With organizations and businesses temporarily shut down, and social distancing measures still in effect, schools are finding it challenging to stay connected with students and continue fundraising at a safe distance. As with most K-12 schools, you likely already developed a digital presence before the pandemic, but if you want your school to stand out from the rest online, you’ll need to start by revamping your website.
Your website is your school’s primary online identity. It’s where students and parents view essential announcements, where prospective students learn more about your school, and where alumni see the progress you’ve made and donate to your mission. With all that relies on your website, you’ll need to make it as engaging as possible.
Start with a content management system (CMS) designed for school use. These platforms come equipped with fundraising tools that most generic website builders don’t offer. Plus, the best ones provide easy-to-use editing tools that don’t require a single line of code so that you can get up and running quickly.
Once you’ve selected a platform that offers the features and fundraising tools you need, you can begin designing an engaging school website that encourages visitors to explore your educational programs. To help, we’ll review some best practices for creating a school website that emphasizes your fundraising efforts, such as:
- Create a mobile-responsive giving page.
- Drive traffic with social media integration.
- Communicate with parents through a PTO page.
- Feature upcoming virtual fundraising events.
Developing a digital presence is crucial if you want to sustain operations under the current economic climate. If you’re ready to create an intuitive website that students and parents enjoy interacting with, let’s dive in.
1. Create a mobile-responsive giving page.
To start collecting money online, you’ll need to develop a well-designed donation page that effectively conveys your school’s need for funds. Across all your online fundraising efforts and marketing materials, you should link back to this form, so supporters can quickly donate to your campaign without hesitation.
A form that’s difficult to navigate or hard to fill out can be frustrating and will turn users away, so you’ll need to ensure it’s user-friendly to capture support. When designing your school’s giving page, keep these best practices in mind to drive more donations to completion:
- Make sure it’s mobile-friendly. According to this statistics page, roughly half of all nonprofit website traffic comes from mobile users, meaning that many individuals will likely be accessing your school’s website on their mobile devices. Because of this, you should make sure your pages adjust to fit any screen size, making it accessible to everyone. A CMS that offers automatic mobile-responsiveness will simplify this process.
- Simplify your form. Longer forms slow down the donation process and can lead to a poor user experience. Instead of cluttering it up with unnecessary fields, condense your form into one page by limiting the number of images and required fields. It will keep motivation high and push visitors through the online donation process.
- Include photos of students. This addition will remind prospects why they’re donating to your school. Try to limit to just one eye-catching photo as too many images will interrupt the donation experience by distracting visitors and slowing down the process.
- Brand it to your organization. Make sure your form features your school’s logo and colors so that it looks consistent with the rest of your site. If visitors think they’ve ended up on a third-party site, they may not trust the web page and possibly abandon their donation altogether.
To gain inspiration for your school’s giving page design, visit Morweb’s donation page design guide. It features several tips any fundraiser can incorporate regardless of their web design skill level. Each tip is accompanied by a real-world example so that you can see each suggestion in action.
Once you’ve created a standout donation page, funnel traffic by featuring it across marketing materials and in your website’s navigation. When sharing this page and making your donation appeals, keep in mind that your school is not the only one with a tight budget at this time. You’ll need to be mindful that parents, alumni, and other donor prospects may be unable to donate due to financial restrictions created by the current pandemic.
2. Drive traffic with social media integration.
These days, social media is one of the most popular online activities for most age groups. In fact, 72% of the American population uses some type of social media today, making it a crucial digital marketing route for schools and other organizations.
In short, social media allows you to connect with students, parents, alumni, and local businesses, which lets you share your fundraisers and initiatives with a broader audience. Because of this, you’ll need to ensure your CMS offers social media integration options. This way, you can drive traffic and create a seamless experience for online supporters. Here are a handful of ways you can incorporate social media on your website:
- Embed social media feeds. Live feeds will update each time you post, and embedding them in your website allows visitors to see your posts and engage with them in real-time without ever leaving your site.
