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nonprofit donateThe website of your nonprofit organization is at the center of your online marketing strategy. Therefore, it deserves the maximum effort to create a great, user-friendly website that works 24x7 to fulfill the goals of your nonprofit.

Here are 10 must-have features that can make a successful nonprofit website:

1. User Registration
User Registration is an excellent feature for your non-profit website. It enables serious visitors to establish a long-term connection with your website. The serious users provide you the basic necessary information that identifies them. That allows you to give these users a more privileged access to your website, and share more information with them. It generates good leads for your nonprofit in the long run.

2. Event Calendar
The event calendar helps the visitors to stay abreast of any forthcoming events that your non-profit may be organizing, or may be associated with. It is a good way to promote your events. At the same time, it gives advance information to the interested people who may like to attend or associate themselves with such events.

3. Discussion Forum
You can make your nonprofit website more interactive and participative by providing a separate section for discussions. It can be a moderated forum, or it may allow only registered users to participate, depending upon your needs. It allows members to know each other, and creates a sense of community and belonging among all the participants at your website.

4. Online Interactive Quizzes or Opinion Polls
Add interesting information to your website in the form of an online quiz that is relevant to your non-profit’s mission. It prompts the visitors to engage with your cause in an interesting manner. Opinion Polls can be an equally interactive option for your website. They can also help to highlight the issues or causes that your nonprofit may have espoused.

5. Online Donation Acceptance
Donations are the life blood of any non-profit organization. Make sure that your website has a provision to accept online donations through your website. The “Donors Button” should be placed prominently on the homepage and other pages of your website. It helps to translate the potential donor’s desire into real action.

6. Content Management System (CMS)
An online Content Management System can help you to manage the various streams of information and data on your website efficiently. It allows the website manager to update and maintain the data in an organized manner.

7. Blog feature
With your own website, you can have an exclusive Blog of your own at your own website! It can have the provision for readers’ comments and social bookmarking. It will improve the dynamic content of your website, and help from an SEO perspective as well.

8. Social Media Integration
Online marketing for your nonprofit cannot afford to ignore the growing importance of Social Media channels any longer. If you have a presence on social networking websites such as Facebook or Twitter, your website can provide a direct link to it. The readers can connect with you seamlessly at those networking sites through your website.

9. E-newsletter Subscription
People who visit your nonprofit website may also be interested in receiving regular updates and information directly into their mailbox. For such visitors, you can make a provision for a periodic e-newsletter. The content can be used from your website and blog, and delivered via email to the subscribers. It is a great way to maintain active contact with your supporters.

10. Contact Form
There should be a provision on your website for any visitor who may like to leave his or her contact information with you. This helps to build your database of relevant contacts/leads over a period of time.

These 10 features can make your nonprofit website truly professional, interesting, and useful from a visitor’s perspective, as well as gathering leads to grow your business.

With the advent of social media, it is widely debated that email marketing is redundant and business are choosing Twitter and Facebook for client communication. It is true that social media has taken the online business world by storm. However, email marketing is still an effective means to communicate with clients, giving you a chance to get into an individual’s personal space online, their email inbox.

To further highlight the power of email marketing, you can read the statistics listed below:

  • Epsilon "Branding Survey" (Feb 2009) found that 50% are more likely to buy products from companies who send them email, whether their purchases are online or at a place of business.
  • The same survey revealed that 67% of subscribers purchased products offline as a direct result of receiving an email from a retail company and 40% experienced positive impact on their likelihood to make a future purchase a company upon receiving an email.
  • Close to 84% of respondents said that they like receiving email from companies with whom they register. Even if they don't always read the message, it's good to know the information or offer will be there when they are ready to make a purchase. This response rate is up significantly from 69% in the 2005 study.
  • The Email Experience Council statistics reveal that over 49% of people who are happy with their recent purchase from your company will open future e-mails seven times faster than those who have not made a purchase in over three months.
  • According to the research firm Hurwitz & Associates, 46% of small businesses use email marketing; and 36% plan to start using it in the next 12 months. For more details, refer to the screenshot below:

Marketing, all thanks to the Internet, has become measurable. Intelligent implementation of email marketing has led to an inexpensive, immediate, and interactive means to correspond with customers. At only around $15 per month, email marketing is an affordable option, which saves on paper, printing costs and postage. Email marketing is not restricted by any geographical boundary too. With the ability to reach a global audience, you can offer them a wider variety of options or products than in a one-time visit on your site. However, you need to ensure that you provide quality information to your emailing list.

Find 6 Simple Tips to Increase Your Email Marketing Customer Base and Ideas for Email Marketing Campaigns.

How to Respond to an RFP

Responding to an RFP need not be a daunting task! You can use the step-by-step process, which follows (with examples), to help you respond to RFPs you receive from businesses wanting your design services.

Your RFP response should include a cover letter, company and product overview, and benefits of your working with your company. To begin with, you need to find answers to fundamental questions, to find out all that you need before you respond to an RFP. Answering the five “W’s” (Who, What, Why, When, Where) and one “H” (How) from the client’s perspective and your own perspective helps.

Who – requires your service and your introduction? It helps to break the introduction in to two well-planned parts. Include all the details about your prospective client in the first paragraph. Ensure that you summarize their needs and go ahead to tell them who you are. Don’t unnecessarily boast about your skills and abilities. Give your client an unbiased account of your skills.

 

Excerpts from my RFP response:
FIRM INFORMATION
Studio1c is a design firm founded in 2007 has expanded to include 9 other contractors; including designers, and website developers.
Studio1c’s mission is to create custom high-quality designs that cater to each clients’ unique requirements. Our experienced team provides print design, marketing, ongoing SEO, website development and hosting, maintenance and much more. Please visit our website, www.studio1c.com to see examples of our work.

