As a nonprofit organization aiming to reach a wider audience and soliciting support, a functional website is one of the most valuable communication tools at your disposal.
Effective fundraising and brand management are streamlined through clear, well-designed websites, providing stakeholders and visitors with need-to-know information.
There are important things that every nonprofit website should have in order to help convey the role your organization plays so that members and potential donors understand your cause, mission, and vision.
Now, let’s have a look at some key points to consider in your channel management that edge you above the rest of your competition when you’re building your website:
1. Know Your Audience and Delight Them
A good place to start when you’re creating a website to attract attention and support is to know your target audience.
All visitors should have pleasant and enjoyable experiences on your website so consider small “wow” factors that enhance their time on the different web pages.
Remember that not every site visitor will browse all pages on your site, so you need to maximize their time on each page.
Create a roadmap to make things easier for your visitors as they navigate your site. Understand what your visitors do and where they go on your site, in what order. Then, you can leverage this information to optimize their experience.
For instance, if your site’s purpose is connecting with poor families then it is important to have clear directions for them; they should be able to follow to receive funding. Consider putting contact forms on your homepage to get them to join the email platform your non-profit uses to stay connected.
You might also think about ways visitors may become involved, such as becoming:
- Social media followers
- Email subscribers
2. Essential Content
The saying “content is king” tells us that the success of your website relies heavily on high-quality, unique, and relevant content.
Once you have defined your users and understand what they care about, it makes it easier to compile relevant and useful content.
Having a content hub allows users to view specific content in a central place.
Here users can find out information about your cause, issues your organization addresses, and resources that help people.
Research has revealed that typical website visitors skim through headlines, bullet points, and images; just a quarter of the text is read through.
Because of this, we need to ensure content is powerful enough to keep users engaged as they navigate from page to page.
Not sure what content to add to your pages? Fear not. There are many ways to keep users engaged.
Here are some great ideas for content:
- Articles: Your organization may have a niche: tackling social problems, combating disease, research experts, or dealing with a certain issue. Take advantage of this and compile articles that are focused. Use these articles to keep social media posts updated.
- Photos: Great images really pay off. Having them on every page makes your site easy for your users’ eyes. Revolving images are fantastic at keeping your pages fresh and interesting. Add images of the people you serve, your donors, as well as your team and volunteers. If you run a lot of events and begin to accumulate a lot of images and it gets overwhelming, consider getting photo management software to stay organized.
- Videos: Platforms such as YouTube have made it easy to embed videos on your pages. Short videos are more popular and keep users engaged. If you’re looking for a great platform to make these videos, I’ve found that the Movavi video editor is great and it’s very beginner-friendly.
- Blog: A blog written by team members is a great starting point as it can pack a punch on a variety of things, and search engines love blogs. These work well for nonprofits that are very active and need to update their members frequently.
- Newsroom: This is an excellent hub for updates and a blessing to journalists. You could include links to other sites’ releases or published stories on your organization.
- User-generated content: Get your members, volunteers, beneficiaries, and shareholders to feel involved in the flow of content. It adds a pleasing dynamism to your site. Encourage readers to submit comments, but monitor all comments as you may find a nasty remark showing up.
Keep in mind that some visitors may have hearing and sight impairments and could struggle to engage with your content. Providing additional written content or video captions where necessary shows you care about all genres of people.
And remember to keep your content short and to the point.
Be careful not to overload your site with images and text, they can work against you and distract users away from the core messaging.
Having regular interactions with your users to find out what they look for on your website helps keep you flexible yet focused on achieving the goals of your site.
3. Have Clear Calls-to-Action (CTA)
Clear-cut communication is crucial to a positive user experience.
Start by deciding what the essential calls to action are and have them easily visible on all pages.
Websites that have unclear CTAs often leave visitors thinking “ That’s interesting” and wandering away.
Be clear about the actions you’d like users to take, and how they can execute them. For instance,
- Where and how can donors give?
- How do you become a member?
- What number do users call?
There are lots of straightforward CTAs to choose from. Try to limit one or two on the home page.
Let’s look at an example from a company that most of us are familiar with, Grubhub.
The purpose of this page, if you haven’t guessed it already, is to entice people to become Grubhub drivers.
Clear-cut CTAs are an old-time favorite of businesses worldwide because they really work well.
Use a catchy phrase like “ Join our community” or “Join the movement.” for your CTA button and avoid dull phrases like “Subscribe now.”
Make sure your users know what will happen next when they click on your calls-to-action. No one wants to donate by accident and awkwardly ask for their money back.
Along with managing user expectations, Neal Taparia, who runs popular gaming platform Solitaired, recommends putting the CTA within the user workflow. “You have to put your CTAs in an obvious place where the user will look. We had built a custom solitaire game for a charity, and once we put the donate CTA above the fold and adjacent to the game, we dramatically increased donations.”
4. Drive Online Donations
The websites of most nonprofit organizations are ideally created to funnel visitors to the donation page.
Directing visitors to the donations page or form has a huge impact on your organization’s fundraising, so prioritize this.
While membership may make up the majority of funding, donations produce additional revenue and are essential to aiming towards your overall success.
Visitors may ask “Why should I donate to this nonprofit?” so make sure your content clearly answers this for them. This can make or break an online fundraising strategy.
Create great content that drives donations, such as compelling videos, stories of impact, or field operation photos.
