The Elements of Great Nonprofit Websites (Includes Examples)
These days, there are lots of great nonprofit websites to behold. An easy-to-use and beautiful website is a must. And when you want to raise money online (which you should), you’ll definitely need a cyber-hub for website donations, discovery and support. Most likely you established a website far before even officially becoming a 501(c)3. What isn’t so obvious about building a website is what kind of website.
Take note: your website’s design can directly affect your online fundraising efforts. In countless studies, stat roundups, and tests, the results are clear – there is such a thing as web design that will be a barrier to generating conversions (the term conversion refers to a person who visits your site and then performs an action you’d hoped, like making a donation).
You want your website to be very straightforward, uncluttered and easy to navigate. We’ve compiled some attributes awesome nonprofit website design should have, followed by examples of each.
Clear donate button – You want people to donate to your nonprofit right? Of course! The donate button should be visible on every page of your site. Make it stand out by using a color that contrasts to the rest of your page.
Examples of great nonprofit website design – the donate button
The Great Nonprofit Website #2-4: Problem, Solution, Impact
The problem you’re solving, how you’re solving it and why it matters for the site visitor to be involved. The stream of consciousness to scrolling down the page of your website goes something like this: awareness of a problem, awareness of a solution, motivation to become part of the solution. Now, we’ll take a look at how two organizations approach this sequence.
Examples of great nonprofit website design – the problem
The immediate impact of your organization – As we discussed above, you should follow up the “problem” with your organization’s explicit solution to that problem. Prove the efficacy of your solution by demonstrating impact through eye-catching graphics, stats and stories. Let’s take a look at how buildOn and Embrace follow the “problem” section of their homepage.
Examples of great nonprofit website design – the solution
Examples of great nonprofit website design – impact
Notice how buildOn uses some stats to demonstrate impact, while Embrace uses a video and personal constituent’s story.
And a bonus example that I really like from Generosity.org
The Great Nonprofit Website #5 – The Blog
A blog – blogging is a great way to keep people informed what you’re accomplishing in the field. Transparency is increasingly important to donors, and writing about your organization regularly is perfect for demonstrating impact, engaging supporters and sharing the work you’re doing with people new to your organization.
Not sure what to blog about? No problem! Here are some nonprofit blogging ideas for you:
• Letters from staff, volunteers or constituents in the field
• Photo essays from events or fieldwork
• Fact roundups on your specific cause or cause-sector
• News updates specific to your cause-sector or the region you’re working in
• Impact stories
• Behind-the-scenes videos or write-ups about your work – I love this post on Possible’s blog about how they manage projects in rural Nepal.
• Announce partnerships or matching periods
• Celebrate milestones and supporters
The Great Nonprofit Website #6 – The Subscription Box
A newsletter to subscribe to – this attribute is related to the blog in the sense that newsletters increase transparency, deepen engagement and keep people up-to-date with how their support is directly impacting your cause.
Encourage supporters to subscribe to your newsletter by including a clear call to action on your homepage. “Join us” seems to be a popular call-to-action.
Examples of great nonprofit website design – the subscription box
A Gift for Teaching
Make sure to set up a “thank you for subscribing e-mail” through your e-mail marketing software (a great service to try out is MailChimp). This follow up email can be one of the most important messages you send to supporters. Whether they’re new to your organization or not, demonstrating that you’re grateful they want to stay in the loop about your organization is a very simple, but meaningful, way to appreciate supporters. Here’s a lovely example from Invisible Children:
The Great Nonprofit Website bonus Tip: The Microsite
Apply the same principles we learned for your main website for your specific campaign microsites. For a campaign, make sure you add your campaign’s goal and campaign’s progress.
Here is an incredible example from Pencils of Promise’s brand new year-end campaign microsite, frame by frame. This is, hands down, one of the best campaign sites I’ve ever seen. Not only is it very straightforward and easy to navigate, it’s exceptionally compelling by carrying a storyline from start to finish. (For a more fluid experience, visit the campaign site live, here.) Also, when you’re on the live page, note how the campaign progress bar and donate button follows you down the page.
1. Donate / Campaign Goal / Campaign Progress
2. Campaign Progress
3. Explicit Problem – p.s. I love the “I want to change this” call-to-action immediately after the problem, for those potential supporters who are very eager to make a difference.
4. Explicit Solution
5. Motivation to Act
6. Explicit Impact
7. Subscribe! Note that in this case there is no blog or “updates” section. I’ll let this pass, since it’s a campaign page and not a website that represents the organization as a whole.
Ok, let’s review
Great nonprofit web design includes:
A great nonprofit website doesn’t have to cost a million dollars, it just has to be straightforward and easy to navigate. The easier you make it for visitors to understand your mission, impact, and find what they’re looking for, the better engagement you’ll receive!
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