For nonprofit organizations, an effective website is essential for success. With all the nonprofits out there these days, potential donors use nonprofit websites as a screening tool. Basically, they visit your site to check you out. Provide a strong site and they’re hooked; offer a disappointing experience and they’ll leave as quick as they can tap a finger.
At eleventy, we help a lot of nonprofit organizations to update and redesign their websites. Through our work, we’ve identified a handful of essential elements far too many nonprofit websites are missing. In today’s post, we’ll share those elements to help you more effectively reach and engage potential donors and volunteers.
Six Imperatives of Every Nonprofit Website
If your nonprofit organization’s website is missing any of these elements, make a concentrated effort to add them immediately:
1. How each donation makes a difference
In a time when consumers are more conscious of nonprofit spending than ever before, it’s more important to show how a dollar can make a difference. As soon as an individual drops into your website, they should be shown how they can help. Be specific too. For example: $10 buys ten cans of soup; or $20 can rescue a dog; or $50 can provide a camp scholarship for a child with autism.
2. The population you help (names and faces)
Too often, nonprofits say what they do without personifying it. This creates a barrier between potential donors and the population they’re trying to help. You want to create an immediate emotional connection. Who are you more likely to give money to: Starving children in Sudan or Amira, a young Sudanese girl living off a handful of grain a day? Show pictures and tell stories of who you are helping.
3. A prominent donate button
Don’t make a visitor search for a way to make a donation on your site. Because they won’t. They’ll leave without giving. Make your donate page prominent from the moment they hop on your site, and visible on every page. It can be in the header, navigation, sidebar—or even all three. Just make sure it’s easy to find. A user should be able to donate the exact moment they have the inkling. Don’t make them work for it.
4. A blog or other updated content
In today’s online world, every website needs to have an area of updated content. People want to know a website is living and breathing, not just collecting dust. Yes, you want core content to effectively relay your message. But you also want updated blog posts, news feeds, testimonials or story pages to show and tell visitors what your organization has done lately. You always want your site to look current.
5. Icons linking to your social media pages
This is an easy one. Yet too many nonprofit sites still lack social media icons. These icons should appear on your home page and every other page. They serve two purposes: (1) showing visitors your organization is active on social media (definitely appealing to Millennials); and (2) giving them quick and easy access to those pages. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. (and you should be), make sure you have the icons displayed in your website header or sidebar to prove it.
6. Your one-of-a-kind personality
As Samuel L. Jackson said in Pulp Fiction: “Personality goes a long way”. Why then do so many nonprofits exclude all the things that make them unique and interesting from their websites? It’s amazing how many nonprofit websites look and sound exactly the same. Design your website and write your content to make it reflect the personality of your organization. Give people the same feeling visiting your website that they would get walking into your offices or working with you in the field to achieve your mission.
Make Your Website an Acquisition Asset
A lot of great nonprofits are hindered by their websites. They just don’t effectively represent the nonprofit in the digital realm and, as a result, nonprofits lose out on a lot of online engagement. That means lost donors and volunteers who were interested enough to visit your site—but not compelled enough to stick around.
For organizations relying on the acquisition of new donors to survive and thrive, your website is an incredibly important marketing tool. Make your website experience powerful and memorable so people can easily take away what you do, who you do it for and how they can join you in making a difference.
The Web, like the nonprofit world, is an increasingly crowded space. If you manage to draw a potential donor to your site, don’t let them leave unfulfilled. Use your site to reel them in and strengthen their perception of your brand.
Think your nonprofit website might need a tune up? Start a conversation with eleventy today, and we’ll assess your website and provide you with our feedback.