Campaign websites generally have two primary goals — to explain the priorities of the campaign and to build a culture of philanthropy by reengaging alumni. I have six pieces of advice as you develop the digital strategy for a campaign website:
- Let content be the navigation.
Avoid meaningless labels and let content guide your visitors through your campaign site. Gettysburg College’s Gettysburgreat Campaign is a strong example. Focusing on communicating campaign priorities, the Gettysburgreat Campaign site navigation is clear, simple, and telegraphic. The five campaign pillars become the navigation for their site. So visitors explore the site by clicking on the five areas they can support:
- A First-Class Faculty
- Engaged Learning
- Global Initiatives
- Annual Giving
- Use clear, understandable language.
Rely on succinct prose that is accessible and does not include (pardon us) “development speak” or fundraising jargon. Many people, especially young alumni, find a fundraising campaign intimidating; don’t reinforce this with language they don’t understand. Make the website copy conversational and concise.
- Follow brand standards for the visual design.
The look and feel of a campaign website should be consistent with your brand standards. While a microsite approach can make the site distinctive and a bit bolder than the main website design, campaign sites should capitalize on the institutional brand. The Campaign for Harvard Graduate School of Education is fully integrated with gse.harvard.edu, providing a cohesive look and seamless navigation between the campaign content and the main site.
- Design for the life of the campaign.
Keep in the mind that the campaign website design must be fresh and yet possess a shelf life that extends through the life of the campaign. Because fundraising campaigns are multi-year, a clean design that relies on high-impact photography is a safe bet. Using this approach, new photography can refresh a site over what is likely to be a five- to seven-year campaign period.
- Reconnect your alumni through storytelling.
The best way to reconnect with alumni is to make it personal through the age-old craft of storytelling. The Competition Taught Me feature on George School’s Fit for the Future campaign website presents the unique stories of coaches and athletes. Demonstrating the lessons learned from athletic discipline and competition, these stories make the case for the importance of supporting athletics. George School alumni can share their own stories on this campaign site — the Compendium offers a rich history of George School athletes and more.
- Integrate your social channels.
People give to people. The stories you tell through your campaign website make the case for private support, and your social channels can enrich the narrative through a fresh and authentic diversity of voices. Young alumni are an important constituency for most campaigns and they are more likely to use social. You need to find them where they are and let their peers help explain why giving back is important. Establishing and promoting a consistent social hashtag is key. A curated feed from a hashtag on Instagram is a source of dynamic content for the #Gettysburggreat campaign site. The emotional response to the Gettysburg College photography is clear from the hundreds of likes. Remember, your current students are your best ambassadors. In a flash, current students can make an authentic statement about your college or university with a quick photo, a caption, and a hashtag or two. Let your students be the best illustrations of your distinctive culture, value, and societal contributions.