Understanding Event Microsites: What Nonprofits Should Know

Looking for a new way to market your nonprofit’s fundraising events and increase supporter involvement? An event microsite might be the right choice.

An event microsite allows you to spread the word about your event online, offer potential attendees event-specific information, and collect registrations. It can effectively supplement your existing social media and email marketing efforts to reach a wider audience. In this guide, we’ll explore the basics of event microsites in the following sections:

These tips will help you determine whether creating a microsite is the most effective way to bolster your event marketing and how to use your site successfully.

What is an Event Microsite?

A nonprofit event microsite is a type of charity microsite that shares event-specific content, allowing supporters to learn about the experience, register, and donate ahead of time.

Microsites are typically much less complex than nonprofit websites. They’re usually just a cluster of pages or even a single page. Event microsites can promote any type of event, including in-person, virtual, and hybrid experiences.

When Should You Create an Event Microsite?

Although event microsites tend to be pretty simple to create with a user-friendly fundraising platform like OneCause or CMS platform like Drupal or WordPress, they still require some planning and strategizing. You’ll have to determine if it’s worth the time it will take to get your microsite up and running.

Also, not all events require a microsite. For instance, if your microsite would simply repeat information already available on your main website, creating one is probably not worth the time and energy.

With that said, there are plenty of scenarios where a microsite might be the right choice for your event marketing plan. Consider creating a microsite if you’re looking to:

  • Highlight a recurring major event. Perhaps your event is a large annual occurrence that drives a significant amount of fundraising or engagement for your organization, such as a legacy event for major donors. If so, it might be worth it to create a microsite to highlight it effectively and save time on future promotion efforts. A microsite allows you to fully explain your event’s purpose and other key details. Plus, you can promote it year after year to help supporters learn more about the event.
  • Spread awareness of your event’s unique branding. If your event has a different branding approach than your main organization, a microsite can help you emphasize these elements. For instance, your event’s brand might have a unique theme, color palette, and logo. Use your microsite to fully display your event’s distinctive branding through your color choices, typography, and graphic design style.
  • Reach a new or different audience. Perhaps your event is targeted at a slightly different audience than your organization as a whole. For example, you might target younger supporters or supporters who share a certain profession. You can use your microsite to appeal directly to these individuals using branding elements, visuals, and other content types that speak to their interests.
  • Uniquely engage supporters. If you’re looking to cultivate stronger supporter relationships online, an event microsite can shake up your normal online interactions. Microsites allow you to engage supporters with a variety of unique online activities, such as polls, quizzes, videos, and interactive presentations or infographics.

When they’re strategically and thoughtfully designed, microsites can help you communicate directly to donors and generate excitement for your event. However, there are several pitfalls to avoid when creating an event microsite. That’s why it’s important to follow a few basic best practices.

Best Practices for Designing Your Event Microsite

According to Kanopi’s guide to the best nonprofit websites, the most effective nonprofit sites have intuitive navigation, uniform branding, engaging visuals, and mobile-friendly content. The best event microsites are no different!

Specifically, the following best practices will help you create a well-designed, engaging event microsite:

Design your microsite with your audience in mind.

Your microsite’s content should target your potential attendees’ interests and address common audience concerns. But exactly who are you trying to reach ahead of your event?

Use your past event data to determine your prospective audience’s:

  • Demographics
  • Preferred communication platforms
  • Donation habits
  • History of engagement with your organization
  • Interests
  • Giving capacity

This information can help you design an event microsite that’s relevant to your audience’s interests and motivations. For example, if you know that your audience prefers social media over email, you can promote your microsite more heavily on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

Offer pre-event donation opportunities.

Collect donations ahead of your event by embedding an online donation form within your microsite or linking to your main donation page. Ensure your donation form is simple and easy to fill out by only asking for necessary information, such as a donor’s:

  • Name
  • Donation amount
  • Payment information

Maximize donations by providing an option to turn single donations into recurring gifts, like this example from Hastings Public Schools Foundation:

The Hasting Public School Foundation donation page with a button for monthly giving.

Your donation form should also allow donors to research their matching gift eligibility. Double the Donation’s guide to corporate matching gifts recommends providing donors with a matching gift search tool that leverages auto-submission. They can type in their employers’ names to see if they can apply for a matching gift. If they’re match-eligible, they’ll just have to enter their corporate email address, and the matching gift tool will submit a request on behalf of the donor.

Offering a streamlined donation and matching gift process can increase your donations exponentially ahead of your event and help you exceed your fundraising goals.

Provide a behind-the-scenes look at your event.

A microsite is an effective opportunity to give attendees a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what to expect from your event. This can help generate excitement and boost registrations.

