Do I really need a Website for our Sanctuary? Can’t I just use Facebook?

Here’s something we hear all the time from Animal Sanctuaries and Rescue organizations,

“My website gets very little traffic. Most of my traffic comes from FB”

And similarly,

“I am currently paying about $30 per month for website and domain. My question is: how necessary is the website? Can you get away without this traditional platform?”

So the simple answer to this is you can, but you shouldn’t. Let me explain.

You don’t own Facebook, and you have no control of who will or will not see your posts in their feed.

The website is the only thing you “own” – it’s yours. You don’t own your Facebook page and at anytime they can take that away from you (or shut down) and you have no control over that. Facebook already is cutting back the amount your page post get shown, keep with what you control.

Your website is the hub of all online things related to your organization. Social media is to drive traffic to your website. Your email newsletter is to drive traffic to your website. Search Engines drive traffic to your website.

Your website is central.

And an organization without a website can be an issue, as other people said,

“I personally don’t trust orgs that don’t have a website. because it feels like a start up.”
“I agree with Steph, an actual website gives credibility. If I am donating to a nonprofit because I see them on Facebook, I will usually go to their site to learn more about them before actually donating.”

One sanctuary we spoke with increased their website traffic by routing everything through it (e.g. if you have an event, the registration is on the website and FB is there to promote the website).

Plus – consider building your email list and using that to drive traffic back to your website with your current supporters.

Building a blog with engaging content on the impact of your work to cultivate your donors and engage them more.

The email list is another thing you own – it’s all yours.

Since we’re talking about newsletters, a mistake we often see is that they include the whole articles in the newsletters rather than an excerpt to the article published on the website. This means the email recipient has no need to go to the website. Your email newsletters should dangling the carrot to entice people to want to read more about the latest rescue, event or campaign.

Your organization’s website is there to provide information to those who would be supportive of your cause/organization. It doesn’t have to be large or deep, just up to date with the right information. What you really need to do is to work on marketing efforts that will draw attention to your organization and use the website to facilitate deeper discussions and actions. We all need a “home” on the web, and your website does that. That should be the focal point for all marketing and publicity, and when people ask about you, you point to the website that has more details.

“As a donor, I don’t donate to “charities” without a website. I assume it’s not a real thing.”

If you want the general public to know about you, trust you and see that you’re a legitimate organization, you need your own website at your own organizations name – preferably .org.

I would also argue that you need a professional website as well, and not a freebie Wix site. The freebies look sketchy, and not a place I’d feel comfortable donating to. Donors and grantors are very reluctant to engage with a nonprofit without a website.

Having your own website also allows you insights into what search terms people are finding you for, where they spend their time on your website, where they leave from along with demographics of

Your website provides a ton of functionality over and above what Facebook provides. It provides a 24/7 donation interface, it provides volunteer application forms, animal sponsorship and adoption forms, team profiles, campaigns and much more all in one easily navigable place.

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