A personal story of Parkinsons Disease The Fish Chick

Shaking Things Up: In loving memory of The Fish Chick’s Dad

Many of you may know about my Dad’s health challenges this year or may remember a very personal Thank You Thursday article I wrote a few years ago about his Parkinson’s diagnosis. The kind feedback I received at that time was lovely and I felt so supported. With that in mind, I wanted to honour my Dad once more and share the news that sadly he passed away earlier this month. It’s been a tough month for our close-knit Crocker clan, but we are reminding ourselves of how lucky we were to have him at the helm for as long as we did.

Thank you to those of you who have sent heartfelt condolences over the past few weeks as this news has filtered out. The kind messages and emails have been warmly received. Fish has never been just a job for me, it’s a vehicle that allows me to create positive change and has grown into a little community that I hope is making a difference.  It’s provided me with the opportunity to meet many incredible people and work with some amazing charities, and sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming.

My Dad was a good and much-liked business man most of his life and I know he would be just as proud of this business I have created as I am, and that makes me really happy. Thank you for being my inspiration and mentor, with the wisdom and love that you readily shared, Dad. I love you too and will miss you every day.

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Just over three and half years after I wrote this original Thank You Thursday article about Shake it Up Foundation, my Dad and his Parkinson’s diagnosis, I have a sad update to share.

Dad lived with Parkinson’s Disease for over five years with reasonably slow progression, but earlier this year he got quite unwell and things rapidly worsened. We were told that it is likely he had Lewy Body’s Dementia, which is a form of Parkinsonism, but also a form of dementia. All of these conditions are challenging to diagnose as they are so closely related and can often be misdiagnosed.

After a few difficult months of increasingly failing health, sadly, we lost our dear Daddy Fish peacefully on the morning of 2nd November 2019.

I’m so very, very sad that he is gone, but feel so very fortunate and proud to have been able to call him my Dad. He will be remembered as an incredible man of great strength, positivity and love for his family.

We’ve established a fundraising page in his memory to fund research into Parkinson’s Disease with the Shake It Up Foundation and I know Dad wouldn’t expect any less from his fundraising gal.

https://shakeitup.grassrootz.com/in-memory/in-loving-memory-of-richard-crocker

More Wonderful Websites

Last month, you may remember we did a post with some tips about how to optimise your charity website so you have the best chance of attracting new donors and generating maximum revenue through this method. Just to recap on the first five tips: Easy to donate; Mission front and centre; Beneficiaries are your hero; Use pictures, not words; and, Designed for your visitors. You can read the blog post in full here.

In today’s post, we will be looking at another four tips to help achieve great website success.

Update regularly

To ensure supporters are encouraged back to your website again and again, it’s important to have updated content. You can do this easily through a news section on your site and posting an article at least once a fortnight. You can also regularly update an events section. The more updated your content is, the higher your ranking in search engines, also.

Blogs are another great way to have fresh content on your website. Having a blog written by your CEO, Chair or Program workers, or even a combination of this, allows your supporters to gain insights about your organisation from varied sources. The best things about blogs are that they can have an authenticity that your more-formal communications cannot always have. One Girl’s blog is one of the best examples of this – so raw and open – it really draws its readers in and makes them feel closer to the organisation.

Mobile-friendly

Studies suggest that about half of all visits to charity websites (and I’d assume websites in general) are via a mobile device so making your site mobile-enabled is a must. A lot of charities do this now, and if you’re site is on a platform like WordPress, it has probably happened automatically.

Make sure, however, that one the home page and donate page of your mobile version site the main messages and functionality is there. Charity: Water is one organisation that does this brilliantly. On their home page they get straight into making a donation and if you swipe down a little you get to the heart of what they do; their mission.

 

Make sure it can be found

SEO is a very important acronym in the world wide web and if you don’t know what it is or what it means, chances are your website will not be easily found on your site. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and it’s all about helping your website rank higher in an online search. The higher your ranking, the easier it is for prospective supporters to find your charity. While historically key words were important, nowadays it’s more about having longer, more updated content and being mobile-enabled (two points we just covered above). If you’re not too sure about SEO, it’s definitely worth investing in an external provider to make sure your organisation’s site is being found.

Google, one of the world’s biggest internet search engines, offers a service called Google AdWords which is basically an online advertising service. Google, being the socially-conscious and ethically-minded business that it is, has an arm that helps charities get the best results online. Google for Non-Profits provides eligible charities with up to $10,000 of free Google AdWords each month. This article on ProBono’s website shares some great info about how to do that.

Be Social

We can’t really talk about websites and not mention social media. Most people will tell you that one of the main objectives of your social media platforms is to send traffic to your website, so I think it’s important to be aware of this while creating your site. Each time you update content on your site (which as per the tip above, this should be quite often) you can share this new content on your social media accounts. Don’t be afraid to re-share content as well, especially if there is some new point of relevance you can draw from it. Remember, you will probably get sick of your content long before your supporters day as they are not as close to it as you are!