- Add social media share buttons. Your website should allow you to incorporate these buttons on your donation page, event registration pages, and blog posts, so students, parents, and faculty can easily share them with their personal networks.
- Link to your social media pages. Link to your school’s accounts in either the header or footer of your site. This way, visitors can follow your accounts without having to navigate to each platform and locate your pages themselves.
When used strategically, social media can be a powerful marketing tool for schools. It allows you to connect with students, parents, and alumni where they are and engage with them on a personal level. Overall, social media can be a real game-changer for schools and can solidify your digital marketing plan.
3. Communicate with parents through a PTO page.
While budgets, scheduling, and meetings take up most of a school administrator’s time, there should also be time dedicated to engaging with your most passionate supporters: students’ families. Parents, guardians, grandparents, and other family members support your students day in and day out. Despite their varying perspectives, they all have a common motivator: they want their loved ones, and your school, to succeed.
This group is likely one of your most significant and most motivated communities. They want to enrich your school’s learning environment, and your website is one of the best ways to keep them informed on major happenings at your school. When used correctly, your website can serve as a direct link to these individuals with a parent-teacher organization (PTO) page.
Having a PTO page helps to facilitate conversations by providing the opportunity to be open and honest about your needs. To make the most of this page, consider the following elements:
- Post important announcements. Inform them of upcoming fundraisers and event dates as well as goals, progress, and results.
- Communicate the purpose behind fundraising requests. Parents may not fully understand the need for donations to bridge budgetary gaps and cover essential needs, such as technology, classroom supplies, and after-school activities, so it’s vital to communicate how donation funds get used.
- Include photos of active students and improvements made possible from contributions. It will show your PTO how much their efforts are paying off, which will motivate them to continue their hard work.
- Feature members of your board of directors and relevant contact information so that parents can reach out with questions and ideas that’ll get the entire school community involved.
Make sure you’re expressing complete appreciation for your students’ families by incorporating the above tips. As you continue communicating with this community online, bring some suggestions for improvement by checking out these great PTO fundraising ideas that will engage parents and students alike.
4. Feature upcoming virtual fundraising events.
Your school may be unable to host in-person fundraising events right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue hosting fundraisers in the virtual space. Digital events allow you to bring students together and stay connected despite social distancing requirements
Plus, a CMS with built-in events functionality will make the registration and ticketing process a breeze. With the help of your website builder, you can create mobile-responsive event pages that enable you to promote an effective registration experience and boost excitement among virtual attendees.
Using your schools’ fundraising events page, encourage involvement by following these best practices:
- Feature upcoming events. List each and every one of your activities, including details on what it is, when it will be, and how to attend. As soon as you finalize your school fundraising idea and event dates, add them to your fundraising events page so that students, teachers, and parents can get excited to attend and participate.
- Add registration forms. When someone decides to attend your virtual event, make sure they can easily fill out a registration form right then and there. Create a form that captures all essential registration data, such as names and contact information, so you can adequately plan for your event.
- Include it in your navigation menu. By doing this, users will know precisely where your events page is the moment they land on your homepage. Plus, this makes it visible across your entire website, which will help to funnel prospective attendees directly to it.
Virtual fundraising events are great for engaging your community, whether you’re only apart for the summer or the foreseeable future. If you need inspiration for your next virtual event, explore some useful ideas and best practices with CharityEngine’s virtual fundraising events guide. Choosing an engaging concept that suits your students and their families will set your school up for fundraising success.
Even when society transitions to post-pandemic operations, online fundraising efforts can be widely beneficial. For one, it’s entirely eco-friendly and is much safer than students walking door-to-door. Plus, it’s much more accessible, because you can accept donations 24/7 and extend your reach beyond only local support.
Remember, a strong online fundraising strategy starts with an effective website builder. Take time in selecting a CMS that offers complete customizability as well as the tools your school needs to fundraise. This way, you can spend less time focusing on web development and more time focusing on raising awareness and securing fundraising dollars.