6 Charities Worth Supporting on North Texas Giving Day

6 Charities Worth Supporting on North Texas Giving Day

[vc_row unlock_row_content=”yes” row_height_percent=”0″ overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ shift_y=”0″][vc_column column_width_percent=”72″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Today, we’re volunteering at the North Texas Food Bank, helping that incredible organization feed the hungry in and around North Texas. And in the spirit of helping others, we thought we’d take some time to highlight some of our favorite local charities in advance of tomorrow’s North Texas Giving Day. Any donation you make through the North Texas Giving Day website between 6:00 am and midnight on Thursday, September 23 to one of the many participating charities is amplified thanks to a pool of bonus funds. Although you can certainly donate to any of the organizations below at any time, North Texas Giving Day is a great day to do it if you’re interested in making a difference financially.

So tomorrow, consider making a donation to one of these organizations or by visiting www.NorthTexasGivingDay.org and searching for the non-profit closest to you!

North Texas Food Bank
Allison Dupuis

2015_ntfb_logoA lot of the issues we think about with food insecurity seem far away, like they’re all happening in countries like Ethiopia or Syria. It can often make us feel helpless. While it’s true there are plenty of hungry people all over the world, there are also tens of thousands right here at home. And the good news is that there is an organization doing something every single day to help.
In 2015, the NTFB provided access to 63 million meals. It takes an incredible amount of food, planning, organization, storage, and—most importantly—donations to make what they do possible. This North Texas Giving Day, consider donating to the NTFB, where one dollar equals three meals for a hungry North Texan.

Visit the North Texas Food Bank at the North Texas Giving Day website to learn more. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row unlock_row_content=”yes” row_height_percent=”58″ back_image=”49253″ back_attachment=”fixed” back_position=”center center” parallax=”yes” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ shift_y=”0″][vc_column column_width_percent=”100″ position_vertical=”middle” align_horizontal=”align_center” override_padding=”yes” column_padding=”2″ overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/1″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row unlock_row_content=”yes” row_height_percent=”0″ overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ shift_y=”0″][vc_column column_width_percent=”72″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ z_index=”0″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Rachel Pinn

fossilrimMost people think that Fossil Rim is a dinosaur park where you can see fossils. Not exactly. Fossil Rim is a 1,800-acre wildlife preserve that focuses on breeding, caring for, and sustaining over 1,000 animals. It includes 50 species of native and non-native animals, many of whom are endangered. On a scenic drive through the park in your car or via a guided tour, you can see foxes, cheetahs, rhinos, giraffes, all sorts of hoofstock and birds, and much more. These animals are beautiful up close, but they need our help to sustain their beautiful home for years to come. Besides caring for the animals, your donation also helps fund the many exchange, conservation, and breeding efforts undertaken at Fossil Rim.

Visit Fossil Rim at the North Texas Giving Day website to learn more.

ALS Texas
Rachel Taylor

ALS Texas ChapterUntil recently, my knowledge of and exposure to ALS was shamefully limited to the Ice Bucket Challenge that took the internet by storm in 2014. Over the course of the past year, however, I’ve been very fortunate to work closely with the ALS Association of Texas. I’ve not only learned more about the disease itself, but also about the innumerable people impacted by ALS: The caregivers and volunteers, the friends, families and children, the people who walk and fundraise, and of course the patients themselves.

Through my work with the ALS Association of Texas, I saw firsthand how tirelessly they work to coordinate fundraisers, provide support, and raise awareness for ALS. Whether you register for a walk, volunteer, or make a donation, this North Texas Giving Day learn how you can get involved and support the ALS Association of Texas. Visit the ALS Association of Texas at the North Texas Giving Day website to learn more.

National Breast Cancer Foundation
Cameron Gawley

National Breast Cancer Foundation15 years ago I was running a Dallas-based computer company, and on a routine computer maintenance call, I met Janelle Hail. Janelle was the founder of the National Breast Cancer Foundation, or NBCF. At 34 years old, Janelle had found herself battling breast cancer. While in the hospital she quickly learned that there was a lack of information about breast cancer available to women. That was the point where Janelle set out to change the world regarding education around breast cancer.

Breast Cancer is one of the leading health crises for women in the United States. 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in their lifetime. The National Breast Cancer Foundation’s mission is to provide help and inspire hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education, and support services. They have helped over 350,000 women in need with services such as free mammograms and other breast health services. Their Early Detection Plan app helps women catch breast cancer in its earliest stages, when it is easiest to treat, while Beyond the Shock gives breast cancer survivors a place to connect, ask questions, and learn more about the disease. It’s all made possible only through your donation.

Visit the National Breast Cancer Foundation at the North Texas Giving Day website to learn more.