As Jeff Stanger says in Achieving Excellence in Fundraising, “the secret to being successful online is to master the tried and true principles of fundraising and then apply them to the online environment.” I would certainly agree with this and think it’s important that charities do not to forget this. Hopefully some of the tips in this two-part blog post will help.

If you have any other vital tips for others please feel free to share in the comments below. Otherwise, all the best with your making your website more wonderful and attracting new donors.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

Wonderful Websites

While a charity’s website may not necessarily make them big bucks, not having an appealing and user-friendly site can inhibit the dollars you do attract. Nowadays, a website is like a window to your charity’s soul; so you really need to be mindful of how you’re presenting yourself, your beneficiaries and the work that you do. While I don’t profess to be a website guru, I’ve spent some time over the past decade working with various sized charities on updating, designing and redeveloping their websites, and I usually find that some basic tips are always appreciated.

According to Blackbaud research, while online donations only account for about 7% of ALL charity income, in recent years this type of giving has been growing steadily, with an increase of 8.9% from 2013 to 2014. And not only is more money coming in, but more people are donating. Furthermore, what is most exciting is this same research also suggests small organisations are seeing the biggest growth in online giving. It’s definitely a space we should all want to be in.

Nevertheless, redesigning websites can often be an expensive exercise, and something that may not be high on your charity’s priority list – especially if you are a small organisation with a very limited expenditure budget. The functionality and technology of a site is important, but, to be honest, fancy doesn’t necessarily equal successful. Often it is the content, the way it is presented and the story you tell that can make your site a winner. So, across two Fishy blogs (there was just too much information to fit into one post!) we share with you some of the key tips for making your site most successful and some web design best practices that will help you achieve your online communication and fundraising goals.

Easy to donate

A study by the Nielsen Norman Group a few years back indicated that 17% of charity website visitors couldn’t find the donate button! That’s almost one in five! Really?!?What. Is. Going. On? Surely this should be our number one priority on charity websites?

No matter what mechanism you have in place to take donations online, your home page – or better yet, your website’s header which will appear on every page – should have a very clear donate button. By clicking on that, your supporters should be taken via the most direct route to make a donation.

Queensland’s rescue helicopter service, CareFlight, has been a site I have long admired, and I thought I was a bit biased (as I used to work there many moons ago) until I saw it listed on a 100 great websites site. CareFlight’s home page makes the option of donating very easy. It actually appears twice; once along the banner at the top and as a feature underneath the main image/video, as you can see in the screen shot below.

Mission front and centre

Make sure visitors to your site know within their first 30 seconds of landing on your home page know what your mission is – or in effect – what you do. Don’t be too ambiguous or clever about this. Be proud and loud about stating with intention what difference you are making in the world. You should try to do this with a combination of words and imagery.

The two most important pieces of information that potential supporters look for when visiting your site are what you do and how you use donations. So be sure to tell them this early on.

Beneficiaries are your hero

Your supporters invest in your organisation for one reason only. And that reason has really nothing to do with you. They invest to create a better life for your beneficiaries. Or protect the habitat of a certain animal. Or to change the world for a better future. Whatever that is you need to feature that on your website (and in all your communications really).

You need to make the beneficiaries of your cause, those that will benefit most, whether they are people, animals or forests, the hero of your website. The WWF do this really well. Sure they have some of the most incredibly emotive images to help promote their cause, but the WWF website has featured in various ‘best website’ articles over the past few years. The WWF UK home page has a fabulous ‘Species we’re protecting’ section which really makes the endangered species the heroes. That’s pretty powerful stuff.


Use pictures, not words

As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, and this is as important on your website as any other place. While you will certainly still need words to get your messages across, it’s important to ensure your site doesn’t become too text heavy.

The images you choose can have a great impact on the emotional appeal they create. When using images of people, try to have them looking directly at the camera, where possible and smiling. A happy face suggests your organisation is having an impact and making people happy. Your images don’t have to be at professional photography level, but make sure their main features are showcased well. Sometimes a little bit of cropping of an image doesn’t go astray.

Designed for your visitors

There are many elements of a website that are important and often it is the successful combination of these elements that make it easier for the visitors to your site. One of the biggest elements is the design; and an important design feature is to have a clean layout with, if possible, plenty of white space.

Be mindful of who will be visiting your site; for some organisations this is a combination of supporters and users of your service. UK based cancer charity,Macmillan, does this very well. As you can see in the screenshot below, their home pages has options for all their types of visitors and even a ‘How can we help you today?’ section that when clicked upon, it opens a list for different types of visitors from newly diagnosed cancer patients to health professionals.


So, there you have it. Five of the top tips for making your charity’s website wonderful. We’ll be back next month with another few tips to add to this too. If you aren’t already subscribed to the Fish blogs, you can do so by completing your name and email in the box to the right of this post.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.