It’s time to create a strategy for your website that will increase your fundraising

Written by
Beate Sørum
March 18, 2015

People come to you for the content on your website and it is time to give it as much consideration as you do to its hierarchy (how it is structured and built).

The traditional way of working with the web is by starting with the home page, cutting everyone an equal slice of it and filling your allotted silo with constantly produced and rarely revised content. If you're serious about making your website work for you, this approach won't do anymore.

Content guru Kristina Halvorson ( defines a strategy for content as:

'Planning for the creation, delivery and governance.'

Briefly, governance of a website is structure of staff, technical systems, policies and procedures to maintain and manage useful, usable content.

Usually, we stop after creation – just piling on more and more content, forgetting the most important part: governance of useful, usable content.

This, sadly, is the state of affairs for most websites. The only way to stop the madness is to start at the beginning; you have to ask why you even have a website.

Step 1: what do you want with the web?

Stop the madness by starting at the beginning: why do you even have a website?

A fun experiment is to put this question to people in different parts of your organisation. Ask them why they think you have a website. You are guaranteed to get replies like:

'To inform people.'

'Because we have to be on the Internet.'

'So people can read about our work.'

And so it goes on. If you get replies like this it means you are either lacking a good strategy for your website, or you haven't communicated it very well.

Keep asking yourself the 'why' question until you are left with three to five business goals for your site, which have to be actionable and measurable. Or, at least, you have to be able to measure how you reached them. For instance if you have improved your organisation's reputation how did you achieve it: was it surveys, media queries, positive media coverage?

Your website doesn’t have to serve all your business goals. Some might be better achieved through other platforms.

These 'measurables' have to be connected to your overall business goals but, importantly, the website does not have to serve them all. Some might be better reached through other platforms, perhaps by writing a book, seeking out community groups, or public relations. Just because something is important to your organisation it does not mean it has to be on the website. The business goals of your website are a very important parameter for how you will run it, so you need authority to act on them. These three to five business goals (in prioritised order) should therefore be decided by senior management and guided by someone who understands the web.

Step 2: who’s your audience?

You need to agree on your audience, it’s a big mistake to try to talk to everyone.

You need to agree who is your audience; it is rarely a good strategy to talk to everyone. It won't matter if you write brilliant content for 18 year olds if your boss feels you should be talking to politicians.

So who are you talking to? Is it potential donors, existing donors, government, researchers, user groups for which you provide support? Again, the management should decide the most important audiences, ranked in order of importance. You can have primary and secondary groups, but their ranking should be determined by who you have in mind when you are deciding what goes on the web page and writing the content.

Step 3: what do the users want?

The Internet is a 'pull' medium. It won't matter what the organisation wants, if the users are not interested. So put some effort into finding out what your users want from your website.

Interview selected staff from different parts of the organisation ­– ask them what content is most often requested. Your donor service team will tell you the questions that are often asked. Talk to actual and potential users – ask them why they come to your web page, what are they are looking for?

Consult statistics like Google analytics to see what people really do. You could also carry out a survey to reach more people. If you want to be really thorough, I recommend a process such as Customer Carewords by Gerry McGovern ( Then you will know, without a doubt, what your users want.

Step 4: create that content and lead your users

You don’t want dead ends. Make sure you have paths on your website that will lead your users to other areas after their initial visit.

Great! Now you know what you and your donors want, start making that content. Your key content, the core pages, is where your users' needs and your business goals overlap. This is the content they will seek – make sure it's good.

The core model (developed by Norwegian agency Netlife Research) makes sure that you have good paths forward for your users once they've found what they came to your site for. What could you lead them to do next? Donate, sign something, read some more? Make sure there are no dead ends on your web page.

Step 5: revise and delete, repeat

Your website isn’t an archive of everything you have ever published.

Only post new content if it supports your users' needs or your business goals. Have a plan for revising all your content as often as needed. Some content needs to be reviewed frequently, other pieces may live happily for a year before you have to look at them again. As long as you have a plan, and follow it, frequency is up to you.

When the time comes for revision, update anything that needs updating: numbers, dates, opinions, etc. Maybe the page can be deleted. Don't treat the Internet as an archive of everything you have ever published. Delete things that no one ever sees, that do not meet your standards, or simply are no longer needed. The delete button is your best friend.

About the author: Beate Sørum

Beate Sørum

Beate is a well known international public speaker, and she runs digital fundraising consultancy b.bold. The B represents her name, bold is how she tries to live and being bold is what she tries to help her clients to be.

Beate has more than five years of digital fundraising expertise, particularly working at the Norwegian Cancer Society, where she doubled the digital fundraising return amongst other things. You can find lots of posts about how she did this in her blog.

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