad idea, we noticed they weren’t doing much to inform the user what their action would do.

A few of the results:

  • An increase in conversions of 178% the month after the redesign.
  • 3x as many calls to their helpline.

Where can your nonprofit start when it comes to its site design & landing pages?

1. Talk with your development team and nail down your most important priorities.

For Hunger Solutions, it was helping those in need find their helpline.

Maybe it’s driving donations for a campaign or getting more volunteers at your event. Whatever it may be, try your best to ensure your landing page focuses on a specific audience. If this is keyed into, you’ll better be able to redesign the layout and rewrite the copy with them in mind, making it more likely you’ll capture their interest.

2. Find examples from other similar nonprofits and determine what you do and don’t like.

For example, I admired the landing page below, as it is beautiful and gets right to the point:

nonprofit-landing-page-design
Image source: Leadpages

This works well as they state exactly what they want you to do at the get-go. The main information is kept at the top with an elegant design. If the donors want to learn more about where their money is going (which they often do) they can easily look below on how this helps reach the nonprofit’s goal.

3. Audit your current design. Whether you conduct this audit yourself or have an agency’s help, ask questions such as:

  • If you were a new visitor to the page, is it clear what your organization is trying to do?
  • How specific is your call to action? Is it easily found by a new user?
  • How is the page performing currently? Where would you like this conversion rate to be?
  • What’s the bounce rate? Learn about what might be the cause of a high bounce rate here »

We hope this encourages you to take a close look at what we believe is one of the best investments. By having a well thought out landing page, your nonprofit can better achieve its goal: getting people the information they need to make the world a better place.

Nonprofit web accessibility – a recap from experts.

You already understand the value of investing in a quality website. Unfortunately, many nonprofits don’t understand the value in ensuring their website is accessible. For many nonprofits, (whether they know it or not) it is already mandatory and for the rest, it soon will be.

According to FMJ Law, “if your organization receives federal financial assistance such as grants or loans, it is also subject to section 504.” Just a reminder, Section 504 entails no one can be discriminated against based on a disability. This also means any major activities an organization has must be adapted so that all people can participate. Learn more with this breakdown of the law

When it comes to your website, this means it needs to be navigable for people with disabilities.

To understand more on what this means for you, we held an event, “The Human, Design, and Legal Implications of Web Accessibility,” last March and have since, gathered the presentations. Here’s what we have.

Web Accessibility Resource Center

View the full video of the event from our recording on Facebook Live.

Presentations from our panelists

Accessible 360 helped us understand the definition of web accessibility, why it matters, and what to do about it.

Download presentation here.

Download presentation here

ArcStone Accessibility Content

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video-with-jessie-expert-on-accessbility

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More links and resources:

An offer from our team

Want to know if your site is accessible and get some help if it isn’t?

Contact our team for a free consultation »

4 fundraising metrics to start prioritizing (and 4 to stop worrying about) [Infographic]

Fundraising can be all-consuming for your nonprofit. Yes, it’s all about the cause, but we also know how much of a nonprofit’s day-to-day functioning revolves around a budget.

A common temptation is to put all your energy to continue to grow this budget, but a wise guy once said, “you are what you measure.” When it comes to fundraising, measurement matters.

Knowing this, a recent email subject line caught my attention, “Fundraising Metrics You Should Care About.” It made me pause, as it seems like there’s sometimes too many numbers to track – could we be overlooking some of them?

The headline was from Brady at re:charity. His post featured four metrics nonprofits often waste their time on and then four that are often neglected. If you take the latter four and really study them, this could have a great impact on your nonprofit long term.

We decided to take this post and illustrate the points through an infographic. See the full infographic by clicking on the preview below – Fundraising Metrics Your Nonprofit Should Care More About:

How to find an SEO agency for your nonprofit

We’ve had several nonprofit clients reach out, asking why we didn’t warn them about an SEO issue with their site. We then explain to them, the reality is their site doesn’t have an issue, and instead an agency is merely trying to scare them into purchasing their SEO service.

Our VP of marketing Lisa told me about this scenario, and has pulled together some ideas to help your nonprofit avoid falling for this scare tactic. In the end, hopefully you find a quality SEO agency for your nonprofit.

Some of these emails are more threatening than others. The one below is pretty gentle in comparison to others but it usually goes something like this:

seo-agency-scare-tactics

You can pretty much bet on the fact that this agency hasn’t actually looked at your site. They merely used a template email and plopped in your nonprofit’s name. Don’t fall for it.

First you might ask, “why do agencies use this SEO email?”

The major problem is that this email works. SEO is confusing and can take a lot of time to fix, so when people are offered an “easy solution” or “quick fix” they often latch onto it.

This stems from the evolution of SEO. At first, people used “black-hat” techniques to hack Google’s algorithms. They even sometimes worked. But Google, as per usual, has out-smarted those and now penalizes people for those. As a result, there really isn’t a quick fix.

Why these low-quality agencies don’t help

SEO is many things, but it’s definitely not something you can hack. It takes time, content and a true understanding of your audience. If a company is sending you a template email to save time, it’s unlikely they will give your website the individual time and attention it needs to develop quality SEO.

If you really need help with SEO, here’s how to find a quality SEO agency:

  1. Check to see how they map out deliverables: If an SEO agency promises #1 organic rankings overnight, they’re not being honest or realistic with you. Look for an SEO agency that sets realistic, measurable goals.
  2. They should follow modern strategies and best practices: Make sure that the agency you choose, stays current. They should be aware of algorithm updates and changes in the industry and they shouldn’t use any black-hat SEO tactics that may end up damaging your nonprofit brand or reputation.
  3. They shouldn’t be solely trumpeting where they fall on a list: Be cautious of choosing an SEO agency because they were voted “Top SEO Expert” by an organization that you’ve never heard of. These are often paid listings and require no real skills or experience.
  4. Look for a Google Partner Certification: If they are certified, they’ll have a Google Partner badge on their site. This ensures that the agency is staying in touch with digital marketing tools and has an understanding of Google Analytics.
  5. Their style should emphasize trust, transparency and communication Style: A reputable SEO agency will answer your questions and be straightforward. They won’t play games or try to trick you into an SEO program. They will always try to meet or exceed your expectations. Make sure the SEO agency you choose understands your organization and takes time to listen.

The next time you get one of these emails, don’t panic. If you are really concerned about your SEO, this email can serve as a good reminder to research SEO agencies and find a good fit for you. Your nonprofit deserves the best, so hopefully now, you seek it out!