When you start to think about designing (or redesigning) your nonprofit website, you need to make sure to keep your main purpose in mind. That purpose is providing valuable content and a positive user experience for your constituents.
Therefore, you’ll want to frame your design approach around the experience you want supporters to have with your site. What do you want to accomplish with it? What do you want people to see?
Then, put yourself in the shoes of your supporters. What type of information would you look for? Where would you expect to see it?
Even if you’re working with a web design firm, you’ll still want to answer these questions for context about your website. The answers often provide stepping stones to a more actionable website. The resulting priorities for your nonprofit website often include:
- Providing information about your nonprofit’s mission.
- Collecting donations from your supporters.
- Encouraging involvement from the community.
- Promoting your upcoming events.
- Recruiting volunteers for your initiatives.
If you’re looking for ideas about how other nonprofits have structured their websites to incorporate these priorities, check out Morweb’s list of the best nonprofit websites. These industry leading websites may inspire your creative side. Let’s get started to learn more about designing websites.
1. Provide information about your nonprofit’s mission.
When people visit your nonprofit’s website, it’s often because they’re looking for more information about your organization. They may have seen your name from your other marketing materials, on social media, or heard about your organization from a friend.
Make sure that when people come to visit your site, they’re able to quickly and easily learn about your mission and work in the community.
This means that your home page should have some element that explains what you do. Put your full mission statement either on your home page or on your “about us” page. If you put it on the “about us” page, you’ll also need a condensed version on your home page outlining the key points.
By providing this information up front, you’ll answer your new website visitors’ main questions. Then they’ll be able to dive in and learn more about your nonprofit.
If you use a CMS designed specifically for nonprofits, you can simply use the nonprofit website templates as a guide as to where to place the mission statement.
2. Collect donations from your supporters.
Not only do you want to capture the attention of your website visitors, but you’ll likely also have a goal in mind that you want them to complete. For many nonprofits, this goal is often to collect donations.
There are two main steps that nonprofits must take to encourage more donations from their supporters: first, they must ensure their donation page is top-notch; second, they must make sure their navigation makes it easy to find the page.
Top-Notch Donation Page
You’ll likely want to direct the majority of your supporters straight to the online donation page. Once they get there, they should find the donation page easy to use and pleasing to the eye.
The first step in creating this top-notch donation page is ensuring your CMS offers features allowing you to accept donations directly on your website. Don’t direct donors off-site to donate through a third-party platform, as the simple act of a new window opening is often enough to drive prospective donors away.
Next, brand your donation page consistently with the rest of your website. This visual consistency will build an element of trust for your donors.
Finally, make sure your donation page is mobile-responsive. More and more donors prefer to give from their smartphones or tablets rather than from a desktop computer. Make sure your CMS offers mobile-responsive templates so you can ensure your donation page looks just as great on mobile as it does on a desktop.
Make sure your website is designed in such a way that it leads your supporters straight to your donation opportunities.
Include a call-to-action right on the homepage of the website that leads to the donation page. This type of call-to-action usually takes the form of a button in the navigation menu of your homepage. Make sure to use a popping color and a direct phrase such as “Donate Now!” to draw attention to this button.
Many nonprofits offer multiple donation opportunities throughout their website. For instance, you may include the call-to-action in your donation button as well as an online store in your main navigation as another source of revenue.
Make sure no matter what type of fundraising initiatives your nonprofit is participating in, supporters can easily access the information they need to support your mission. If you’re looking for new strategies to raise money, check out Bonfire’s list of actionable fundraising ideas.
3. Encourage involvement from the community.
While collecting donations is one of the top priorities for nonprofits, it’s not the only goal you may have for your supporters. There are other engagement metrics you can strengthen by offering more opportunities for involvement through your nonprofit’s website.
For instance, your nonprofit should make it easy to get involved with advocacy campaigns and engage with your cause through social media.
When your nonprofit launches an advocacy campaign, you’ll set up targeted action pages for your supporters to interact with. These targeted action pages may lead your supporters to:
- Call their legislators on behalf of your mission.
- Tweet or email community leaders about your cause.
- Sign petitions to elevate the voice of your nonprofit supporters.
Create these targeted action pages and make them easy to find on your website. You may even choose to create an advocacy tab in the main navigation of your website with links to all of your targeted action pages.
Another opportunity for increased supporter engagement is with your social media accounts. Encourage your supporters to get involved via social media by:
- Embedding a live feed on your website.
- Adding social media icons in your website footer.
- Offering share buttons on blog posts to encouraging supporters to share with their followers.
Social media is a great way to get the word out about your nonprofit. Integrating your social media accounts with your website allows your supporters to interact with your cause through multiple channels.
4. Promote your upcoming events.
Include a page on your site that displays your nonprofit’s calendar of upcoming events. This calendar will encourage supporters to get involved in your nonprofit’s events. Plus, it provides a centralized location where people can find information about these events.
When you send out newsletters, targeted emails, and invitations, link back to this events page on your website.
Include all of the relevant information for each event, including the:
- Date and time
- Type of event
- Volunteer opportunities
- Sponsorship opportunities
- Registration or ticket purchasing
Whether you’re hosting a fundraiser, stewardship, or advocacy event, be sure you have all of the relevant information in a centralized location.
Make sure your events page is easy for your supporters to find. To maximize its visibility, link to it in the main navigation of your nonprofit’s website and add a featured events snippet to your homepage. This sets a precedent as your organization continues to grow. As people get more and more involved, they’ll know exactly where to look in the future for your event’s details.
Bonus! Click here if you’re looking for some unique a-thon fundraising event ideas. A-thons are a great way to get supporters involved while spreading your brand name to their network of family and friends.
5. Recruit volunteers for your initiatives.
One major myth about volunteers is that they donate their time because they are unable or unwilling to donate money. Actually, many volunteers donate money as well as time to the nonprofits they support.
Make it easy for volunteers to give their time or money from your website. Provide details to get involved with your organization. Create a page on your website with the details of all of your upcoming volunteer opportunities.
If you’re looking for volunteers to help out in the office with your full-time staff, make sure to provide the qualifications you’re looking for in a volunteer.
Or maybe you’re looking for volunteers to help out with your organization’s upcoming fundraising events. Don’t forget to link to your volunteer information from your events page!
No matter what type of volunteer opportunities your nonprofit offers, make sure you include an opportunity on your website for volunteers to register. Registration for volunteers helps your nonprofit plan events and projects depending on the amount of manpower you have access to.
Your website design leads your supporters to engagement opportunities with your organization. By designing your website with their user experience in mind, you will be able to boost engagement with your cause and better accomplish your nonprofit’s goals.
Murad Bushnaq, Founder and CEO of Morad Media and Morweb, is a man of many hats. Since its inception in 2004, Murad has acted as Creative Director, Technologist and creative problem-solver. He is dedicated to helping nonprofits and associations to grow their online presence with Morweb, a robust website platform and content management system.