Traditional Campaigns
Fundraising Online
Internet Marketing
Development Services
Resources and Articles
About Affinity Resources
Contact Affinity Resources
Request Alerts

You are here: Home > Resources & Articles > 12 Website Makeover Essentials

Change text size:   A   A   A
Affinity Resources logo: Fundraising Counsel for a changing world
877-320-2299 toll free
Search: Advanced


When did your website last have a make-over? If it's been more than 2 years you should plan now for a significant update. It won't cost as much as you might think!

Here are 12 website upgrades that we believe most small to medium sized nonprofits should install.

– Many websites are hard to read. So most of us don't really read online, we scan. Densely packed type is hard to scan. If you increase the white space between lines it will help folks absorb your site. Did your Web Designer create your site using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)? If so s/he can open up your text in less than 10 minutes.

-- Did your Web Designer create your site using Dreamweaver Templates? If so, you can use Contribute 3 software to edit your content in-house much as you would any word-processing document. Don't buy an expensive content management system unless you have more than 50 web pages and a significant amount of content that changes at least weekly.

-- Edit your text to communicate your message in fewer words. Divide long sentences into two. Use the active voice. Expect most visitors to scan your text. Write in headers and lists. You can make all these changes in-house if you've implemented the previous two suggestions.

– Drop down or slide-out menus are a significant aid to site navigation. Visitors expect to find the information they seek quickly. If you have more than 15 web pages you should probably add drop down menus.

– If you must have an fancy graphic on a splash page, put it on a corner of your home page. Use your home page to help your web audience self identify their interest area and thereby reduce and prioritize the menu offerings that they see. A school should have different menu offerings for each of its different constituencies: Students, Faculty, Parents, Alumni, Admissions, Job Seekers. The home page should only present information that would be of interest to most of those groups, with links to audience-specific sub-homes.

– The main resources for search engine results are Google, MSN, and Open Directory Project. If you can't be found in them, you can't be found. Getting high rankings is called "Search Engine Optimization" or SEO. It is a challenge if you're competing for a single search word like "Alzheimers" or "Stroke". If you can, use two words plus a regional element like "Ohio Summer Camp." It will be easier to get high listings in part because the competition isn't competing. Hire someone with a strong record of SEO success. Success is time-consuming and not for novices.

- Your online and offline presentation should be similar. Use one logo. Use the same colors. If your site was designed by a volunteer, it may be time to upgrade to a professional graphic designer. But be sure to shower your volunteer with thanks and celebrate how important volunteer efforts were in taking your first steps online. We all hate to see our creative work "retired." Without that volunteer, you wouldn't be ready to upgrade. Make your look consistent with hardcopy materials.


– Receiving financial contributions can be as simple as purchasing a plug-in service. Many vendors provide applications that process online donations. The web is not a subtle medium. Your "ask" should be clear and direct. Tell your donor prospects what past gifts have done and what their gifts will do now. Almost every page should have a donation link.

– When you have a visitor, you want to know their name and address so that you can build a relationship. What you do with that information is a different problem. Contact data captured in simple form can be sent to multiple locations. A broadcast listserv is an inexpensive place to capture everything. You can get the names and addresses off the listserv if you need to. It gives people a handy way to opt-out. The listserv will allow you to broadcast news and appeals to a receptive audience. Be sure to send information that is fresh and of value.

– PDF is a great way to distribute information that you have already created with a word processor. You can create a simple link to a PDF file and it will display automatically in most browsers. If you're a Mac user you can create PDF documents just by using the print function. Microsoft users must buy Adobe's Acrobat program. That software (also available to Macs) generally results in smaller PDF file sizes. It gives the added options of protecting documents from copying and password protection to prevent opening by unwanted eyes.

– Communicate with your online constituents at least quarterly but not more than once a month. We prefer a single page, html formatted email that is attractive and presents a limited amount of information in an organized, visually appealing manor. Alternatively, a very brief summary with a direct link to the details in a web page or a PDF document also works well. Our favorite is a careful combination of these two approaches.

– there are two important ways to attract volunteers. First, post your needs attractively on your site and provide an easy-to-complete registration form that can be delivered to you via email. When someone shows interest, respond quickly. To cast a wider net, be sure to register your organization at -- it may be the best resource on the Internet!

Feedback is important to us. Please let us know if you found this article helpful:

Select Your Rating: Yes, it was extremely helpful.
Very helpful.
Sort of helpful.
Not very helpful.
First and Last Names (optional):
E-mail address (optional, to join our mailing list):
Click to send:
Contact Us | Ethics | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Web Design | AffinityReports | Home