For businesses, the website is the single most valuable piece of digital real estate they have. And the same is true, if not more so, for nonprofits.
Nonprofits are under far more pressure to tell their constituents their story, to have a brand that they live by, and have ethical values that drive their behaviour. And telling those elements to the world is where websites shine.
So here are the five key features you need to include on your nonprofit site to making it shine as brightly as possible.
1. Simple, Clear Calls to Action (CTA)
For businesses, the calls to action (CTAs) are usually pretty straight forward — “Buy Now” or “Give Us Your Information.” There are lots of different flavours of this, like free trials, freemium business models, product demos, content marketing, and more… but the basic idea is the same. And the reason it’s the same everywhere is because it works really, really well. Websites that don’t have a clear ask for the visitors make them go “Hmm, that’s interesting” and then wander away.
And we’re willing to bet that’s not your core objective. So make sure every page has great CTA. That means:
- A clear ask. Visitors need to understand what you want them to do.
- Compelling button copy. Make your CTA easy to see, understand and use.
- Transparent. Make sure the visitor knows what’s going to happen next when they hit your CTA.
2. Drive Online Donations
If you’re a nonprofit that collects donations, then your website is a great place to do it. For starters, any traffic you have to your website was likely acquired via organic or paid media — both of which are incredibly cost-effective donation acquisition channels. That’s why it’s critical that you monetize your site and give you visitors an easy way to give back to your organization.
One good example of this is the YWCA Toronto, one of our clients who we helped by streamlining online donations and making their user experience simple, fast, mobile-optimized, and easy to use.
3. Become a Content Hub
Nonprofits are unique in that they often have access to dense knowledge networks within their organizations. For example, if you run a nonprofit that helps people find housing, you probably have a lot of expertise within your city’s housing ecosystem.
If you can turn that institutional knowledge into content for your constituents, you can vastly improve the quality of service and care you can provide.
And this doesn’t have to be some huge project. A simple blog is a great place to start, written by existing team members.
What’s more, you can easily use a content hub to produce donor-specific content, designed to increase donations on your site.
4. Understand Your User Flow
Not every visitor is going to visit every page of your site. You need to remember that to maximize your user experience, so how you design follows the path your users are already taking.
For instance, if you’re finding that 90% of your homepage visitors click through to your contact page, then it might be worth putting a contact form on the homepage.
By understanding what your visitors do on your site, where they go, an in what order, you can start to maximize your impact.
5. Client Success Stories
Nothing connects people to a mission better than a success story:
- People remember stories better than anything else
- Stories bring an element of realism to a potentially dry topic
- Stories add credibility that you’re living your stated mission.
These stories can be as a low-budget blog post to a high-end production shoot. Stick with what you’re comfortable with and, if it works out, start to double down.
Designing a great nonprofit site isn’t all that different from designing a great for profit.
And we can learn a lot from for-profits.
Here’s a quick checklist of questions to ask yourself to bring your nonprofit website up to snuff.
Are your calls to action clear, simple, and tell the reader what to expect? If so, you’re good. If not, you might want to look at your CTAs.
Can you collect donations online? Online donations are a great (and inexpensive) way to increase contributions. If you don’t have donation capabilities, you’re leaving contributions on the table.
Are you a content hub for donors and constituents alike? If not, you should be. You have dense expertise that can be spun into interesting content for your users, which in turn is interesting to your donors. At the same time, with donor-centric content about your vision, mission, and achievements, then you can juice up your online donations even more.
Are you creating success stories? Most nonprofits have nebulous and complex missions and goals, and it can be difficult for people to grasp what they do. A case study of a client you’ve helped can do wonders to simplify what you do into a format that people can remember it for long enough grab their chequebooks.
Websites don’t have to be complicated beasts, especially for nonprofits. But following these five best practice, you’ll be well on your way to a site you’re proud of in no time at all.