Top 5 Things the Best Nonprofit Websites Have in Common
1. A clear vision
No one should be confused when coming to your website. Make sure that a statement of your vision—what you do and why—is prominently displayed. People will come to your site to learn more about your organization and your vision for your organization. Also, explaining the problems you’ve set out to solve is essential because it’s a primary bit of information that those people will want to know.
Your vision should tell readers what you do, why you do it and motivate them to get involved as well. What problem(s) are you trying to solve? What drives you to keep working? Write from the heart about the purpose and mission of your organization—then make it prominent or easy-to-find on your website.
2. Compelling stories
While a statement of your vision is necessary and informative, stories can often help you better illustrate what your organization does and how you help people. Drawing people in with stories that appeal to their emotions can captivate your website visitors, help them remember you, and even motivate them to take action. Plus, real-world examples of how you’re helping solve a problem in the world will help you to look more legitimate to the outsider—even the small victories.
If you are a newer organization and don’t have amazing victories yet or if stories about your work are difficult to tell compellingly, don’t worry! Tell a story about one of your volunteers instead or the head of your organization or how you got started doing what you do. Or tell a story about a problem you’re trying to solve—it doesn’t need to have a happy ending if you’re trying to motivate readers. Be real and share a story about why you do what you do.
3. Big, bold calls to action
Your website design should make it as easy as possible for visitors to do what you want them to do—like donate, volunteer, and sign up. There are a few ways you can emphasize these things in your design and throughout the site; for example, make the donate and volunteer buttons big and bold, and put them in multiple places on multiple pages of your website. Make it easy to navigate to the key actions you want your website visitors to take, and make those actions as simple as you can, with as few steps as possible. If it takes time to find out how to get involved or if the process is really long, you’ll lose potential donors, volunteers, and supporters.
4. Up-to-date and responsive design
Responsive design is a must for any website these days—if your site doesn’t work on mobile, you’ll lose a big, and growing, part of your website visitors, including some who may otherwise donate, volunteer, or sign up! It’s imperative that you make sure your website works on any device.
Your look, function, and technology all need to be up to date—otherwise, you won’t look legitimate and eager volunteers, and donors will be hesitant to give you their money and/or information.
5. Contribution disclaimer and transparency
Any nonprofit website needs to have a donate button—and if you’re going to have people donate online, you need to make sure you display everything you legally need to about donations, including contribution rules, donation limits, etc. The laws about what you need to say on your website regarding donations differ depending on your state and nonprofit.
We suggest you make sure you have everything you need in terms of legal information, disclaimers, security and more. Let potential donors know if their gifts are tax-deductible and precisely what a contribution will do. If you don’t have the information displayed or it’s hidden or hard to find, that will raise a red flag to potential supporters.
The best nonprofits not only utilize these 5 specific things within their websites, but they put a lot of focus into their entire online presence and the digital marketing world in general. With technology at the forefront of today’s industries, it’s imperative that businesses create a strong digital presence. The necessity of an online presence isn’t just to build and maintain a website, but also to promote what your business does and the kind of people that exist behind the screen. In addition, the digital face of your nonprofit should be interactive and allow for participation with a broad reach of people so it can spread brand awareness to gain fans, followers, volunteers, and benefactors. Here’s how to create the ultimate nonprofit online presence:
Define Your Audience and Their Needs
As with any strategic planning, you want to be sure that you are targeting the correct audience. Most nonprofits must utilize all the publicity they can get to garner attention for their cause. Targeting the right audience and honing in on their needs will make for a much more successful online presence.
Plan Your Website to Serve Your Audience
As we’ve already mentioned, fundraising is the core of most nonprofits, so featuring places on your site for people to donate to your organization is crucial. Try to keep your donors and supporters no further than one click away from donating. If you make it too difficult of a process, people aren’t going to commit. The first priority of your website is to cater to your audience, followed by communicating your message in a clear way. Hiring a professional web designer to organize and create a one-of-a-kind website can boost the look of your organization and flood it with viewers. Show your donors and sponsors what you have been able to accomplish with the money they have donated. Demonstrate the changes you have been able to implement and the success you’ve achieved as an organization.
