Publications & Products
Volume 4, Issue 4

Plan an Engaging Foundation Website

A well-designed community college foundation website should attract, retain and nurture donors, says a design consultant.

Brian Sooy, president of design firm Aespire, says that donor experience is a critical factor in the design of a foundation website.

"Be certain to have a platform in place that not only allows you to accept donations online but also empowers you to nurture the relationship with the donor," he adds.

For example, Sooy notes that foundation websites should show donors the impact of their gifts.

"We donate to what we're interested in, to what appeals to us emotionally or rationally," he says. "When you give donors the opportunity to empathize with a circumstance or to participate in the experience of another person's story, they see how a gift made an impact and understand they have that potential as well."

Sooy notes that foundation websites do not need:

  • To tell the story of the college. "It needs to tell the story of how [the foundation] supports the college," he notes.
  • Links to content that is found on the main college website. For example, class schedules or other logistical information about the college is not needed on a foundation site.
  • A mission statement. "Talk about your purpose and the impact the donor can make through your foundation," he says. "Keep your mission as a reminder of what guides you, but let the [foundation] website demonstrate your mission in action. There's no need to state it if you're living it."

Andrea Horning, alumni and special event coordinator at the Lorain County Community College Foundation in Elyria, Ohio,, says her foundation recently created its own website—separate from the college.

"For our purposes, creating our own website was about giving the foundation its own distinctive voice," she says. "Our site is specifically a call to action to support what we do. We want to show that we are a vehicle through which donors can make a profound impact by giving to any number of college initiatives that we support. Because our site is about inspiring rather than informing, we needed a different framework and different elements of functionality [from the college website], such as online giving capability."

Sooy and Horning will further discuss how to plan a community college website in a Nov. 18 CASE webinar.

This article is from the October 2014 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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