May 7, 2015
Every nonprofit knows the necessity of an online presence: A website provides a platform for community engagement, fundraising efforts and volunteer outreach.
The ability to accept online donations simplifies work for both the benefactor and the organization; volunteers don't need to make as many cold calls, and supporters can decide when and how to give on their own time.
But it can become a little too easy for a nonprofit to expect that a simple website is enough to bring in the donations, The Non Profit Times explained. The Internet's sea of near-endless pages creates a new challenge for charities: making sure that prospective supporters can not only find their organization online, but can effectively connect with its mission, too.
This is where the care and maintenance of a website comes into play. A well-constructed landing page will capture reader interest, and an accessible design will keep the audience coming back. The following suggestions will help you connect with your online community of supporters.
Keep a clean space
Approach your design with a sense of tidiness. It's tempting to publish every bit of information you have, but readers don't have the time for every article or news bite. If you clutter each page with too many words and images, you'll obscure the most important content and overwhelm your audience.
More importantly, you shouldn't only have text on your website. Include images of the people, animals, or communities that you help. Post videos of your staff members working on a project.
Instead of simply scrolling through tons of text, your supporters can see your nonprofit in action!
Clarity is key
Your vision for a better future should be front and center on your landing page. Make sure your charitable mission is clear. If your audience has difficulty deciphering your goals, they'll have no reason to continue navigating your page.
Include your mission or vision statement somewhere on the homepage. If it's short and sweet, you can put it front and center, but if it's a bit longer, you might decide to put it somewhere where it won't be too distracting.
The sooner that visitors know what your nonprofit is all about, the sooner you can convert them into donors and supporters of your cause.
Optimize your navigation
Your navigation is like the blueprint for your website. It's the structure used to organize your content and make it easy for donors to find the information they need.
Donors are more likely to stay on your website—and potentially make a donation—when they can find the information they want.
However, your navigation doesn't have to feature all your content. Place only the most relevant information in your navigation so that donors aren't overwhelmed with too much content.
Additionally, keep your navigation copy short, and if you do have a lot of content you want to highlight in your navigation, use dropdown menus to organize your information.
With a clear, organized navigation bar, donors can find the information they want, putting them one step closer to donating.
Break the old rules
The prolific use of mobile and touch screens mean scrolling is no longer the enemy of the website viewers, said npENGAGE.
In fact, it's now a good strategy to lengthen your landing page, because it keeps audiences reading continuously, instead of breaking up their attention every time a new page loads.
Taking advantage of vertical space also allows you to place donation widgets on the menu bar. These stand out more than simple donate buttons. A linear format also combats clutter, making it easier for visitors to digest information.
Have a voice
You want your website to be distinct from those of other nonprofits. Let yourself shine through, whether it be through:
- The tone of your news pieces,
- The pictures you choose to showcase,
- Or the stories you have to tell.
The more you can develop a voice for your cause, the easier you can convey a natural sense of urgency toward supporting your mission.
Make it easy
Readability is not limited to the quality of your content. An audience will lose patience with text that isn't kind to the eyes, said Lady Nonprofit. Your choice of font matters more than you may think.
Fancy curlicues and intricate script aren't suited for your purpose. They require more reading work than simple fonts, and there's no reason to prioritize elegance over your charitable message.
Add "Donate" buttons
Your website's goal is to get interested supporters to donate, and that can be difficult if they can't find your donation form. In other words: when donors have to spend time searching for your online donation form, they're likely to give up and not contribute.
As such, it's imperative that you include an eye-catching donation button and place it in multiple, prominent locations. You should always have a donation button:
- In your website's navigation (including the sidebar navigation if you have one).
- On your donation page.
- At the end of your blog posts.
- On your homepage.
The language you use on your donation button is also important. You should make the copy clear and concise, but also unique to your organization.
For example, instead of using the typical "Donate Now," use something that more accurately describes your nonprofit. You could say, "Help us protect local wildlife" if you're an environmental organization.
Do your homework
Keeping tabs on click rates will indicate whether your design is effective or needs some tweaking. Analyzing your online traffic is only one step in maintaining your website.
If you don't want your supporter engagement to stagnate, you need to keep your website dynamic, noted Fundraising IP. Don't neglect blog and news updates.
Archaic content drives away visitors, and buries your page deep into the archives of search engines. Even if readers find your website, they won't be interested in reading an outdated narrative. The key to engagement is to keep the conversation going.