ForeSee Results (a leader in online customer satisfaction measurement) released a study last spring that examined nonprofit websites and concluded that websites are an essential area of focus for nonprofits during difficult financial times. The report states, "It is essential, now more than ever, to gain intelligence on how to use the website to its fullest potential as a way to reduce costs, generate donations and revenue, and build membership, loyalty, and positive word-of-mouth. "
It goes on to say, "Even though nonprofits don’t have the same resources to invest in their websites as private sector companies, unfortunately, they are judged by the same standards."
We agree. Your website has to compete side by side with "the best of the best". What can you do about it? Here are the key findings from that report.
- Nonprofits have plenty of room for improvement when it comes to online customer satisfaction. On the 100-point scale used for the study, the average nonprofit website scores a 73. The threshold for excellence in website satisfaction is generally considered to be 80. Even though nonprofits don’t have the same resources to invest in their websites as private sector companies,unfortunately, they are judged by the same standards. Therefore, it’s crucial that nonprofits understand how to allocate resources by investing in the areas of their websites that will increase satisfaction and make visitors more likely to donate, volunteer, recommend, etc.
- Satisfaction is predictive of future behaviors important to nonprofits. A highly satisfied visitor to a nonprofit website is:
- 49% more likely to donate
- 38% more likely to volunteer
- 57% more likely to have a favorable overall impression of the organization
- 65% more likely to recommend the site to others
- 55% more likely to return to the site
- Key areas of improvement for nonprofit websites, in general, are sites’ functionality and the expression of the organization’s image online. In general, the areas that will have the greatest impact on visitors’ likelihood to donate, volunteer, recommend, and return are site functionality (the usefulness, variety, and convenience of features on the site) and image (how well the website reflects the organization’s image). These two factors were more impactful in driving website satisfaction than sites’ content, navigation options, or look and feel.
- Nonprofits need to encourage more people to donate online instead of through other channels. Site visitors who donate online are more likely to donate, period. Making it easy for visitors to donate online is critical to growing the pool of repeat donors. In addition, nonprofits will see more of the money if donations are made through the more cost-effective web channel.
- Site visitors value online information and donation capability. The top two reasons people visit nonprofit sites are: news and events (40%) and to stay informed about the cause the organization addresses (40%). Almost one in five (18%) website visitors are there specifically to make a financial contribution.
- People listen to outside sources. Almost one in five who visited a nonprofit site found out about the organization through word-of-mouth, and visitors who found the site through the media or a news story were the most likely to donate.
- The election year had a very small impact on donations to nonprofits. Only 3% of all respondents said that political donations reduced the amount they donated to other organizations in 2008