Are you getting the courage to pitch a new website to the powers that be at your nonprofit? Before you make an impassioned plea about why you need a new website, build your case by using more accessible terminology, gathering evidence and using compelling facts.
Translate Techy Website Terms
When it comes to talking websites, chances are that you’re the most knowledgeable person in the room. You know the trends and best practices, but using more technical website and marketing language can add unnecessary confusion and put people on the defensive.
It’s more important to be confident in your pitch than try to look smart giving it. It’s to your advantage to help your audience focus on the big picture and not their own technological insecurities.
Instead of diving into UX or the intricacies of important functionality, practice translating more technical terms into concepts and examples that help to make your point. Here’s a list of potential terms and how you might present them instead.
“People are more likely to take action on our website and find the information they need when our website automatically resizes to display correctly on the device they’re using, like tablets and phones.”
“To make sure that our visitors don’t get frustrated and leave, we need to make sure that we have a website that can be updated frequently, whether that’s to protect us against hacking, use the latest versions of software, or keep the content fresh.”
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
“There are a lot of people out there who could benefit from our services or would be natural supporters, so we want to make sure they can find our website through search engines like Google even if they don’t know the name of our organization or programs.” (Here are a few more tips for explaining SEO.)
“Payment processors like PayPal or Stripe help move money from a donor’s bank account or credit card company to our account when they use a donation form on our website. And then we don’t have to deal with storing and protecting card information.” (Feel free to steal the graphic on the page for our online donation system!)
Constituent Relationship Management (CRM)
“By making a new website that seamlessly syncs up with our donor database, we’ll save time moving data around and be able to build relationships using more up-to-date information about their interests and activities.”
Content Management System (CMS)
“Unlike a basic website that’s difficult to update and more of a static brochure, using a powerful platform or software will help us manage and change what’s on our site over time without needing to learn how to code.”
Usability and Accessibility
“To best serve our constituents, we need to build a site that people can easily click around, read text, or complete a form—especially for people that have different abilities.” (You can also describe other signs of user-friendly websites.)
“When we log into the administrative side of our website, having an easy-to-use dashboard means that we’ll be able to make more of the updates ourselves and keep things running smoothly.”
“It’s important that all our website’s pages be organized and displayed in a way that people can find what they’re looking for no matter which page they enter the site.” (Find more navigation-related definitions in our guide to nonprofit website structures.)
Gather Evidence & Data
While some boards and decision makers care a lot about data, that’s not often the case. You want to have enough evidence to support your reasons to build a new website, but not so much that you overwhelm people with numbers. Keep most of it in your back pocket to use when answering questions.
Here’s what we suggest gathering up before you make your case, including some tips on where to get the information using free tools.
- Know your website speed.
- Run a site crawl to find page errors.
- Grade your site with an accessibility checker.
- Pull website traffic numbers for the last year with Google Analytics dashboards.
- Tally your website’s goal completions for the last year, like the amount of online donations or email sign-ups.
- Estimate the amount of time spent on website maintenance this year.
- Estimate the time spent handling website problems this year.
- Calculate the amount of money spent on website support and maintenance.
- Estimate the amount of downtime your website and key features, like online donation forms, have had in the past year.
- Estimate the amount of staff time that could be saved on a weekly basis if the website did a better job answering questions, offering information or providing more services.
If you run into trouble collecting data because of your site’s current limitations (like not being integrated with Google Analytics), be sure to use that as another selling point for making a change!
Go Beyond Website Data
Not all evidence will be in the numbers:
- Create a survey or run a focus group to get input from your core website users.
- Solicit cross-team input on the website from within your organization.
- Take screenshots that demonstrate how the current site doesn’t match your brand.
- Identify organizational goals and new developments in your programs or services that don’t line up with your site’s functionality.
- Identify missing features or unfixable problems that can’t be solved using your current platform or design.
Reference Industry Trends & Benchmarks
In addition to your own data, come ready with the added context of what’s happening in the nonprofit and marketing worlds more generally. It’s helpful to be able to compare yourself against industry benchmarks and similar organizations out there. Knowing what’s standard among the sector also makes your request seem fair and more realistic.
As with all data, the trick here is to translate this information into selling points that will resonate with decision makers. Be sure to explain how these things matter in real terms, whether it’s showing that a new website is the perfect tool to reach new audiences or that supporters really care about a secure online donation form in order to give.
To get started, here are a few places to look for metrics to make your case.
- M+R Benchmarks
- The Next Generation of American Giving
- 2018 Global NGO Technology Report
- Pew Research Center
Swipe Our Website Facts & Stats Sheet
We’ve done the hard work for you! Boost your website pitch with 25 compelling facts and statistics from trustworthy sources about the power of effective nonprofit websites.
Make a stronger case for why you need a new website by taking the time to prepare and consider your audience. Managing up at nonprofits means taking the time to consider your organization’s culture, processes and shared values and goals—and giving a pitch for anything new or different is an opportunity to build your own skills as a communicator, strategist and leader.
What other questions do you have about preparing background information for a pitch? Or, for folks on the other side of the pitch, what details have helped you support an investment in a new website? Let’s exchange ideas in the comments.