Create a Social Media Strategy
Utilize imagery to draw in supporters and tell the story of your mission. When used correctly, images and stories will have a much stronger impact than any mission statement when encouraging people to donate and join your organization. Include social sharing links on every page of your website. If you can encourage photo sharing and make it easier for bloggers and social network users to share images and information from your organization, it is likely that it will attract new traffic and build a community around your cause. Interact with your audience and show them that you are passionate about what your organization is trying to achieve.
In addition to creating strategies for managing your website and social accounts, you want to be sure that you are continually posting new content to both. Remaining relevant in a world where information is gobbled up at lightning speed is difficult, but it is necessary when trying to get as much attention for your cause as possible. Create a plan to maintain your website and social media accounts with new content, images, and testimonials. It will keep your entire digital presence fresh and unique.
Start with Your Message and Make It Clear
Whatever your nonprofit’s focus is, be sure it is known as soon as the audience clicks onto your website. The average user stays less than a minute on any given web page, so you want to be sure that you hold their attention for longer. You can include imagery and testimonials that showcase specifics of what your nonprofit does. The goal isn’t to beat people over the head with your mission, but just to make sure your organization’s brand and identity are clear for people who may be coming to your site for the first time.
Make Content Engaging
Users are in a hurry to gather information and make choices based on those few seconds of reading. Making your content appealing and interesting will hold their attention longer and hopefully cause them to look around your site. You want people to be thinking about your content, and ultimately you want to give them a reason to come back. Utilize both photos and videos — anything that helps get your story across in the most interesting and engaging way.
We’ve given you several tips for things you must have as part of your nonprofit website and a few ideas for creating a strong online presence. Now it’s time to really look at your current marketing plans and website to determine if what you’re doing is actually working. You want to see a return on your marketing investment, but in order to do that, you have to be very strategic about the steps you take and the ways you present your nonprofit on all digital platforms.
As a nonprofit organization, you probably spend a lot of time promoting your causes to potential donors. If that’s the case then it’s essential for you to have a robust online marketing strategy that builds awareness while igniting passion throughout the internet and beyond.
Is your nonprofit marketing strategy really working? If you’re not sure, here are some ways to check the pulse on your current action plan:
- Offer online surveys of about five questions to get some feedback from the public.
Set up and analyze website and social media data through Google Analytics. This is an excellent indicator of what is and what isn’t working in your campaigns.
- Keep track of all incoming phone calls, social media interactions, and emails to see where people are coming from.
- Feel free to ask donors and volunteers how they heard about your nonprofit and what led them to take action. If you’ve discovered disappointing numbers and candid feedback, don’t be discouraged. You’ve now come across an excellent opportunity to get rid of everything that isn’t working so you can start making moves. And remember, you aren’t alone. Nonprofits usually make the same mistakes when it comes to their online strategies.
Here are some marketing mistakes to watch out for:
It might seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many nonprofits don’t have a positioning statement (not to be confused with a mission statement). This is that critical quick elevator speech that showcases who you are, what you do, and why people should care.
- Social Media Not Used Properly
A lot of nonprofit organizations use social media platforms to talk about themselves all the time. No offense, but your organization is more interesting to you than it is to others. Use it correctly by actually being social. Execute the rule of thirds: one-third of your posts should promote the nonprofit, one-third of the posts should share thought leadership and ideas, and one-third should show how much fun you guys are.
- Not Investing in Good Design
First impressions matter. This is especially true when introducing your organization’s face to the internet. A lot of nonprofits skimp on good web design, which leaves their online presence looking unprofessional, drabby, and ill-equipped to change the world. Hire a professional ASAP. Your website needs to be a real winner because donors like to support winners!
- Not Using Video.
Did you know that landing pages with videos can increase conversions by 80% or more? How about that the average user spends 88% more time on these pages? So what’s the hold-up? The budget shouldn’t be an issue because today’s smartphones can create high-quality footage with handy editing capabilities. These videos don’t need to be Spielberg quality—they need to educate, engage, and entertain your audience!
So now that you’re aware of some common nonprofit marketing mistakes, here are some tips to get you back on track.
What you can do now:
- Identify a Brand-Positioning Statement.
This showcases your value to the targeted audience. It needs to be unique, specific, and simple so your nonprofit can stand out against the sea of other nonprofits vying for donations. Make it so captivating that people won’t forget it.
- Be a Storyteller.
