A successful website is one of the most effective tools a school can utilize to engage with parents, communicate information, promote their services, and collect donations. This guide will provide you with tips and examples for how to increase your website’s functionality, accessibility, and overall impact.
When thinking about your school’s website, consider it as both an outreach tool to connect with potential future donors & families and a communication tool to provide current donors & families with useful information.
General Website Tips
Part of what makes a good website is that it is helpful to you. Creating a list of main goals for the use of your website will help you know what to highlight or focus on: why do you want people to visit your website? Is it to draw in new families? To encourage new or current donors to give? Provide updated information for current students? Is it a platform for online learning? Once you answer that question, you can begin to make improvements to better meet your goals. The following tips can be applied to whatever purpose you are using your website for.
An effective website engages its audience. Make sure the most important information is easy to find from the home page. Common pages that are used often on school websites are School Calendar, Staff Directory, and Teacher Pages (if you choose to go that detailed). These are good options to have as tabs across the top of the webpage so they can be easily accessed. Some general ways to make your site accessible and engaging:
- use short paragraphs
- use informative, but brief subtitles for sections: people need to be able to scan the site and quickly find what they are looking for
- make good use of bullet points and numbers
- keep it short and sweet
- keep your home page uncrowded- too much information at the start can drive people away from exploring further
- have a "Donate" button as the last tab on the far right; preferably outlined or in a different color
There is a general rule that people are more likely to make a decision when they have 7 or fewer links to choose from. Remember a website that is too crowded is just as ineffective as one that is too empty.
Do not forget: make sure it is mobile friendly!
An effective website is functional. You want your website to be easy to use and appealing at a glance. The webpage needs to be clean and uncluttered so someone can absorb the information quickly without having too work to hard to find what is applicable to them. The home page is the most important part of functionality as it is the jumping off point for the rest of the website so this is a good place to include links to other pages in the site such as a donate button, upcoming events, and the school's contact information.
Just as important is making sure all the links on your website are checked regularly! You can spend time and money making your website look impressive but if the links do not work or information is not updated then it is not useful for your audience.
One key way to increase your fundraising for the SGO program is to include information about it on your website. Potential donors may not know the incredible benefits they can access when they donate through the SGO program. Including a short description of the program and its benefits can entice new donors. If you are interested, we can provide customizable videos explaining the program with your school's branding for you to utilize online.
Repetition is central to attracting online donations- try to include a "donate button" as many places as you can on your website: at the top of the home page, the donation page, the financial aid page, alumni page, etc. The more accessible and prevalent it is, the more likely someone is to click on it.
When building a Donation page it is crucial to be clear about where a donor's money is going. If it is not clear what a donation is for, potential donors may be hesitant to donate if they do not understand what their money will be used for. To help with this you can download this pdf that has sample language you can use to explain the SGO program in a clear and concise way.
We have three ways for you to incorporate SGO donations into your existing website.
- You can have a link to the Donor page on our website listed on your site. This allows anyone who is interested in the program to have a quick and easy way to find out more information on our program and access to online donations. We can also provide a custom landing page for your school that would live on our site. This would be like our donation page but with your school's logo and color scheme that you could then link to on your website.
- You can attach the pdf of our customizable donor brochure to your donation page. This provides an accessible way for donors who want to donate via check.
- We can provide an embedded widget so donors can donate directly from your website!
Scholarship/ Financial Aid Pages
One common use of a school website is to attract and inform new families. For families exploring the option of a private school, one key piece of information that they will need to know is how much the tuition is and what scholarships are available to them. Having a page on your website that explores these pieces of information can be a great resource to provide to potential families. This can be labeled as many different things such as "Financial Aid", "Scholarships", "Tuition and Fees", or a combination of those three.
On this page, include any source of financial assistance your school offers. This provides families with clear information to help them make a decision if your school is a possibility for them. Provide a clear, but brief description of each form financial aid so families understand the benefit and limitation of each resource available to them. Below is a sample description of Sagamore's SGO program that can be used on your website.
"The state of Indiana established a tax-credit program to incentivize private donations to fund educational choice for families attending non-public schools. This tax savings opportunity is available to individuals and corporations that make a financial contribution to 'INSERT YOUR SCHOOL NAME HERE' through Sagamore Institute, a qualified scholarship granting organization (SGO). Funding for this scholarship depends solely on financial donations made to the school through the Sagamore Institute, whereby the award amount and number of granted scholarships is determined. To qualify for a SGO scholarship, a student's household income must be no more than 300% of the guidelines for the federal free-reduced lunch program. You can find this year's income guidelines on Sagamore's website "
You can also include the current year's income guideline's on your website however you would need to make sure to update it every year. Also make sure to provide the contact at the school a prospective family should reach out to if they wish to utilize a financial aid option on your website.
Here are some schools we partner with that have great websites.
Sagamore Institute Branding
Downloadable Sagamore Branding for use on your website