10 Ideas for a Macro View of Your Microsite
March 2, 2009 — Whether it is interactive educational games, unique online donation pages, or critical campaigns, nonprofits have been looking more to microsites as supplements to their main web pages.

It doesn’t matter if your mission is animal rights or disaster relief, your microsite should distinguish itself while adhering to your overall online strategy.

Sarah Hoddinott, fundraising product manager at nonprofit software provider Advanced Solutions International in Alexandria, Va., provided the following key tips to maximize your microsite:

Make it personal. Why do you care about this cause? How has your participation in this organization or campaign affected you? Micro-campaign sites, such as the Colorectal Cancer Coalition’s Cover Your Butt (coveryourbutt.org), hinges on the type of passion you generate to spur others into action -- so make it matter.

Encourage community participation. Visitors to your Web site have at least a passing interest in your cause. Micro-campaign sites should not only begin and end with your organization’s story but also encourage members or donors to share their own experiences. On FinancialPrivacyNow.org, Consumers Union asks individuals to submit their or loved ones’ identity theft stories, facilitating online communication and collaboration on this issue.

Take your event virtual. You can easily focus on keeping participants involved in micro-campaigns by quickly sending them personalized automated emails that provide fundraising tips, solicitation reminders, encouragement and your gratitude. This is especially true with virtual events, such as Goodwill of Greater Washington’s Virtual Fashion Show (www.fashionofgoodwill.org ) and Amnesty International Canada’s Taste for Justice (www.amnesty.ca/tasteforjustice ). You can mobilize more followers to logon to your microsite on a specific date, eliminating physical and travel costs.

Spotlight your current appeals. For its Red Kettle Campaign (www.redkettles.org), the Empire State Division of the Salvation Army used the main page of its microsite to inform potential donors and volunteers about its priorities and successes. Appeals bring visitors back to your micro-campaign site and also offer great content for keeping it fresh and topical.

Make it high-tech. Perhaps as important as what you say, is how you say it...not to mention where and when. You can expand the reach and portability of your campaign by using an application on Facebook, posting updates on your progress via Twitter and more. Amnesty International featured an interactive cell tour of Guantanamo via Flickr and a video blog on its microsite, TearItDown.org -- sharing inspiration, motivation, social media tools and tips for meeting campaign goals.

Integrate peer-to-peer elements into your microsite. You can maintain the core messaging of your campaign while enabling constituents to personalize the message for their own networking and recruitment efforts. For example, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International’s Passport campaigns (passport.panda.org/tellafriend) allow microsite visitors to send e-cards to friends and family, educating them about the cause and how they can get involved and make a difference.

Ensure that your microsite is easily accessible from your organization’s home page. The Nature Conservancy clearly displays the link to its Plant a Billion Trees (www.plantabillion.org) micro-campaign site. You don’t want to lose visitors with each click it takes to get your microsite.

Take advantage of search engine optimization (SEO). Think about the key words potential donors or members associate with the cause you champion when they search online. You should feature those key words throughout your microsite and main Web page. For example, the terms “heart,” “health” and “awareness” bring visitors to The Heart Truth microsite (www.nhlbi.nih.gov//educational/hearttruth) of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Publicize your microsite. The Christian Aid Week Web page (www.christianaid.org.uk/getinvolved/christianaidweek) provides the community with all of the tools it needs to promote the event. It even allows individuals to create their own presentations and develop localized campaigns. Allow your micro-campaign to multiply organically and at no further cost to you -- one evangelist is worth much more than one donation.

Don’t forget about your content management system. The look and feel of your site should engage the target audience -- not push them away. Make banner ads and graphics, like the Green Caps for Green Energy microsite (www.silkgreencaps.com) compelling; tailor Web content based on individual visitor interests. You can even have your online creative reflect the expertise and professionalism of your mail pieces.

Republished with permission from NPT Instant Fundraising , a publication of The NonProfit Times. For a free subscription, click here.