3 Must-Haves for Best Nonprofit Websites
A nonprofit website is the home of a cause. While your operations might be small or they might spread far and wide in the physical world, most of your community will interact with your nonprofit group primarily through your website. Like any modern organization, your website serves as your digital headquarters. When a new donor wants to know if you’re the right kind of organization to give to, they’ll check out your website. When community members in need of your special services want to reach out, your website is where they will go first.
In the modern world, visiting a brand’s website comes before picking up the phone, getting in the car, or making a single decision. So your nonprofit website design is one of the most important assets in your toolbox for connecting with donors, volunteers, and the communities you support. To this end, there are three essential traits that every nonprofit website must have.
3 Must-Haves for Every Nonprofit Website
Traffic & Discoverability
Conversion Optimized Design
Without these three things, your website will fall short of your goals to reach the most people and put together the most support possible. So let’s dive into what it takes for your nonprofit website to achieve these three goals, one at a time.
1) Get Your Nonprofit Website Discovered
First, let’s talk about discoverability. Your nonprofit is only as effective as your reach, both in terms of reaching donors and volunteers and the communities you can connect with to provide services. Every nonprofit website should be aiming for maximum reach, as donors and even volunteers can come from anywhere in the world. To do that, you will need to play the search engine ranking game being played by every other company and organization on the internet: SEO, content marketing, and website performance. Once you achieve reach, building a steady flow of on-site traffic will strengthen your relevance and page ranking for greater per-search visibility.
SEO, SEM, and Technical SEO Visibility
Your SEO strategy relies on keyword targeting which determines when your website will appear as an option for search terms. The more relevant search terms you appear in, the greater your reach. However, SEO (search engine optimization) also goes much further than this. SEM (search engine marketing) and technical SEO are a comprehensive, top-to-bottom strategy built on making Google promote your website above others using a similar keyword structure.
Content Marketing and Community Building
Content marketing is how you can turn organic, information-rich pages on your website into a source of online outreach. Your blog, service pages, success stories, testimonials, event pages, and so much more can all become sources of uplifting content marketing. The goal is to create content that your future donors/volunteers/community members will search for, be intrigued by, and follow to the website to engage further.
Website Performance and Accessibility
The performance of your website serves a two-fold purpose. First, fast and high-performing websites with great mobile-responsive design are prioritized in search results – so that’s your visibility. But great performance also makes your website more accessible, broadening your reach and making it possible for a wider range of people to engage with your nonprofit.
Give Your Traffic a Reason to Hum
Lastly, give your website a reason to generate constant positive traffic. Create a community where people meet and chat. Provide useful calculators and tools that draw everyday traffic. Publish a depth of blog posts and interesting stories that keep readers clicking. The more traffic on your website, the stronger your appearance will be in search engine results.
2) Create Guided Conversion Paths
The second must-have of a nonprofit website is conversion. Without conversion, visitors are just visitors. You want to help your donors and volunteers to feel inspired and involved, while minimizing friction between arrival and decision-making. Optimizing for conversion typically involves hand-crafting conversion paths that create a natural flow from one point to the next on the decision-making process for people who want to get involved – and for those who need to sign up for assistance.
Choose a Core Call to Action
First, choose a core call-to-action. While your visitors may naturally split between donors and volunteers, it can help to have a single ringing point on your front page that guides brand-new community members toward your most preferred path. Maybe that’s making a small but meaningful donation, signing up for the newsletter, signing up for a small part in a weekend volunteer group, or buying a ticket to a seasonal event. Pick just one thing and put it front-and-center. Then craft a conversion path with just a few button clicks and immersive media that makes following this path both rewarding and easy.
The Donor Path and Volunteer Path
Many of your online visitors will arrive already knowing that they prefer to donate or looking for a volunteer experience. Make it easy for them. Create simple and uplifting paths that help guide each of these types of visitors down a quick and easy decision-making path.
One classic design choice is to include ‘Donate’ and ‘Volunteer’ in your top navigation bar, each with a landing page that then splits the options into 2-3 easy-to-choose options like donation tiers or upcoming volunteer events.
Guide In New Community Members
What about people who want to join the nonprofit community by signing up or registering people they know who need assistance? Make sure they have a smooth conversion path, as well. Of course, how you welcome these new community members including the language and imagery you choose will depend on the unique mission of your nonprofit and the group you have built.
Test Each Conversion Path and Track Your Stats
Don’t just build conversion paths, test them often and send friends down each path to ensure that they are as smooth and welcoming as possible. The last thing you want is to lose donations to a misplaced button or a faulty payment page.
Create New Content for Each Conversion Path
It’s also worth remembering that each new piece of inbound marketing content can take a place on your conversion funnel. Top-of-funnel volunteer content, for example, might be “What can I do” articles, whle mid-tier might be personal stories of wonderful volunteer experiences. Donor-related content might be stories about what is achieved with even a small donation, while community funnel content might include personal success stories of people uplifted by your nonprofit.
3) Save Time at Every Stage
The last piece of the puzzle is time-saving. People do their philanthropic work through nonprofits because it’s easier than going out there solo. If you want your nonprofit to thrive as a favorite nexus for people who truly care to make a difference with whatever time or funds they have to spare – make it easy for them. Design and audit your nonprofit website to ensure that it helps your people save time making that difference every step of the way.
Simple, Intuitive Navigation
First, make navigation easy. Keep your menus simple and compartmentalize any deep wells of content or features. Have a lot of blogs? Organize them into an information center with a navigable archive. Have a lot of features? Turn them into a user portal instead of muddling your primary interactive pages. Then use a site map and breadcrumbs to make sure everyone knows how to get where they want to go or have been before.
Make Your Website Easy to Use
Ensure every feature is simple. Test in abundance to provide ease-of-use, including easily toggleable handicap features like high-contrast or text-to-speech. Keep your buttons big and mobile-touch-friendly. Keep your menus simple, your features quick, and your community transparent.
Make Signing Up Lightning Fast
If there’s a sign-up, make it easy. Use Google/Facebook/Apple logins for one-click signups and easy account creation. Don’t redirect, keep everything on-site and highly welcoming.
Make Donation Easy and Rewarding
When a donor wants to donate, make it as smooth and fast as possible. Provide one-click amounts, remember preferred modes of payment, and incorporate things like PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp to welcome a younger generation of one-click donors as well.
Smoothly Guide Volunteers Into Onboarding
As for volunteers, get them scheduled and onboarding before they can think twice about the amazing weekend they are about to become a part of. Use an embedded scheduling app to make it easy for them to book a time and event. Immediately share a prep list of what to wear, bring, and know before the event, and show pictures of awesome similar events that happened recently.
Remember and Welcome Back Returning Members
Lastly, make use of loyalty program designs. Remember everyone who’s worked with you before, from past donors and volunteers to past community organizers. Let them log in, greet them by name, remember their preferences, and make repeating their previous action a one-click experience. This will make return-donors and volunteers feel special and act to speed the process of donating or volunteering again.
Nonprofit Website Design is Paramount
Your nonprofit website is at the core of your connection to the community – whether attracting new donors and volunteers or coordinating your next event with your most dedicated teams. With discoverability, conversions, and time-saving, we can help your organization’s website achieves new heights in building your nonprofit community. Please reach out to us today for expert nonprofit website design services tailored to your unique organization and community needs.