It’s no surprise that people love stories. Share your company’s and founder’s stories on your website along with customer testimonials. Make it relatable and visually appealing by pairing each with videos and photos.
- Create Awesome Content.
Find out what gets your audience excited and inspired, then tailor your content strategy to meet these needs. For instance, if they like snackable infographics or how-to posts, then that’s what they shall receive.
- Clickable Headlines and CTAs.
Learn how to write compelling copy that converts leads. Distill your brand tone and keep it consistent across all messaging while following best practices.
If your nonprofit online marketing strategy isn’t working for you, it’s time to buckle down and make some changes. After all, your organization needs a fantastic online presence to reach even more potential donors and volunteers.
Since we’ve discussed some of the best things nonprofits can do for their websites, you should now understand how important marketing in the digital age is for any business, especially a nonprofit. These days, most nonprofits are turning to digital marketing as an integral part of how they gain donors, and if they’re not, they should be. A well-strategized digital marketing campaign or Facebook advertising strategy can aid nonprofits and drive donors to either help with marketing or donate funds to the cause. It’s all about engagement and bringing attention to your cause. So let’s discuss 5 tips for nonprofit marketing in the digital age…
Emotionally charged photos or video
As we mentioned, storytelling is a crucial part of getting a nonprofit’s message across and it’s one of the top 5 things the best nonprofit websites have in common. You want your story to be powerful and potentially haunting if you want to make an impact on the community. Providing sections of photos and videos describing and showcasing the reasoning behind your nonprofit is a serious marketing tool that should be utilized.
Empower your readers and potential donors to feel like they need to be a part of your organization. If they feel as though they can help in some way it will make a difference. In addition to showing the main cause behind your organization, show the life-changing stories that have come out of your organization. Don’t be afraid to play up the successes and inspire others to get involved and continue to do something good in the world.
Search-engine optimization (SEO)
Search engines are some of the most widely used websites on the internet today. Optimizing your website for varying search engines for main keyword phrases can significantly impact the traffic coming to your nonprofit website.
Ensure that all content is maximized for SEO optimization with keywords filling the web pages. The higher your nonprofit website is on search engines, the more traffic you will get to your site.
Some of the most important information on your nonprofit website will be the content you provide. So instead of the wording being stark and impersonal, flood it with feeling. Donors want to know you care about your nonprofit—and more importantly the cause that you are trying to support.
Include any statistics that you can provide as well as the types of changes you have been able to make through donations to the cause. Allow people to know what can be done if they provide a donation and ultimately what the goal of the nonprofit is through the gathering of donations.
Use of digital wallets
Digital wallets are a wonderful new tool that is supported on Apple and Android devices. It allows people to make instant purchases on their mobile devices. With this technology, any donor on their mobile device could make a quick donation without having to get out a credit card and go through the motions of filling out all the information.
Having the ability to let donors use a digital wallet while perusing your nonprofit website on their phone could lead to higher rates of donations. It’s simple and easy, meaning people might be more likely to do it because all it takes is one click, and then the donation is complete. This won’t work on all platforms of your website, but certainly is a great way to make a mobile platform effective.
With so many different charities and nonprofits vying for our attention, it’s important that you show readers and donors what exactly they are subscribing to. Demonstrate to donors and people simply visiting your digital presence that donations are an integral part of keeping your nonprofit alive.
Donors and the surrounding community won’t know the position of your company unless you are honest. Are you close to reaching any fundraising goals? What is the money going toward? How much money has been raised so far? And also how have previous donations made a difference when it comes to your nonprofit’s specific cause? Being open with donors could ultimately win you more points with people and get them to donate, even if it’s a small amount.
In terms of donations, tell donors that no matter how much they can or can’t give isn’t the main objective. The objective is to raise money for the cause. If someone can only provide a single dollar, it’s still something. You don’t want to make people feel guilty that they can’t afford your minimum donation. Allow the donors to choose how much they would prefer to donate, so they have more control over that decision and feel good about what they can offer.
Creating a nonprofit website and marketing strategy that will attract visitors, volunteers and donors is crucial to the success of any nonprofit. Make sure you have all the necessary things throughout your website and all digital platforms, like social media, in order to really connect with the people that will make your business better.
If you have any questions about building a nonprofit website or would like to speak to someone about creating a marketing strategy, please contact our team today.