What – does the company expect out of you and what you can do to help them?
Why – do they want your services and why they should choose you?

Excerpts from my RFP response:
Our unique integration of form, function and design puts us in a great position for this type of work. We are so confident that you’ll love the end result, that we guarantee our work!
We’d be pleased to refine this proposal if it does not adequately reflect your needs or goals for you.

You need to discuss your proposed services, while you answer the questions, “What” and “Why”. Address all the client requirements and your abilities to deal with them. Elaborate on your skills and experience to help the client place his/her trust in you. It helps to outline your strengths and distinctions, relate them to the scope of services to be provided for the clients’ project.

When – does the company expect you to complete the project and when you can start?

Excerpts from my RFP response:
PROJECTED TIMELINES AND BUDGET REQUIREMENTS
NEWLY DEVELOPED (CMS) CONTENT MANAGED SITE: I will select a CMS Joomla template that best addresses the design and functions you would like for your website. Second, we optimize all existing graphics into the proper placement in the template.

Where – is the company based at and your location?

How – much would it cost them, how much time and effort would you need to invest, and how do they pay you?
State your professional fees in the RFP response. Don’t sound too vague in quoting hourly and per-project rate. Make it as clear as possible, include fixed and variable pricing, so a client who requires hourly or per project rate receives a definitive idea of the budget.

Excerpts from my RFP response:
BILLING PROCESS
Studio1c will require payment of 50% of the project budget upon written agreement of compliance with proposal (email reply or retainer payment is acceptable); 50% upon completion of the approved work.

Most importantly, you need to customize the proposal and personalize it to the client. Don’t forget to thank the client for the opportunity to submit response. Ensure that you tell them why you would be the best choice and provide all the details they would require to contact you.

If you’re someone who lives more in the online world, you’re sure to have heard of or participated in the eternal battle of the browsers – IE vs. others. If you’re a new denizen of the World Wide Web, you would want to know which browser best suits your online needs, but chances are, you’ve already been warned off Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. This is not just because of IE’s poor track record as a browser, but also no concrete changes being made to newer versions, despite Microsoft one of the biggest players in the market. So, we decided to debate why newer browsers are much more preferable when compared to IE one by one so as to make your choice easier for you.

For starters, here are the top reasons why IE is the least preferred browser by techies and non- techies alike:

  • The most virus prone browser – IE has come under repeated attack for being THE browser likely to attract all kinds of viruses, Trojans, spyware and adware. And newer versions have mostly done nothing to combat this.
  • User-unfriendly – And if newer user-friendly features are added with every version release, these are treated as redundant because other browsers that came before have preempted the user's requirements better and earlier.
  • Web designers have found problems with IE’s design all too frequently to be ignored.

You’d think something would be done by Microsoft to address these kinds of complaints. But what’s really happened is other players have acted on this, leaving behind IE in the virtual dust. Here are other browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Opera and Safari) and why users prefer them:

  • Safety – The brains behind these browsers have understood that a net user’s first concern of his online habits is safety and privacy. All three browsers come with a very high level of protection against most viruses and spyware known to online mankind.
  • Usability – These browsers have made online navigation a pleasure with easy keyboard and mouse shortcuts that are easy to memorize and recall.
  • Easy to use interface – Designers have listened to the complaints about IE’s design, thereby rendering these browsers with very attractive interfaces that appeal to the design community.

Despite these staggering comparisons, however, IE still rules the roost in terms of user numbers, though we wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘the popular choice’. We’ve discussed some key features of the 4 most competent browsers that are standing up to the IE monopoly of the Internet, because we believe they deserve more visibility, and hence, higher usage.

Mozilla Firefox: This open source web browser known for questioning IE’s monopoly and bad features is also the most preferred browsers of techies, virus-phobic netizens and design enthusiasts. It currently gets around a third of IE’s share and around a quarter of worldwide users. It adheres to the current web standards and also supports add-on features that the standard ones might require in the future. Some of the noteworthy features include tabbed browsing, spell check, live bookmarking, private browsing, download manager, and an integrated Google search engine. It supports all operating systems and has given the internet surfer reason to rejoice with each new version.

Google Chrome: Google’s very own browser, ironically released as a beta version for Windows in 2008, gets its name from the graphical user interface frame, “Chrome”. It currently supports Windows but development versions for Mac OS X and Linux were released just a few months back. Its market share is on the upswing and is expected to grow exponentially in the coming months, with users hailing it as the most speed efficient of all browsers.

Apple Safari: Developed by Apple Inc., and integrated with the Mac OS as the default browser, this browser has been in the race from 2003 and has its loyal user base. It also is the default browser on iPhones. Since 2007, it also supports Windows XP and Vista.

Opera: Developed by the Opera Software Company, this browser enables easier browsing and multitasking on the web. It’s free for personal computer and mobile phones, but is a paid-for browser for other devices. Features include tabbed browsing, mouse gestures, page zooming and an integrated download manager. Security features are enviable, featuring built-in protection against phishing attacks and malware, strong encryption and the option to delete private data easily. It supports most computer operating systems and has a pride of place as being the innovator of many popular user features of current browsers. Despite this, share-wise, it is used by a very small fraction of the internet audience, though it is the preferred browser for mobile phones.

Last but not the least, Mozilla's latest offering, Flock, a beta release, is a social networking browser that neatly compartmentalizes your online habits into feeds, networking, mail and media. Studies show that the evolved user is slowly navigating away from IE, which is losing a chunk of market share to the other players with each passing year. Not to be left behind, Microsoft released IE version 8 recently that has added private browsing to its list of features, but, the argument still stands. Innovation is key, not delayed cloning. And as far as Microsoft sticks to its old formulas, the virtual world will continue to swim over to competition. Worthy, might we add.

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