Posted by Jay Wilkinson

Here’s a need-to-know statistic:

A study by the Digital Community Foundation found that, among nonprofits that have effective marketing and fundraising efforts in place, those organizations with an online giving mechanism will increase their donations 20% over those who don’t accept online donations.

In other words, if you’re doing a good job marketing your nonprofit but you’re not allowing your supporters to donate online, you’re losing out on valuable contributions. You may be doing the work, but you’re not reaping the benefits and enjoying the largest return on your investment (ROI) possible.

Think about it—it’s never been so easy for the American public to give to nonprofits. If I have a soft spot for animals and a relationship with the National Humane Society, I don’t have to hunt for a stamp or an envelope to mail them a check. I simply go to their site, click Donate Online, enter my information, and click Send. I can do that on my PC, my laptop or my cell.

At the same time that you’re increasing income, your website can also be used to decrease expenses. How many times have you mailed out professionally printed materials and then wondered if they worked? Your printing budget can be reduced considerably if you repurpose content from your printed pieces to the web.

If you ask a crowd of people, “Do you prefer this information in print or digitally?” 80% will answer, “Print.” However, if you ask, “In an effort to reduce our printing costs, can we provide this information to you digitally?” 80% will say, “Sure.” They’re not thinking about their personal cost to print something out—they just want to help you save money. So, let them.

Financially speaking, one of the best investments you can make to increase income and decrease expenses is to evolve your website. And to be clear, the question is not, “How much does my website cost?” The real question is, “What’s the return on my investment?”

Donald Trump is famous for his perspective on cost versus ROI. He claims he’d never have made his first $100 million if he hadn’t figured that out.

I know organizations that spent $50,000 or more building their web presence who see a return on their investment within a few months. I know other organizations that spent $500 on building a useless online brochure, and they might as well have thrown their money away.

If you create a website that truly engages your supporters and gives them the functionality they want (like the ability to donate online), you’ll increase income, decrease expenses and be on the right track to achieve a positive ROI. It might not be $100 million, but it’s a start.