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This post is a guest blog by Ira Horowitz of Cornershop Creative
In this day and age, nonprofits are putting forth their maximum effort to keep working toward their missions and helping their constituents. But, as many organizations have experienced, a compelling mission alone isn’t always enough to gain public support.
Having a strong online presence, and specifically a well-designed website, is essential.
Focusing on all digital channels to reach your donors, in spite of certain digital fundraising myths, is important for your success, especially amid the critical importance of virtual-only engagement today. And given that nonprofits are competing for attention and funds, strong web design can go a long way to help your organization stand out from the crowd.
That’s why we’re going to outline the top three reasons to focus on your nonprofit’s web design:
- Reason #1: It Gets Your Message Across.
- Reason #2: It Brings in More Donations.
- Reason #3: It Boosts Engagement.
More than ever, your organization’s success depends on how much effort you put into your website. Zeroing in on the reasons above will help your team understand ways to improve your website—and in turn, your website improvements will help you raise the funds you need. Let’s get started.
Reason #1: It Gets Your Message Across.
As a nonprofit professional, your message and your mission are the most compelling components of your organization. And your website directly helps you get that message across.
Maintaining your website so that it clearly presents your mission is one of the most effective steps you can take to ensure you get some well-deserved attention. That’s why keeping in mind some important nonprofit website maintenance tips will help you achieve this.
Have you ever visited a poorly designed website? Think about the impression it leaves on you and how long you actually remain on the website before exiting.
Unfortunately, this reaction isn’t only limited to lower-quality websites. Even well-designed websites can have issues with a high bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave immediately after landing on a webpage). In fact, there are many other factors that can lead to a high bounce rate. These include:
Poor user experience. Is your website mobile responsive? Is the content organized and easy to navigate? Does the website load quickly? Poor user experience is one of the leading causes of high bounce rates. Ensuring your website looks good on mobile devices and optimizing your website for page speed will help keep visitors on your site. Consider using a helpful tool like Google’s pagespeed insights to easily identify ways to begin boosting the load speeds of your pages.
Outdated information. If a visitor lands on your website and sees that your blog hasn’t been updated in two years, or that your featured events have long since passed, they’re not going to think much is going on with your organization. Keep your content updated and accurate to assure visitors that your nonprofit has a lot going on and to boost engagement with your upcoming events and activities.
Lack of calls to action (CTAs). According to recent statistics, making your donate button stand out can result in a 190% increase in donations. Keeping up a consistent CTA strategy across your site will make it clear to visitors what they can do to interact with and help your organization.
If you want to get visitors to stay on your website and understand your message, you’ll need to ensure you offer them a positive user experience, consistently update your content, and call your visitors to action. Your website is the primary source of information about your organization and your mission. You’ll be directing supporters to your website from other places (such as social media platforms) so they can view your updates and stay tuned with what’s going on.
For that reason, the way you design and maintain your website is key. Make it an easily accessible, robust source of information for anyone who’s interested in your cause.
Reason #2: It Brings in More Donations.
Without donations, your nonprofit won’t have the funds it needs to continue working toward its mission. So how does web design tie into donations?
Your online donation form is a critical part of your website. We’ve already mentioned how a prominent CTA can effectively direct supporters to your donation page, but there’s much more you can do from there.
As you design your donation page, it should be:
Intuitive and easy to navigate. Beyond visual appeal, your form should be easy to navigate, including on a mobile device. If it’s not mobile-optimized, users on their phones will need to zoom in and out to view the required fields. A clean-cut form that’s straightforward to fill out, however, will encourage more visitors to both start and complete a donation.
Safe and secure. It’s important to reassure your supporters that their information is safe and secure while on your website—especially as they’re donating. An SSL certificate will show visitors that your site is encrypted, and using a PCI-compliant payment processor to collect donations and ensure that their payment information is also a must.
Simple. Rather than asking for too much information from your donors upfront, focus on pertinent information, such as their basic contact info, payment info, and the amount they want to donate. You should also consider offering suggested giving amounts and/or the option to make their donation recurring. The simpler your process, the more donors will appreciate it. They may even become regular recurring donors!
Branded to your organization. Your web design should also bring your organization’s branding to the forefront. Make sure it’s consistent across your website, including on your donation form. Clearly featuring your logo, color scheme, and fonts will ensure your supporters recognize your nonprofit and feel comfortable using your donation form.
Take a look at this example:
This donation page is straightforward, branded, and offers suggested giving amounts and a monthly gift option. It also features a brief introduction that tells a story about how donations help the organization and its feline constituents.
As your nonprofit conducts an audit of its current website, make sure your donation process is easy to navigate, reflects your brand, and protects your supporters’ information. Looking for even more ways to optimize the online giving process? Check out the Cornershop Creative team’s guide to digital fundraising.
Reason #3: It Boosts Engagement.
Securing donations for your cause is one of the most important things your website can help you do. But beyond donations, there are other forms of engagement that can benefit your nonprofit.
Having an updated, visually appealing website with curated content that is relevant to your visitors will give them a reason to stick around. From there, you can start encouraging them to interact with your organization on a more personal level.
Here are some key ways your web design can help boost engagement:
Events. Let’s say you’re planning an upcoming fundraising event. Strategically place CTAs around your website inviting visitors to learn more about this event so they’ll be more likely to engage with it and register. Direct your visitors to the registration form so they can sign up or get more information. This also applies to virtual events!
Meaningful contacts. Keeping your organization’s contact information clear and updated will make it easy for visitors to reach out in case they have questions or want to get involved with your cause in other ways. Make sure your website features a contact page or dedicated section with important email addresses, phone numbers, or mailing addresses.
Storytelling. We’ve already mentioned how strong web design can get your organization’s message across. Within that, effective storytelling will keep your visitors engaged. Both text and visual storytelling will demonstrate the impact your nonprofit has already had and will continue to have on its constituents. Prominently feature stories about those you have helped through written words, photos, and videos to encourage your web visitors to get involved, too. Just be sure not to overwhelm your audience with too many visuals, as this can detract from your content.
The easier you make it to register for events, reach out to your contacts, and witness the impact you’re having, the more engagement you’ll find among your web visitors. And even in the midst of a pandemic, virtual events and other creative engagement opportunities can help spread the word about your cause even further; you’ll just have to back them up with intuitive web design.
Effectively designing your nonprofit’s website can do more than just make your organization look good. It’ll help you stand out, drive home your mission, and demonstrate how much you’ve already accomplished. Donors want to know they’re supporting a worthy cause, and the more you can show them about yours, the more support you’ll receive.
Need some inspiration to get you started? Check out this list of top nonprofit websites. Good luck!
Author: Ira Horowitz
With 15 years’ experience, Ira is an expert in nonprofit online communications and online fundraising. His work has resulted in increased funds and resounding supporter engagement for hundreds of organizations.
Ira oversees our project management team and works with clients to provide our clients with the best possible final product. He also manages all of our strategic engagements and helps guide nonprofits to determine their long-term strategy goals for online communications.
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