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7 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

This article will discuss seven best practices for nonprofit websites. Making sure you are thinking about these few things can help you appeal to your potential donors and volunteers without alienating others who may not be ready yet. Your website is the most frequently used channel to drive visitors to your website, so you should make sure you optimize for not only conversions but also conversations. These website best practices will help you do just that.

Clearly Communicate your mission

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It takes good design to raise Dollars and awareness

Does your website clearly communicate who you are and what your organization does?

  1. Nonprofits are unique in that they have multiple target audiences (donors, volunteers, news and media outlets, etc.). The website needs to clearly communicate who you are and what your organization does for all of these different target audiences. It is key to clearly communicate your identity and your mission. Do this by using strong, consistent messaging across all website pages. / Before people are willing to donate and support a cause or organization, they have to know about the heart, soul, and mission of your nonprofit. 84% of Millennials give to charity, donating an annual average of $481 across 3.3 organizations (https://nonprofitssource.com/). In order to reach this young, charitable demographic your organization must be clear about who you are and what you do. This means having strong brand messaging on all website pages, including the homepage.

Does your website tell a compelling story about the nonprofit? 

History is important in establishing credibility with visitors on your nonprofit website; it shows that your organization is trustworthy and has been around for a while. To communicate longevity, use historic photos, videos of past events, or an early version of your logo. Be sure to label the dates of when photos were taken so visitors can see how much work your organization has done to help others.

Be transparent about the why

History also plays an important role in modern-day user experience design.

It shows visitors that your nonprofit is transparent by showing them what you have accomplished and the different stages of the growth. If your organization is not yet an established brand with it’s own history, take the time to establish credibility by adding biographies about key individuals in the organization (founders, board members). According to research by The Nonprofit Website Effectiveness Project, only 21 % of websites have a section that explains how the organization was founded. mage: 2011 Nonprofit Website Effectiveness Project, p. 29 [1] Another great way to establish credibility is by providing social proof, or showing visitors you are an established entity by listing your partners, volunteers, donors, and/or funders(if they are open to it).

Does your website provide valuable information to your visitors?

  1. Creating content for your nonprofit website should be the main priority. A nonprofit organization’s website is its primary digital presence. While we acknowledge that many organizations are still using traditional media to reach their audiences, in the long run, it is important to view your website as the main hub for everything: from explaining your mission statement, goals, and accomplishments; to community outreach and fundraising; to disseminating your news. Giving informative content to your visitors will help build rapport with them, and the more they get to know you, the more likely they are to donate and/or volunteer. Visitors recognize quality content when it is presented in a professional way. Posts and Articles and newsletters that are engaging create a sense of care from your organization. It is important to have posts on your nonprofit’s website that are entertaining, informative, or thought-provoking. 

Having an interactive Facebook page can also be a great way to engage with your audience. You don’t want too many dark colors, though many different elements can appeal to the target demographic, which might be small children or elderly citizens who have limited knowledge of social media platforms like Facebook. You want all age groups to appeal to through a range of personalities and appeal. Make sure that any image appeals to the anticipated viewer.

Engage with your visitors in ways that are important

Nonprofit organizations need informative yet attractive websites to show the true character of the organization as a whole. how easy your visitors can navigate and engage with your website plays a huge role in the overall experience they will get from your nonprofit. Does the website have a clear call to action? Nonprofit websites need to be easily navigable and should focus on getting visitors to take action. Your website is an extension of your marketing plan, and it should appeal directly to new volunteers or sponsors to get them into your organization. If you are creating content, you want to make sure that it is easy to share and spread through social media channels. This appeal will obviously appeal to more potential donors or sponsors. Does your website meet accessibility standards? Since 2010, the US government has mandated that all federal agencies and federally funded programs meet web-accessibility guidelines under Section 508. “ agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information comparable to the access available to others.” ( US-CERT.gov) This has caused a slight increase in accessibility requirements for all websites, but more specifically for nonprofits since most are government-funded. The importance of appeal and ease to get started with your nonprofit is key when sharing links on social media channels. Many sites have buttons made explicitly to appeal to Facebook, Twitter users, and others. You want to appeal to your content through text, images, and other media. There are a number of sites that have created pop-up boxes for easier sharing on social media platforms. The method is not preferred by Google but it helps appeal to those users who are passionate about your nonprofit cause. Get create and test what works for you.

Get important data about your visitors

Measure Your Website Success

It is important to appeal and see what works for your nonprofit’s website, and it is equally important (if not more) to measure the success of all of the effort you’ve put into the events, planning sessions board meetings, and overall marketing strategy. Measure where you made contact with the audience and how many of them engaged with your nonprofit’s website or its social media account. Measure success in volunteer time, donations, and general web traffic. It is important to analyze your overall marketing strategy by measuring the success of the individual methods that are comprised in it. Where are your website visitor coming from (social media, another website, etc.), what time of day are they most visiting the website, what pages are they visiting? Answering these questions will help with developing a marketing strategy that works. The long-term success of marketing strategies and events relies on the analysis that is made, and how your organization adjusts to change in the market. If you don’t know who your audience is when designing a website, how can you be sure that the design will resonate with them? Knowing who your target audience is important to give them what they are indirectly telling you they want.

A more secure website increases your ability to be found organically

Just as secure coding techniques help defend against outside attacks, secure architecture practices protect your site from the inside out. practice. A secure site also helps your site compete on search engines where websites with poor web security are greatly disadvantaged.

    A secure website will help to protect your data

    A secure website will help to protect your data and content from cybercriminals. Website security features not only serve their purpose in preventing unauthorized access, but they also help reassure visitors that your organization is secure. Two-factor authentication, secure sockets layer (SSL) certificates, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and more. An SSL certificate is a very important tool for making sure your visitors feel safe by adding laying of encryption with each call to and from the server. Useful tools like captcha can protect your website from spam robots that often look for easy targets like comment fields, blog posting interfaces, and other areas on a site where information is shared easily. You should secure your online content by building secure web pages with secure coding techniques like white space characters, stored procedures in SQL databases, and secure architecture practices.

      How easy is it for visitors to donate?

      How easy is it for visitors to donate? The donation process can be complicated; especially on a website where there are multiple ways people can donate (mobile platform, text message). Do you have a simple donation process that prominently displays the amount of money donated, when it was received, what the donation is used for, the donor’s name, and any other information about them providing that information? How much are you paying per transaction is important. You want to have a secure and cost-effective way for your users to donate with little to no friction. there are many payment gateways to choose from, and what works best for your non-profit and how it integrates with your website is what really matters. How you ask for payment can also have a significant impact on your donation rates. Offering multiple payment options makes it more likely that users make a payment because people like to stick to their habits and payment methods. Providing payment windows both on the site itself and in emails can help you capture donations throughout the year. Taking payment information from donors when they sign up for your newsletter is another great way to capitalize on payment information and payment preferences by including it in the weekly or monthly e-newsletter, along with a direct call to action for donations. If recipients have already given payment information when signing up for your newsletter, reaching a larger audience of possible contributors.

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