Community Web Site For Your Organization's Fundraising
Your community web site will play an ever increasing role in your community organization fundraising. Your first mission is to use the website to help you build a solid relationship with your local community. As the relationship strengthens you can use the website as another way of doing fundraising.
The best option is to have your community web site hosted with some third party company that specializes in web hosting. That means your website will run on their computers and they will make sure its always up and running. Many hosting companies have template websites that you can use as a basis for yours. All you need to do is plug in your content, logo, navigation and off you go.
There are hundreds of hosting companies to choose from. One of the best I have come across is BLUEHOST.COM. But you can compare and contrast by entering the term "website hosting" into the Google search engine. I would recommend getting a hosting company that gives you unlimited email addresses so that you can offer them to your supporters.
The first page of your community web site that visitors normally see is your home page. For that reason it should clearly outline the benefits of your community organization. Your message should always in the limelight. Off course its also important to have a few other small panels on your home page with links to your latest news headlines, events and fundraising activities. The other important part of your home page is its navigation buttons that bring you through to the rest of your sites content.
A very important use of your community web site if to build a contact list of email addresses. Many website owners overlook this important function. This contact list is an important part of your relationship building efforts with your community. When you want people to opt-in to your contact list the best way to achieve this is to get them to sign up for your eZine. An eZine is just your newsletter in electronic format. Now, instead of putting copies of your newsletter in local stores etc, you can email it to everyone at the touch of a button and be sure that they are all getting it.
You can automate the whole opt-in process together with the email delivery of your eZine, by using an auto-responder service such as aweber. If your list is relatively small (i.e. 200 or less) then it might just be as cost effective to maintain it yourself. That way your opt-in form will just cause an email to be sent to you with the subscribers details and youd add them to a distribution list in your email client (and add their other contact details to your database). Then sending your eZine is just a case of sending it to that distribution list.
The content of your community web site will enable people to keep up-to-date with your organizations activities. Update your site regularly so that people will visit regularly and each time they do your benefits will be right there in front of them.
Your community web site is also a great mechanism for driving your fundraising. You can not only sell the organization to provide a foundation for your fundraising, you can actually raise money directly from the site. You can sell membership, lotto, draw tickets, merchandise and anything else that may be of interest to your visitors and supporters.
The more progressive community organizations also sell advertising space on their site. Give several advertising options from the big local merchants at $100-$200 to the local services people at $25-$50. Collecting payments through your community web site is much easier than most people imagine. Have a look at the
page for more details.
The website should also have a section dedicated to exiles (i.e. ex-pats) because often the website is their only way of contributing to your organization. Give them a way of making a one-off donation to your organization (through PayPal). Take advantage of the fact that people who are living away from the community where they grew up often feel homesick and this is a good starting point from which to build to the request. Again, make sure the selling pitch includes your benefits and dont assume people already know them when they are considering whether or not to make a donation.
Another great use of your website is collecting peoples opinions so that you can improve the services you offer. Polls are a good idea as well as a suggestion box.
List your community web site URL, everywhere you can think of: on your membership cards, your headed paper, in your newspaper reports, on the website of your parent organization (if you have one), on letters you send out, on tickets you sell, on menus at functions, on the front of your premises .. Ok, Im sure you get the picture. Your website is a great asset to your community organization, especially in todays society where more and more people are getting on the internet every day.
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