Your nonprofit needs a great website in order to thrive. Your website is the primary way to communicate your message and values, raise money, and potentially get volunteers involved with your organization. In an increasingly digital world, it’s hard for a nonprofit to succeed at any of these tasks without an optimized website.
Most nonprofits are strapped for cash, and no one wants to break the bank on their website. Given its importance, though, your nonprofit needs to make its website as appealing and user friendly as possible. Here are a few principles to follow in designing your website and examples of other organizations that have succeeded.
Have A Call To Action
Page views or nice, but it doesn’t do any good for people to visit your website if they leave without giving it a second thought. You want people to get involved with your organization after visiting your site, whether that means donating money, other goods, or their time as volunteers.
Your call to action needs to be engaging, but also specific. Explain to people where their money will go, and why it is necessary. Show examples of what volunteers can accomplish. Bridge the gap in people’s minds between the abstract monetary donation and the tangible good that they can bring about.
Unsurprisingly, the American Red Cross does an excellent job with its call to action. The first thing you see on their page is a button to donate, as well as a field to sign up for e-mail newsletters and a link that helps you find locations to donate blood. Also, when you go to their donation page, it remains visually engaging and consistent with their brand. Studies have shown that people donate more on branded pages rather than generic third party sites.
Make It Mobile Friendly
Over a third of web traffic today happens on mobile devices. People increasingly carry out serious business on their phones and tablets. If your website has lots of small text or forces users to zoom in or out significantly when they first arrive, it will detract significantly from the experience.
Feed The Children has a great mobile website. It’s full of large, arresting images that show up well even on a small screen. It’s organized vertically so that you can scroll down through discrete messages and calls to action. All buttons are large enough to easily be used on a small touch screen.
Create Great Blog Content
Blogs are no longer optional for nonprofits. A good blog with consistently updated quality content serves as a marketing tool for your organization, a way to get people sharing your message with each other, and an opportunity to create deeper engagement with people already visiting your site.
Oxfam America has fantastic blog content. All of its posts are accompanies with powerful images, and many of these posts include specific calls to action to get involved with that particular issue. They also post several times a week. Consistency is critical in gaining traction for your blog. You might not have the resources to post that often, but aim to at least post once a week to build up a strong base of recurring visitors.
With so many nonprofits out there, social media can be a great way to differentiate your organization. When someone shares your website on Facebook or Twitter, it allows you to reach a new audience and increases your credibility among that person’s friends.
Everyone knows about the Ice Bucket Challenge at this point, but the ALS Association does a lot of other things right when it comes to social media. Their website has large, noticeable buttons that encourage you to like and share them on social media. They also post consistently on all platforms and communicate effectively with other users.
Remember though, your social media efforts are only as effective as the rest of your website. If your layout is unappealing and confusing, people referred to your site through social media will be less likely to donate or get involved.