One good rule of thumb is that no matter where users are on your site, your donation form should be just one click away.
Keep your donation form simple by asking for the least amount of information, such as the donor’s name, payment method, and amount donated. Nothing turns donors off like completing extensive forms.
Promote different ways that any donor can give, from a one-time donation to recurring or monthly, as well as crowdfunding or asset beneficiaries and any other options.
And be clear with each of the giving opportunities.
Ongoing monthly donations are a crucial funding source, so do your best to direct visitors down this route and encourage recurring giving.
Pro Tip: Using a built-in donation form usually drives more donations instead of linking external forms.
5. Evaluations and Regular Updates
As an active nonprofit organization, it’s important to keep your website up to date with the work you are doing.
Be sure to continually update your website. Add new stories to it and remove obsolete articles to avoid losing credibility.
With the use of Google Analytics, you can access invaluable data regarding popular pages that visitors navigate, and relevant demographics that drive you to keep updating your strategy.
Nothing is more frustrating than browsing through a website and meeting links that do not connect.
Be sure every visitor sails smoothly through all your pages and that they’re able to find everything easily, from the login page to donation forms.
6. Stories and/or Testimonials
Have you noticed how much better a mission’s success story becomes once you add personal stories to it?
That’s because human expressions convey emotions that other humans recognize and relate to.
People remember stories from those involved in the mission work more than any other information regarding the mission.
As you know, nonprofits are under a lot more pressure to tell their story, build their brand, and have ethical values driving their behavior.
Telling the world about these, among other elements, is where your website is given a chance to shine.
Real-life stories always bring realism to an otherwise dry topic and add credibility showing you’re living up to your mission statement.
You can easily use a blog post or a production shoot to share stories and testimonial videos, ranging from low-budget to high-end options.
Being transparent and straightforward is a key element in gaining trust with visitors and potential donors.
Supply them with facts, information, and relevant statistics to support your claims and back up testimonials.
This allows donors to make an educated choice when giving.
Remember to limit the number of stock photos you use. Although they may have better quality, real-life photos typically work best.
You can share photos of program locations, beneficiaries, volunteers, donors, your team, and real clients.
Pictures like these work better to humanize your brand, increasing trustworthiness and honor.
7. News, Blogs, and Events
Having a nerve center for news, blogs, and events is important and can help you fuel your growth by having knowledge at the fingertips of your readers.
Provide an outlet to share and post educational content as well as blogs and stories that evoke emotion, compelling engagement, and possible donations.
A few content ideas are:
- Donor and volunteer stories
- Industry news and insights
- Client stories
- Q&A with expert staff
- Behind the scenes
- Industry resources
- Host a live webinar with an expert in your respective field
Allow readers access to your organization’s schedule of events so they have the option to join in or donate towards missions.
Special events can put your fundraising on another level and create awareness around your cause.
Displaying your event schedule makes your organization accountable and gives readers a sense that you’re actively working towards your goals.
8. Don’t Forget To Use Social Media
As most nonprofit organizations have limited budgets, in order to gain a strong online presence there are cost-effective platforms that are efficient in spreading your mission.
Social media platforms make for a wider reach and allow visitors to share insightful posts at their convenience. Social sharing options have increased accessibility to a wider audience. By 2022, 82% of the global traffic will come from social media platforms.
By creating this facility, supporters are more likely to pass on your message to their network contacts.
So make sure that your website clearly features social sharing buttons and ensure these links work and ensure social platforms remain updated.
For businesses, the most common social platforms are YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. You can even use social media scheduling tools to schedule posts. Hootsuite is one of the widely used software for scheduling posts.
Also, check out some of the best Hootsuite alternatives + free-forever services for managing social media.
There are also various ways you could increase your visibility on these platforms, for example, sponsored ads.
9. Private Pages
You may be asking “What are private pages and why are they important to have on your website?”
These are members-only pages and come across as a great incentive to attract users to join your organization as well as retaining valuable members.
A substantial portion of a nonprofit’s revenue is likely generated from a membership program, so be sure to have one in place.
Because of this, you will need to prioritize your members’ experience by offering exclusive resources as well as forums and members-only events.
Wouldn’t you feel special if you were part of the inner circle who had the privilege of accessing certain resources and information about the organization?
Now that we have covered the key elements to have on your website, let’s have a quick rundown of things to keep in mind:
Are your calls-to-action simple and clear? Do they inform readers what to expect? Hopefully, you answered yes, this is a very key element to securing funding and donations.
Next: Can donors give online? Does your website have donation capabilities? Be sure not to leave contributions out of reach.
Do you have enough case studies and success stories to simplify how people understand your mission and grasp what you do? Stories work wonders in helping people reach for their checkbooks.
Remind yourself that your website is your online bread and butter in getting recognition and increasing your visibility.
Creating the best website can put you on the map and spread the word about your mission.
If you have built an effective site, it should allow you to collect donations online, engage with supporters and readers, and increase your organization’s awareness.
Keeping your site simple and straight to the point allows readers and potential donors in the loop about your organization. It also provides ways in which they can help achieve your mission.
For additional tips and resources on nonprofit management, you may visit our nonprofit blog.
About the Author
Ron Stefanski is an online entrepreneur and marketing professor who has a passion for helping people create and market their own online businesses. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com.