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Anatomy of a great nonprofit website

Anatomy of a great nonprofit website

You have solidified a rockstar fundraising team and all the key players are in place to build up your nonprofit’s financial needs but what about the tools that you’ll use to support those needs?

Enter your website.

Your website acts as the face of your organization just as much as the people in it. It is an “always on” resource that provides your donors with a sense of whether or not they will trust in you enough to make a donation. It can build trust and credibility just as easily as it can deter donors from acting.

The basics: What to include on a nonprofit website

Quite simply, your website should be easy to navigate and provide the information your donors are looking for. In short, your nonprofit website should answer the following:

  • What do you do? Show them how you are making a difference or solving problems in the community and beyond.
  • What is your impact? Tell them how, specifically, you will use their money.
  • How can donors give? Make it easy for them to navigate your online donation process with ease.

These questions may seem basic at face value but many times there are larger discussions that need to happen before you can make those key points a reality online. Start with the following:

1. Define the problem

What is the issue your nonprofit it trying to solve? Why is that important to the community and those around you? Talk in terms that will resonate with outside audiences; think of it as a truly external piece of communication.

2. What do you do to solve this problem?

What programs do you have in place to combat the problem(s) above? Again, give specific details so that your donors get a true sense of who you are and what you do. A mission statement that tells them “we provide educational opportunities for underserved communities” is great, but how do you do that?

3. Showcase your impact

Don’t be afraid to sell yourself! Showcase your organization’s success. What is your value proposition? Why should donors be inspired to give? How do their dollars get used? Think about stories of those that are affected by what your organization is doing. Numbers are great, but showcasing your organization in a way that comes from those impacted is an even strong way to connect.

4. Be specific on how to give

In a time of expectations for instant gratification, you want to make easy for your donors to give. As soon as they have connected with you and make a decision to donate, they should be able to look anywhere on the page they are viewing and see an option for giving.

Ideas for building this out:

  • Donate button on every page of your website
  • Specific “ways to give” page to showcase options for giving annual, monthly, etc.
  • Specific text throughout other pages on your site that link back to your online giving page(s)

What if giving isn’t in the cards right now? Not a problem. It’s just as important to cultivate a community around your cause—through activism, volunteer opportunities or other involvement. Be sure your “other ways to get involved” area of your site is easy to find as well. That goes for your email sign-up as well; this is another one that is easy to put on each page (footer, headers, contact area, etc.)

5. Build trust through your ‘about us’ section

Many times, your donors will look to others within your organization for guidance, insight or to get a sense of the organization’s personality and credibility. Do not be afraid to highlight those on your team—those personal connections are important as well!

Ideas include:

  • Use real pictures of leadership, volunteers and committee members
  • Gather stories about why those in your organization enjoy the work they do
  • Provide personal contact information when possible (vs. “info@” or generic phone numbers)
  • Provide links to partners, sponsors and other resources in your network

Example of a website doing it right

Anti-Slavery International is a charity from Great Britain that does a great job of utilizing its website in a way that answers the key questions above. This organization provides a background on the issue and how it’s tackling the problem. There is a specific “our impact” section on the nonprofit’s website that provides information on what it does, providing visual stats and also “stories of freedom” from those that have been impacted by the organization’s services. It is also very easy to see, on every page, how to give via the red donate button at the top of the site. The site also adds CTAs (calls to action) through the text on other pages prompting readers to “make an impact” by donating to the organization.

Anti-Slavery International
Anti-Slavery International (antislavery.org)

Think about the websites that your frequent or the organizations that you donate to online—what is it about those websites that prompt you to give? Is it the way information is presented? The stories they tell? Can you easily have your questions answered and figure out how to navigate around the site in a way that is helpful and makes you feel good about where your money is going? These are all things to consider when fine-tuning your nonprofit’s website.

Audit your website

Even if you have a brand-new website, scheduling regular audits for your site, even at a small scale, can be helpful throughout the year. How does your site measure up? Are you able to answer the basic questions as listed above? What feedback have you gotten from donors or others who visit your site?

Share this information with your team and assess your sites content, traffic and functionality on a regular basis as a way to keep tabs on your success.

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