In today’s day and age, the power of a strong internet presence cannot be overlooked or ignored. Most people get their information and news from their phones and laptops, so it only makes sense that your nonprofit needs to take advantage of web-based opportunities to reach your audience.
You work at your organization because you are passionate about the good that you do and the cause it supports. It’s unlikely that your nonprofit team has a web designer or development expert on hand. However, this does not mean you can’t still have an amazing, credible website that will appeal to donors.¹
A quality website will not only provide information about your organization’s mission and good work—it will also elicit an emotional response from the site visitor and encourage them to support your organization.
If you are unfamiliar with website creation, don’t worry! We are going to walk through some of the most important dos and don’ts that you should follow as you create or update your nonprofit’s site:
- Do: Consult with a full-service website development agency.
- Don’t: Design your website in a vacuum.
- Do: Maintain your nonprofit’s branding.
- Don’t: Let your mission be obscured.
- Do: Make donating quick and easy.
- Don’t: Unnecessarily complicate your site.
- Do: Utilize calls to action throughout your site.
- Don’t: Ignore the value of social media connections.
A good website will enable your organization to connect with more people, raise more funds, and accomplish more good in your community. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Do: Consult with a full-service website development agency.
As a part of your nonprofit’s fundraising team, you have a lot on your plate and likely don’t want to add yet another task to your docket. However, you realize the importance of a good website and want to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Consulting with a website development agency that specializes in nonprofit sites is the perfect way to ensure you have a great site without all the extra stress of doing it yourself.²
At DNL OmniMedia, we are dedicated to helping nonprofits all the way through the website design process. This process includes:
- Setting goals, parameters, and guidelines for your site.
- Creating a wireframe to illustrate the layout of the site.
- Filling out the wireframe with your organization’s visual elements.
- Developing the pages of your site on the front-end and back-end.
- Implementing and managing your site’s content.
- Testing and launching the new site!
By working closely with a nonprofit web designer, you can ensure your vision for your site is realized without actually needing to do the work yourself!
Don’t: Design your website in a vacuum.
While originality is highly regarded in our society, that does not mean that you cannot gain insights from talking to experienced web designers and looking at successful nonprofit websites. To best design your website, you should take into consideration techniques that are proven to be effective on nonprofit websites.
While no two nonprofits are alike, there are some commonalities between the best nonprofit sites.³ Each website includes the following:
- A clearly accessible donation page.
- Mobile responsive capabilities.
- Multimedia visuals.
- Easy navigation tools.
There is no reason why your nonprofit should not follow these best practices and take some pointers from websites that are clearly effective in their field⁴. This doesn’t mean that your site is not still going to be extremely personalized to your specific organization, but it is illogical to ignore what has proven to be successful for other nonprofits.
Do: Maintain your nonprofit’s branding.
How many of us can identify the exact shade of blue on the Facebook icon, or recognize the golden arches of McDonald’s from miles away? Branding is crucial to the success of any organization and your website should be a seamless extension of your branding.
To cultivate a consistent brand throughout your site, make sure you have a unique color scheme that distinguishes you from other sites and corresponds with your logo. Your logo should also be prominently displayed, preferably in the running header and footer to ensure it is always on the page.
It is much too easy for people to get distracted, frustrated, or otherwise lost when looking at a website. People can leave your site, never to return, with one simple swipe of a finger or click of a mouse. Maintain your branding throughout your entire site to ensure you stand out from other sites and are easily recognizable to your supporters.⁵
Don’t: Let your mission be obscured.
The main goal of your website should be to engage with visitors and encourage them to support your organization. If you want to gain supporters, your organization’s mission needs to be front-and-center—don’t let your organization’s amazing mission be obscured as you build out your website.
Use your site as a platform from which you can tell the story of your organization and its cause. Site visitors should immediately be confronted with stories and evidence of your organization’s work on your site’s homepage. Post images, videos, and posts about your impact and why your organization is vitally important.
To ensure site visitors can adequately understand the good your organization does, you should:
- Have a page dedicated to personal testimonials from those affected by your nonprofit.
- Post regular progress updates on your immediate and long term goals.
With these two features on your website, visitors will not be able to forget the value of your organization or the reason behind your hard work.
Do: Make donating quick and easy.
Once individuals understand why your organization is so important, they may feel led to make a donation to your organization. Donors can easily get discouraged from giving their contributions if the donation process is too difficult. Maximize conversions on your site by providing a quick and easy method of donation for all donors to use.⁶
Online donation is the most convenient and preferred method of donation for most donors today. Therefore, your site should make donating as easy as possible to accommodate this. Your Ways to Give page should outline types of donation for donors, including:
- One-time donations.
- Recurring giving.
- Planned and memorial gifts.
- Matching gifts.
Donors will be more likely to donate if they have access to all the information they feel they need to do so. An informed donor is a generous donor. After all, a donor can’t get their gift matched by their employer or enroll in a seamless recurring donation plan if they don’t know they can.
You’ll also need to ensure the donation tool you use is seamlessly integrated into your site and will not complicate the process for the donor.⁷
Don’t: Unnecessarily complicate your site.
Nonprofit website design can be tricky. But if you consult with experienced web developers and take notes from successful pages you will surely be able to expertly design your site. One of the biggest stumbling blocks that nonprofit teams face is not overcomplicating their webpages.
Don’t make your site unnavigable or needlessly complex because you will discourage visitors from exploring your site and supporting your organization.
Your site’s navigation should be extremely intuitive. Avoid forcing people to search through your site for the page that they need to learn more about your organization or contribute to your fundraising campaign.
Consider including in your running header and footer navigation tools that provide easy access to:
- Why your cause is important.
- Your primary mission.
- Your concrete goals for supporting your cause.
- The donation page.
- Other ways they can be involved (i.e. volunteering)
Implementing an effective nonprofit web design strategy should be a priority at your organization.⁸
Do: Utilize calls to action throughout your site.
With the help of effective navigational tools, you should be able to successfully direct people to your donation pages. However, this does not mean that you should not still use other pages on your site to encourage visitors to support your organization.
In addition to the donation buttons located throughout your site’s pages, the copy of the pages themselves should encourage readers to donate to your organization. The purpose of your site is to inform readers about your cause and build a story around your organization that inspires them to donate.
When you are telling these stories, it is important to let the reader know how they can help and invite them to do so. It is not enough to simply tell the reader that the work you are doing is important, you need to be adamant that you can do even more with their help. Frequent calls to action within your site are the best way to guarantee that your site visitors are aware of your needs and feel compelled to contribute.
While designing and developing your site is of the utmost importance to the success of your organization’s online fundraising campaigns, you also need to increase the visibility of your site. Don’t overlook the role of social media integrations when you are looking to promote your site.
Social media marketing is one of the best ways to gain exposure online among a wide range of potential constituents. Your organization should engage with supporters on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to ensure more people have the opportunity to engage with your nonprofit. You can even embed your twitter feed into your site⁹ for a seamlessly integrated experience.
Once you have recognized the value of social media and begun incorporating it into your fundraising strategy, you can fully utilize the power of peer-to-peer fundraising.¹⁰
A quality nonprofit website is incredibly important for the success of online fundraising campaigns, as well as raising awareness of your organization and its cause. Make sure you follow these dos and don’ts for designing a great nonprofit site and you will be set up for success!