Seed Effect
Eddy Badrina

Seed EffectAs an entrepreneur, I know how hard it is to start a business from scratch, and how meaningful it is to provide for my family. However, my own experience pales in comparison to the thought of starting a business in a war-torn country, with little infrastructure or financial support. This situation is exactly where Seed Effect fills the gap. It provides microfinance loans and empowers savings groups in South Sudan, the newest country in the world, and the second most unstable one (behind only Somalia).

Having traveled to South Sudan last year with my wife, Rachel, I have seen the courage that it takes for these women (and some men) to stick it out and become stable community pillars in the most unstable of places. Although Seed Effect can’t participate in Giving Day, they ARE receiving a $50,000 matching grant for all donations today. Consider giving to Seed Effect or joining me at their 7th anniversary party at Life in Deep Ellum.

Visit Seed Effect’s ReInvest page to learn more.

The Family Place
Rachel Taylor

The work that The Family Place does changes lives, and at a time when violence against women makes daily headlines, the impact of this organization is only heightened. 38% of Texas women have experienced some type of domestic violence in their lifetime. The Family Place provides everything from emergency shelter for immediate care to transitional housing, counseling, legal services, and on-site safe learning centers for children affected by family violence.

Besides donating to The Family Place on North Texas Giving Day, you can also support them by shopping. Although shopping might not seem to be an impactful way to help those in need, over the past 23 years the Family Place’s premier fundraiser, the Partners Card, has helped raise over $16,000,000. 100% of the Partners Card purchase goes directly to supporting survivors of family violence. Find out more about The Family Place, their services or how to purchase a Partners Card for the 2016 event today!

Visit The Family Place at the North Texas Giving Day website to learn more.

If there is a particular charity you’d like to support, you can find out if it is participating by searching on the North Texas Giving Day site. You could also help out all of the organizations by donating to the bonus funds.

Thanks for joining us in making a difference![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

14 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

14 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

[vc_row][vc_column column_width_percent=”75″ position_vertical=”middle” overlay_alpha=”50″ gutter_size=”3″ medium_width=”0″ shift_x=”0″ shift_y=”0″ z_index=”0″][vc_column_text]After auditing a mass number of charity websites recently, one thing became painfully clear: nonprofits and charitable organizations have a lot of catching up to do in the digital sphere. For every truly good nonprofit website you find, there are at least a dozen other examples of what NOT to do.

And bigger is not necessarily better in this case. If you want your nonprofit to stand out among the rest, don’t look for inspiration from the big charities, where decisions about websites are slow and arduous and usually back-of-mind.

Instead, here are some best practices for nonprofit websites with examples pulled from some charities that are more or less getting it right.

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Look Beyond the Homepage

The homepage is becoming less and less relevant. Sure, it serves many functions. It represents your brand/organization, and in many cases it’s the first introduction to your brand for people who search for your organization by name or navigate directly to your URL.

It is also the most unfocused page, because it has to consider the needs and motivations of every potential audience member, as well as introducing your organization and explaining why someone should care.

In contrast, interior pages on the website are usually much more focused on a particular aspect of your nonprofit’s mission. They therefore show up in search engine results more, and are also more likely to get a user to take an action, such as “donating” or “starting a fundraiser.”

The fact is, if your website is serving up fresh content and has a lot of useful, focused interior pages, then many of your first-time visitors are entering your website on an interior page – not your homepage.

Take a look at your web analytics information about your most-visited pages. You may be surprised. In a lot of cases, your homepage may not be in the top 10. If this is the case for your organization, you may want to adjust your focus off of your homepage and look more closely at the user experience on your interior pages.

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Quickly Communicate Your Core Purpose and Communicate it on Every Page

Once your page loads, users form an opinion in 0.5 seconds. You have 10 seconds to leave an impression and tell them what they’ll get out of your website and company. After this time (and oftentimes before), they’ll leave. – NN Group

A very clear, simple, and understandable mission is essential for helping people understand the ultimate value your nonprofit brings. Not all users will be introduced to your site via the homepage, so make sure your audience knows what you do no matter what page they land on.

Quickly Communicate Your Core Purpose

Core Purpose 2

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Tell a Story

Consumers want to be told a story. According to survey conducted by Adobe & research firm Edelman Berland, 73% agreed that brands should tell a unique story.

There are always opportunities to tell stories. It makes content so much more compelling when it is presented in the context of a story. Make sure your organization is taking advantage of the stories behind how your nonprofit began, why your cause matters, and who your organization is helping, and make sure that content is communicated on your website.

Tell A Story - Invisible Children

Invisible Children tells the story of their organization and cause in a compelling and bold way. It is also the first call-to-action on their homepage.

Tell A Story - LINK

Liberty in North Korea tells the stories of the refugees they have rescued, and includes those stories in numerous places on their website.

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Site Architecture Matters

Well-planned site architecture not only informs search engine bots of the importance of pages in rankings, but it is also important to user experience. Is it easy to find the expected information? What are the real goals of your website? Does the architecture of your site support those goals?