Offer photos and videos that provide an inside look at event elements such as:

  • Silent auction items that will be available for bidding
  • Food and drinks
  • Decor
  • Entertainment
  • Raffle prizes

You can also use your microsite to leave clues for certain aspects of the event, such as surprise guests or unique decor elements. This will pique attendees’ interest and can influence more supporters to attend.

Include essential event logistics.

Your microsite should be a one-stop shop for all of the event information attendees will need. Ensure the site includes:

  • Event logistics, such as the date, time, location, schedule, and parking information
  • Your event’s history and purpose
  • An event registration page
  • Your fundraising goal
  • Additional ways to connect with your organization, such as social media links or an email newsletter registration page

This information will make signing up for your event easier and allow you to start fostering ongoing engagement with attendees.

Incorporate SEO strategies.

Optimizing your microsite for search engines can drive more traffic to it, potentially helping you reach an audience specifically interested in your event to increase your attendance numbers.

Conduct keyword research by using a tool like Google Keyword Planner to identify popular keywords that are relevant to your event. Incorporate these keywords naturally into your microsite’s content and avoid keyword stuffing. Make sure to only use one unique primary keyword per page to make it clear to Google which page it should prioritize for important keywords.

Once you know what keywords to target, follow other SEO best practices such as:

  • Ensuring your content is robust, valuable, and educational (not spammy or unsubstantial)
  • Linking to other microsite pages and pages on your main website
  • Following accessibility guidelines such as including alternative text for images and captions for videos

These SEO strategies are a low-cost way to reach individuals who are interested in topics related to your event but may not be supporters of your organization yet. You can catch their attention and use your well-designed microsite to encourage them to attend.

Use Google Ads to promote your microsite.

Supplementing your organic SEO strategies with paid Google Ads can be an effective way to reach an even larger audience with your event promotions. Google Ads are the sponsored websites that appear at the top of Google Search results. For example, here’s a sponsored ad from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital:

Example of a Google Ad.

Make your Google Ads stand out by:

  • Choosing keywords that align with your event’s purpose
  • Leveraging geotargeting to reach the right geographic audience
  • Using images and compelling calls to action that draw in potential event attendees

As a nonprofit, you may also be eligible for the Google Ad Grant program, which provides charitable organizations with a free $10,000 per month in Google Ad spending. This can help save your marketing dollars and give you free rein to create ads for multiple high-value keywords.

Offer unique content.

As mentioned, your microsite shouldn’t repeat content that’s already available on your main website. If you find yourself reformatting the same content from your primary site, consider revamping your event’s web page instead to make it more engaging.

Your microsite’s content should be tailored to your event’s audience and laser-focused on event-specific information. This ensures you’re telling prospective attendees exactly what they need to know, while also supporting your SEO goals for both websites. When your microsite has unique content, it won’t pull traffic away from your primary website.

Consider adding an event countdown.

An event countdown that updates in real-time can be an engaging way to get attendees excited about your fundraising event. Consider embedding a countdown clock that displays the days, hours, and minutes left to go before your event.

Use the countdown to remind attendees to register in time before it’s too late. You can even offer various incentives for early registrations, such as VIP access or free merchandise. This helps you get a more accurate headcount for your event ahead of time.

Choose engaging visuals.

Your microsite should give prospective event attendees an idea of what they should expect from your event. Incorporate images and videos of past events to highlight different aspects that attendees can look forward to.

When choosing visuals, remember that the most engaging visuals are:

  • Candid and unposed
  • Not blurry or oddly cropped
  • Optimized for fast load speeds
  • Human-centered, featuring faces, hands, and other human body parts (research shows that these elements trigger familiarity and make images more relevant to viewers)

You can also embed a social media feed into your microsite to automatically pull posts that include photos and videos from your event. This can make your microsite feel more active and dynamic while encouraging site visitors to explore your social media pages.

Optimize your site for mobile devices.

Optimizing your site for mobile devices not only creates a better user experience for mobile visitors but can also boost your SEO performance. Create a mobile-optimized microsite by:

  • Keeping your content and navigation simple
  • Using responsive design
  • Improving your site’s load speed by optimizing images and minifying code (eliminating unnecessary characters and spaces)

Continually test your microsite using a mobile device to ensure it offers a positive user experience. Test different aspects such as your buttons, forms, and main menu to ensure simple, streamlined navigation from every device.

If you’re looking for new marketing ideas for your upcoming event, a well-designed microsite can help your event go more smoothly by equipping attendees with everything they need to get involved. By following these best practices, you can create a microsite that increases event awareness and strengthens engagement.

Author: Anne Stefanyk

As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.

Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew

Wrapping Up

More fundraising resources are just a click away.