Do you know what your website is worth? Its return-on-investment? Is it bringing in donations, or sucking up vital funds?
Questions like these are a litmus test for effective digital fundraising and marketing. Many organizations have a website without knowing exactly what value it brings to them … but if this is the case, why have one? Just because you feel like you should isn’t a strong enough reason, especially as a budget-minded, bootstrapping nonprofit.
Knowing your website’s worth is something you simply need to do, because it’s immensely beneficial for you and your nonprofit. It will make you money, save you headaches, and even accelerate your nonprofit’s growth. Below are three reasons it’s absolutely critical for any prudent and effective fundraising professional in 2018.
It could be wasting money
Websites are ubiquitous in our modern world, which means they’re accepted without scrutiny. Many nonprofits I speak with seem to view their website as a really expensive business card: you “need” to have it, and it’s important that it looks nice, but it doesn’t do much besides provide basic info about your organization. It can seem like just another thing you “need” to keep up with the times.
But if you want to be a good steward of your nonprofit’s funds, it’s vital to know your website’s worth. Just about every month I talk to a new organization ready to spend 2, 5, even 10 thousand dollars on a new website, and when I ask them why they’re starting this process they say: “Well, it’s just time for an update.” Would you drop $10,000 of other people’s money on anything else just because “it’s time”?
Knowing your website’s worth is the antidote to this cycle, and luckily it’s not hard to do. Just look over the statement of how many people donated online last month. This is a quick-and-dirty approximation of your website’s worth.
With this number in hand, you can now quantify the result of improvements you make to the website. You can reveal how much it really is costing or producing for you. And you can begin to understand what motivates your audience to act. This is the foundation on which you can build an effective website and digital marketing strategy.
It could be wasting your time
Now that you have a baseline of numbers, signals, and insights to build on, you can start considering how to use your website as an effective fundraising tool. With just a few metrics, you can start asking questions—and actually have the answers—about what’s worth spending your time on.
For example, when your boss wants to add another email blast to the schedule, take a look at the stats. How many people clicked through from the last one? Did they actually follow through with an action on the website? Or, if you feel pressure to post on Facebook more often, do those new posts result in any additional donations, volunteers, or email signups?
Thanks to your website analytics, you can quantify all of these questions and provide firm “yes” or “no” answers as to whether they’re useful. Then, you can use these answers to prioritize your tasks, keep yourself from burning out, and back up your claims when you tell your boss that it’s probably not a good use of your time.
It could be stalling your growth
Let’s think even bigger. Now that you know your current website’s state and can measure any improvements, you can radically change the way you think about your resources and use your website to accelerate growth.
So, you’ve moved from “This sounds like a good idea!” to “Does the data show this is a good idea?” and from “How much can we spare for the website?” to “What’s a wise amount to invest to accomplish what we need?”
That means you’re not just working in communications, but you’re also a scientist—trying out different hypotheses, measuring the results, and learning from the analysis.
These experiments are engines for growth, and rapid growth at that. You’re no longer the organization that blew $10k on a website update; now, you’re the nonprofit who turned $1,000 into a 35 percent increase in online donations! When you know your website’s worth, you don’t have to grope around in the dark, hoping for something to make a difference. Instead, you’re efficient, calm, and relentless, breaking record after record through continuous experimentation.
All this is possible just because you took a moment to find out your website’s worth. You can replace hours wasted on ineffective website updates and conversations of “We just don’t have money for that right now,” with the triumphant feeling you get from growing your website’s worth. If you want to be an effective communications professional, this skill really is where you need to begin.
If you’d like to learn more about using data to dramatically grow your nonprofit, be sure to join my upcoming free webinar, “How to Use Data to Grow Your Membership in Just 1 Hour a Month,” hosted by Wild Apricot on November 16 at 2 p.m. ET as part of the Wild Apricot Membership Growth Summit.
In our webinar, I’ll show you:
- The 3-step process that will guarantee consistent growth in memberships
- How to track and analyze growth using free tools
- Real-world examples of how this process has helped other organizations
I hope to see you there!
Jason Jensen is a proponent for lean, data-driven marketing and how it can help nonprofits create growth, even with limited resources. He primarily advocates for data-driven methods in his role as owner of The Digital Nonprofit, a marketing agency exclusively serving small-to-medium nonprofits. Jason lives in South Philadelphia with his wife, Jess.