Tips for building an effective nonprofit website

The practice of providing online donation services is immensely popular among nonprofits. Some, however, are still severely ignoring the benefits of a website strategically designed to establish a charity's brand and connect with existing and potential donors.

A successful website will include a several details tailored to engage visitors on multiple levels. Techie nonprofit TechSoup recently published a series of suggestions for other charitable foundations to help them revamp their websites, re​-energize existing donors and attract new ones.

Homepages are about simplicity
For many, an organization's homepage will be the first interaction the prospective donor has with the nonprofit. A busy page, cluttered with verbose text and indirectly related links and banners, can drive away droves of potential contributors. What's more, a homepage saturated with unnecessary clutter - especially any elements requiring flash animation - can lead to incredibly long load times, which can dissuade visitors.

To construct the perfect homepage, keep it simple. If there are links on the opening page, make sure to keep their purpose clear and concise. Make navigating the page intuitive. It should be easy for visitors to find answers to any questions they might have about the organization. Additionally, be sure to include essential contact information on very page.

Establish a brand
When a prospective donor leaves a website, they should go away with a memory of the site and, more importantly, an understanding of the organization and what their mission is. Creating a logo, one that reinforces the nonprofit's intent, can help foster the emotional experience charities strive to create between themselves and their donors.

Considering the importance of establishing an immediately recognizable brand, organizations should be sure to include the creation of a logo among their top priorities. Once designed and finalized, nonprofit consulting firm Fundraising 123 suggests the logo appear at the top of every page of a charity's website, including the homepage.

Multimedia is essential
Creating an emotional connection with prospective donors can be one of the most influential factors in determining who's giving and how much. By introducing multimedia to a website, including still photographs and videos, organizations can both tell their story and provide visual insight into how their money is being spent.

Inclusion of multimedia should be done with consideration to aesthetics, but more so to the story being told. When using photographs, nonprofits should be extra careful to avoid including any stock pictures that might be used elsewhere. Keep things genuine. Even if an organization doesn't have access to professional equipment, use more affordable and available means, such as a hand-held camera. Authenticity is the most important aspect of telling a charity's story.

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