This post is a guest blog by Ira Horowitz of Cornershop Creative
Your nonprofit’s website can play a key role in getting more support for your cause, whether you’re working to combat child hunger in your local community or supporting efforts to preserve endangered species around the world.
However, as you take a closer look at your website, you may notice a few things holding it back from being a great marketing tool for your mission and fundraising efforts. Perhaps your navigation menu is a little jumbled, or your site’s images and graphics lack alternative text, leaving gaps in the user experience for those using assistive technology. Or, maybe the site’s look is outdated because you recently revamped your visual brand, causing confusion for people who attend your events and then try to find you online.
Though seemingly insignificant, these design flaws may actually be preventing your nonprofit from connecting with supporters online—costing you not only critical donations but also volunteers, blog readers, social media followers, and more.
In this post, we’ll help you lay a strong foundation for fine-tuning your website. We’ll discuss four ways strong nonprofit web design can get your organization better results:
- Strong web design helps you easily get your message across.
- Strong web design connects you with more supporters.
- Strong web design drives more donations.
- Strong web design empowers you to provide important resources.
Once you know the specifics of why strong nonprofit website design matters, you will be able to more easily identify potential problems and their solutions. Then, you’ll be well on your way to making your nonprofit website one of the best on the web!
1) Strong web design helps you easily get your message across.
Your message and your mission are the most compelling components of your organization. And your website helps you communicate that message.
Think about what a poorly-designed website might communicate about your organization. It might leave visitors questioning the professionalism of your organization, or worse, your dedication to your cause and beneficiaries.
Unfortunately, this reaction isn’t only limited to low-quality websites. Even well-designed websites can have issues with bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who leave immediately after landing on a webpage). There are many factors that can lead to a high bounce rate, making it more challenging to communicate your mission’s importance. These factors 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 all devices and that it’s quick and easy to navigate will 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 is actively working toward its mission and to boost engagement with your upcoming events and activities.
- Lack of calls-to-action (CTAs): Statistics show that making your donate CTA button stand out can result in a 190% increase in donations. Using a consistent CTA strategy across your site will make it clear to visitors what they can do to interact with and help your organization. When designing CTAs, pay special attention to the wording. Instead of generic wording like “Donate Here” or “Sign Up” try more eye-catching options like “Give Now to End Cancer for Good” or “Never Miss a Beat—Get Our Newsletter.”
If you want to get visitors to stay on your website and understand the message you’re trying to share, you’ll need to 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 in 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.
2) Strong web design connects you with more supporters.
It’s a no-brainer: more supporters equals more support—and that support will look different for everyone, whether they’re participating in your monthly giving program or participating in your annual community-wide 5K.
The point is, the further you can expand your organization’s reach, the better! And strong website design can help you there. Because when your website is performing well, accessible to all, and linked to other marketing channels (such as your email campaigns or your social media profiles), you’ll naturally get your mission in front of more people.
Here are three strategies that can help you grow your nonprofit’s reach and broaden your community:
- Leverage SEO best practices to gain better visibility. Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your website so that it is more easily visible on search engines’ results pages (like Google). Cornershop Creative’s guide to SEO for nonprofits provides actionable tips to fine-tune your website for search engine performance. From optimizing pages for keywords to building backlinks to your content on other websites, there are a number of strategies you can use to improve your website’s SEO performance and increase organic search traffic.
- Optimize your website for accessibility. According to the Web Accessibility Initiative, an ideal website is “accessible to people with a diverse range of hearing, movement, sight, and cognitive ability.” In order to connect with people of all abilities, your nonprofit’s website should adhere to website accessibility guidelines. Doing so will entail adding alternative text to images and graphics, providing captioning and transcripts for multimedia content, and employing other best practices outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
- Create a two-way channel between your website and your social media profiles. According to Statista, as of 2022, internet users around the world use social media for an average of 2.5 hours every day. What does that mean for your nonprofit? Social media is a great place to find new supporters for your cause! Whether your nonprofit uses Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (or all three), create a healthy flow of traffic between your website by incorporating social media sharing buttons in your web content and actively directing your social media followers back to your website.
Because of how often everyone uses the web, there are limitless potential supporters out there who your nonprofit just needs to find! With a well-designed website, you can get them interested in your mission and involved in your work in no time.
3) Strong web design drives more donations.
Without donations, your nonprofit won’t have the funds it needs to continue working toward its mission. But how does web design impact your fundraising progress?
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 to make sure your form is ready to help you accomplish your fundraising goals.
Your donation page 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 pinch and zoom to view the required fields. However, a clean-cut form that’s straightforward to fill out will encourage more visitors to both start and complete a donation.
- Safe and secure: It’s important to reassure your supporters that the information they provide via your website is safe and secure—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 their payment information is in good hands 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 information, payment information, and the amount they want to donate. You should also consider offering suggested giving amounts and/or the option to make their donation a recurring payment. The simpler your process, the more donors will appreciate it. They may even become regular donors!
- Branded to your organization: Your donation page design should also bring your organization’s branding to the forefront. (And make sure it’s consistent with everything else on your website.) 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 for Alley Cat Allies is straightforward, branded, and offers suggested giving amounts and a monthly gift option. It also features a brief introduction that explains how donations help the organizations and the cats it works to save.
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’ time and personal information. To make this process even easier, use a nonprofit website builder that will allow you to build your form directly into your website and automatically optimize it for mobile devices.
4) Strong web design empowers you to provide important resources.
Need to get important news out about your capital campaign to your community? Or offer a volunteer portal where your supporters can sign up for shifts at your food bank?
Good news! A well-designed website can be a hub for important resources and tools that make it easy for your supporters to learn about and get involved in your work.
Here are some resources you can add to your website:
- A regularly-updated blog: According to Getting Attention’s guide to nonprofit blogs, a blog can help you provide regular updates to your audience, promote your brand, and establish your authority. Wondering what to blog about? You might share updates on your volunteer program, highlight the stories of beneficiaries who you’ve been able to help, or write up summaries of recent fundraising events and their results.
- Multimedia content: Research shows that visuals are processed between six and 600 times faster than text. So, why not change up the typical scroll-and-read website experience? Add high-quality images and videos to your web pages to bring your cause to life.
- Event landing pages: Have an event like a conference or gala coming up? Create a dedicated landing page for your events and all the details associated with them. Include a link to your registration form, and information about the date, time, location, and dress code. You can even add a link to your donation form and encourage event attendees to donate before the event.
Depending on how extensive you want your library of resources to be, you could also build out other tools, such as how-to guides for advocacy work, volunteer training materials, or informational documents about your planned giving program.
Every nonprofit and its community of supporters is different, so create resources that you know will meet your specific audience’s needs!
Strong nonprofit website design does more for your organization than just making your site look pretty. It will help your organization spread awareness about its work, find more supporters, bring in donations, and offer important tools and resources to your community.
So, where do you go from here? Begin by taking stock of the current state of your website, looking for areas of improvement. No matter the changes you decide to make, remember to take a walk in your website visitors’ shoes and consider how you could make their user experience a positive one.
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.