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4 Easy Ways to Improve Your LGBT Community Center's Website
LGBT community centers provide a range of invaluable services to the neighborhoods and cities they serve, from meeting groups to networking events, free healthcare testing to counseling. And as with most businesses and organizations, public knowledge of and access to those services depends on a well-functioning website. Without the right marketing and user experience, your site might fail to reach the maximum number of potential beneficiaries and, critically, donors.
In the past, finding room in the budget for website maintenance, let alone renovation, is a job unto itself. The good news is, community center leaders no longer need exceptional budgets to upgrade their online presence; resources are obtainable and affordable, and the payoffs higher than ever before.
If you're a decision-maker at an LGBT community center, consider these four ways to improve your online reach, user experience and fundraising efforts.
Invest in a Simple, Cost-Effective Site Redesign
Refreshing or even completely revamping your site has never been easier or more intuitive from a DIY perspective. Site builders like Squarespace and Wix are relatively cheap and simple to use. Most offer free trials before requiring monthly commitments, so you can experiment with different templates and see what works best for your community center's digital needs. If you're not an online wiz, think about tapping your volunteers for help—chances are there's someone more than willing to put his tech skills to good use.
During this redesign process, take into special consideration two key elements: mobile optimization and domain. According to StatCounter, more than 50 percent of people visit websites on their phones. While most website builders will automatically make your site mobile-friendly, don't forget to monitor how the site looks on your phone throughout the process. And if you're thinking about updating your center's URL, you may want to explore an alternative domain, to better brand and help drive traffic to your revamped site; .LGBT, for example, is a domain dedicated to LGBT websites.
Link Your Site to Your Social Media Accounts
The importance of prominently displaying your social media accounts on your site cannot be overstated. Young people in particular are less likely to call your community center for information. As a recent Forbes article explains, “[Millennials will] default to whichever communication method will help them complete their to-do list as efficiently as possible." That means exploring your center's social media channels to see what's happening with your organization.
Make this resource as accessible as possible on your center's website. Include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram icons alongside your center's contact information at the bottom of every page of your site. Doing so will not only increase your social media following, but also keep your audience connected and engaged in your programming. Oh, and it will also cost you nothing.
Make Fundraising Easy and Trackable with CRM
If your community center relies on donations to keep its doors open, you'll want to make donating on your website as easy as a click. A “Donate" button should be a static tab on top of every page, and you should accept as many kinds of payments as possible, from credit cards to PayPal.
To take your donation system to the next level, you may consider implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Salesforce, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle all provide services that gather and organize customer information into a streamlined database. CRM will aid you in building donor lists and make it clear which people or companies are exceptionally dedicated to your center's mission (i.e., which are contributing significant funds). This in turn helps keep these donors at top of mind when you next brainstorm fundraisers and execute new initiatives. Though CRM software can be an investment, the financial insight and gains are indispensable. Read up on different products to see which can best benefit your LGBT community center.
Of course you'll want your center's site to be thoughtfully designed, but posting relevant content is equally valuable. Your community members will be looking for event calendars, health information, and commentary on neighborhood and nationwide news that affects LGBT people. While national LGBT publications may also be discussing these topics, your center can provide a local voice for members to engage with on a personal, day-to-day basis. After all, you know your own community better than anyone else.
As with your website renovations, start by sourcing talent from your network of volunteers. Chances are there are people looking to support your community center who are also writers, researches and experts in niche fields like local legislation and government elections.
Tip: As you begin to publish content, it's important to remember that your site's language must be inclusive. GLAAD offers a thorough guide to writing for and about LGBT community members.
You don't have to break the bank to upgrade your LGBT community center's website. Allocate budgets strategically and take advantage of savvy volunteers to make your center's site well-designed, efficient and useful to both new donors and community members.