I just spent the last week at BBCON 2014, where I had the privilege of speaking with a ton of different nonprofit organizations about their websites and online strategy. With each nonprofit that I spoke to, I needed to find out the basic information about them. Since I was face to face with the people who work for the nonprofit, I gathered this information in conversation. I was able to hear directly from them about who they were, what they did, how they do it, etc. Most importantly, I got to experience their passion for the cause and why what they do is so important to the world.
Most donors won’t have the opportunity to speak face to face with the organization; to hear about them and see their passion first hand. They will rely on the organization’s website to give them the necessary information. I came across a common theme at BBCON, not many of the websites I went to did a good job of telling potential donors about their organization and making them care enough to want to support their mission. This is where the About Us page has an important role.
No matter how well established the nonprofit organization is, it still needs to tell the new visitors who they are, what they do, and most importantly why they do what they do. The About Us page is where new visitors will turn to when deciding if they want to have a deeper relationship with the organization. These things are important to communicate on the Homepage, but the Homepage has too many other things to do to be able to do a good job of convincing a potential donor that the organization and its cause is worthy of their hard earned cash.
There are 5 things that I believe a nonprofit organization must have on their About Us page:
- The mission statement
- What they do
- How they do it
- The impact they have
- Who they are
I started writing about each of these 5 things in detail for this blog post, but it became too long. So instead I’ll cover each one in a separate post, starting with writing the mission statement.
1. The Mission Statement
Obvious, right? Of course as a nonprofit you need to share what your mission is, but in order to set yourself apart from other organizations, you need to start with why your organization exists. For a deep dive into the power of “why”, pick up a copy of Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why”, or watch his TED talk on How Great Leader’s Inspire Action. If you don’t have time for either, just take this quote with you:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” – Simon Sinek
Why statements are inherently more difficult to compose than what statements, but they help people be inspired by a higher level of purpose.
As an example, the National Wildlife Foundation focuses on why they do what they do in their mission statement:
Inspiring American’s to protect wildlife for our children’s future
It’s ok to include some of the what or how when describing your mission if it helps you differentiate your organization with others. For example, Heifer International’s mission statement:
To work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth
Of course, there are no rules when it comes to communicating your mission. You can stand out in other ways, such as jumping to extremes. For example, you can make a statement with extreme minimalism, such as TED’s:
Or the extreme no-BS approach of Charity:Water’s
Bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations
Your approach will depend on the personality of your brand, but the key is to have this mission declared loud and proud on your About Us page. If your visitor can only read one sentence about your organization, it should be your mission statement.
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