Hooking fish but not landing them

I am dedicating this week’s blog posts to exploring ePhilanthropy related topics. Since this field of resource development is still cutting edge (or should I say bleeding edge), I encourage everyone who is dabbling, experimenting and playing with tools in this field to please weigh-in using the comment section of this blog. Today, I turn my attention to websites.

Well, here we are … back at square one — “The Beginning”. I can imagine that this entire ePhilanthropy thing started a long time ago at the start of the digital revolution when one resource development professional asked themselves: “Hmmm … my donors online are all hanging out online. I wonder how I can using my agency’s website to raise money?”

So, talking about websites seems like a very anti-climatic way to end the week. Right?

If you responded in the affirmative, then I beg to differ because the issue with ePhilanthropy is how quickly technology changes. In my opinion, there is a real danger is in forgetting about one of the most basic building blocks (e.g. website) and getting distracted by the new shiny objects (social media, online videos, etc).

Still skeptical? Think of it this way … your organization’s website is like “home base” for your entire ePhilanthropy program. Your social media, online video and email strategies are like a “fishing pole, line and hook” is to a fisherman.

Let’s take an example from my blog post yesterday about online videos. I posted a YouTube link to an online video solicitation from Chris Salvatore on behalf of the Gay American Heroes Foundation. I talked about the effectiveness of the video and admitted that immediately after viewing it, I had wanted to make a donation, but I never did. The reason I didn’t donate was because of the foundation’s website. Click here to check it out.

Do you see what I mean? Their website is a mess. It is full of emotion, but it was hard for me to quickly determine what they plan to do with my donation and what the “return on investment” would be.

Your organization’s website is your face on the information super-highway. You can hook all the fish you want using tools like Facebook, Twitter, online videos, and email; however, you will never land those fish if you cannot instill confidence and clearly communicate your case. Online donors turn to your website to find this info. If it looks like you just vomited a website into cyberspace, trust me when I tell you: “it kills the mood as well as the will to donate”.

Creating your organization’s website is complicated because it involves skill sets in the following areas: technology, marketing & communication, and internet practices (e.g. search engine optimization, etc). However, if you want to be “donor-centered” in an online environment, then you need to be really good at ALL of these things (or outsource some or all of it to professionals who can help you).

With that being said, I strongly believe in life-long learning. You might not able able to be an expert in all things pertaining to websites, but it is possible to become knowledgeable enough. This is important because only you can make the strategic decisions that are important to your resource development and ePhilanthropy programs. For this reason, I was so excited to find all sorts of free online resources (e.g. articles, trainings, etc) from Network for Good on their online learning center website. Click here to see all sorts of resources pertaining to websites.

I bit off more than I can chew with this topic, so I will carry it over into part of next week.  Do you have any best practices to share with regards to your website? How do you fit your website into a comprehensive ePhilanthropy strategy? How does your ePhilanthropy strategy fit into your comprehensive resource development plan? In what ways have you exported the ideas of  “Donor-Centered Fundraising TM”?  We can learn from each other!

Here is to your health!

Erik Anderson
Owner, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC


  1. Could not agree more that an organization’s website is its “home-base”. In my new position here at the PCBCF we took a look this week at our “Social Media” face, Portage County Connects, which has been a bit ignored in the last few months as they got through some staff changes. Quickly updated the twitter handle, a new contributed blog post and some plans for facebook events and PC Connects is back up in social media cyber space looking for bites. The most important function of those tools? To drive users back to our website, where the real data is. I’m a big believer that everything should be relevant and should include a link back…hook and reel. Network for Good has great resources, and lately I’ve enjoyed GrantSpace.org, their live chats are fantastic and archived. 🙂

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sarah. I have been guilty of the mini- email novel when talking to donors, but I’ve seen the light and now believe in short emails and e-newsletters with click-through links that drive traffic back to the website. I am so happy to hear others that believe the same things. Thanks on behalf of all my readers for suggesting the GrantSpace.org resource. I will definitely check it out! Thanks again … ~Erik

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