Universities today produce some of the most compelling people and inspiring thoughts. Yet most universities have decidedly uninspiring giving websites. Until recently Biola was not exempt, having had an outdated and hard-to-use giving website for as long as the Internet has been around. But that all changed with the launch of a new-and-vastly-improved giving.biola.edu in December.
“We aspired to make Biola’s giving site the most dynamic of its kind, reflecting the innovation and ‘up and coming’ nature of Biola University,” said Adam Morris, vice president for advancement. “I believe other colleges will look to this site as an example of best practices in higher education fundraising.”
It had been at least six years since Biola’s giving website had received a refresh, and a lot of technological advances have taken place in that time. Online giving has also seen a dramatic increase in recent years, rising each year faster than overall giving rates. According to Network for Good’s Digital Giving Index, online giving to charities rose by 14 percent in 2013 while overall giving rose by 4 percent. Online giving isn’t all comprised of small donations either. Five nonprofit organizations reported online donations in excess of $100,000 in 2013, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
These trends, coupled with the fact that Biola University is set to publicly launch a major fundraising campaign in May of 2015, made it clear to the Office of Advancement that a revamped giving website was a must.
“In an age when people are used to Amazon one-click shopping, we wanted to develop a website that was cutting-edge and compelling, providing clear and easy ways for supporters to give to the initiatives of Biola University,” said Kira McCracken, assistant director of advancement communications.
The process of building a new giving site took nearly two years, including much time devoted to research and analysis of giving trends and patterns of Web usage. In order to provide “the best online donor experience we could build,” the team behind the site focused on compelling content and a more streamlined user experience with less text and more imagery, McCracken said.
“We wanted to make the gift-giving process to Biola simple and easy, but we didn't just want to offer ways to give,” she said. “We wanted to provide the why and the what now of giving to Biola.”
In addition to an easy-to-use giving page, the site features sections on Biola’s giving societies and volunteer groups, like the President’s Circle, Ruby Women, Eagles Athletic Association and the Lyman Stewart Guild. The site also advertises the breadth of giving options for donors, ranging from student scholarships and endowment to athletics and academic centers. A collection of student stories can also be found on the site — a reminder to donors that the transformed lives of actual students is what stewardship to Biola is all about.
“We wanted to create a site that showed donors that there are many ways to make an impact at Biola,” McCracken said, “and that making a big impact takes just a few easy clicks.”