Site Architecture Matters - BCRF

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation has a very clear navigational structure that has sufficient content on their impact as well as organization.

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Each Page is a Journey That Leads to a Goal

What is the ideal outcome for a visitor on each page of the website? Whatever the content is, giving the user a next step will make them stay on the site longer and ultimately convert them to accomplish a goal.

The relevancy of your goals to the content on each page is important. If you have too many goals or calls to action presented to a user on a single page, you’ll be cluttering up your design as well as introducing the paradox of choice. Having too many options can cause visitors to choose “none of the above” and pass up taking any action, simply because it’s too much visual information to digest.

Understand the purpose of each page and narrow down what goals make the most sense to point the visitor towards.

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Be Transparent

According to a study in The Chronicle of Philanthropy,

1 in 3 Americans lack confidence in charities. In deciding where they will donate, 50% of survey respondents said it was “very important” for them to know that charities spend a low amount on salaries, administration, and fundraising; another 34% said it was “somewhat important.”

Transparency - Liberty In North Korea

Liberty In North Korea does a great job of quantifying their impact into real numbers, no matter how small they are. Anywhere you can put a number to something your nonprofit has done, you can better communicate your impact to a potential donor or sponsor. The more transparent your organization is about this, the more trust you will gain with your visitors.

Transparency - Charity WaterTransparency - Charity Water

Another way to put transparency at the forefront is to design your financial/impact reports into something more enjoyable to read. This goes hand-in-hand with storytelling. Utilize storytelling even when you’re presenting financial data and always emphasize the impact of your efforts.

Transparency - Impact Reports - Charity Water

Charity Water’s dynamic annual report is enjoyable to read and also gives you an idea of the culture and people that work at the organization.

Transparency - Impact Reports - Liberty In North Korea

Liberty In North Korea’s 2014 Impact Report quickly emphasizes not only impact numbers but also the stories of the individuals that they have helped.

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Highlight CTAs in Site Navigation

Visually highlight your most significant call to action within your navigation menu. On any page, that goal will be prominent and easily accessible. Secondary CTAs can be a more muted color but still be visually prominent.

Calls to Action in Navigation - Barbells for Boobs

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Make it Mobile-Friendly

Mobile traffic now makes up 50% of all internet traffic. People today expect a great mobile experience. It’s imperative to make mobile content not just passable or functional, but truly seamless and easy.

At this point, this should go without saying. If your website is not mobile optimized, then you are really missing the boat. Unfortunately, looking at many nonprofit websites, the importance of mobile still needs to be emphasized.

Charity Water - Mobile Donate

Charity Water makes it easy to donate on your mobile device.

[wc_fa icon=”check-circle” margin_left=”” margin_right=””][/wc_fa] Optimize Donation Pages

Let’s be frank: getting donations is the main reason many nonprofit websites exist. Since that’s the case, there are a number of things you should do to optimize your donation page:

  • Make it EASY to donate. One-step conversion is becoming increasingly important, because it lowers the barrier to donating. Would you rather fill out a form with 10 fields, or just 4? If more than a few information fields are required, instead of displaying one long form, break it into easily digestible steps with each step on a new page. This “chunking” method is shown to decrease form drop-off rates, and is generally a better user experience.

Make it Easy to Donate - BarackObama.com

  • Use trust indicators. These are things like badges, independent ratings, and financial information displayed for quick reference on the donation page.
  • Make an emotional appeal. For instance, use authentic photography of who you are impacting, as seen below with the Invisible Children donation landing page.

Emotional Appeal - Invisible Children

  • Translate donation amounts into impact made. Translating the value of a donation will help your donors see what kind of impact a certain dollar amount can actually make.

Donations to Impact - LINK

  • Position monthly donations as exclusive programs. Everyone wants to receive recurring donations, because they give you a steady stream of funds without constantly having to recruit new donors. To encourage this, position your monthly donation option as an exclusive program. By playing up exclusivity, community, and recognition, you can help a donor feel more connected to the cause and more appreciated for their support.

Monthly Giving - Possible HealthMonthly Giving - Possible Health

  • Don’t forget about the post-donation experience. Just because you’ve reached your goal of getting a donation doesn’t mean you can just love ‘em and leave ‘em. If you stop the user experience at the donation, you’ll leave people feeling under-appreciated and used. So, after a person has donated, make sure the thank you page shows them your appreciation. Then, make them feel valued with a tailored thank you email, including further steps on how they can continue to support your nonprofit’s mission and cause.

Put these best practices into practice, and your nonprofit organization’s website will start to stand out from the crowd – in a good way. Does your non-profit need a partner to help implement strategies like these for your website? Then drop us a line!

BuzzShift friend and UX Designer, Sarah Sloan, penned this post. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]