March 9, 2017

5 Essentials of Creating a Non-Profit Website

laptop user featuring John templeton Foundation website

For all the hard work your non-profit organization does, you may have one key member not pulling their weight. Your website. How hard is your non-profit website working for your cause?

Your website is on the front line of sharing your organization’s mission. It’s the first place people will go to find more information about you, if not how they discover you in the first place. So it needs to communicate your message quickly and clearly .

The key to a creating a successful non-profit website starts with ensuring your site answers these five questions:

  • What is your cause?
  • Why is it important?
  • Where are the funds going to?
  • Who is leading the fight?
  • How can you get involved?

You may already have answered these questions in brochures, presentations, and other communications, but what is the best way to answer them on a website?

Website Design for Non-Profit in Philadelphia, non-profit website

The What: Defining Your Mission

This, of course, is the first and most important question to answer — What is your mission? The answer to this is the most important information for a person to get from your website, so it should reside on the most visible page on your site: the homepage.

Your homepage must clearly and easily convey what cause your organization supports, your vision for the future, and the steps you’re taking to get there. This is not only essential to gaining prospective supporters but for also for attracting your target audience through SEO. If your page doesn’t clearly state the causes your organization supports, those searching to get involved in, say, an NPO for breast cancer research will not be able to find your website.

The Why: What Makes You Matter

According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are more than 1.5 million registered nonprofit organizations in the U.S. While all of these causes are important, some may hold greater importance to an individual who feels personally connected to the cause. This is why it’s crucial to convey why your particular cause is important.

This comes down to having effective content on your website. Your content needs to connect the user to the impact they can have through your organization. Use tactics like infographics, video and testimonials to avoid overloading people with content to read. Stress the urgency of your cause and create an emotional connection with potential supporters.

The Where: Track Your Impact 

Giving your money to charity is honorable, but not required. Folks generous enough to donate their hard earned money want to make sure that their contributions are going to the right places. The ‘where’ should be treated almost as an extension of your mission statement — explaining what your organization does in order to solve the problems it’s confronting. This includes sharing  geographic locations, different third-party organizations, as well as the actual recipients of the donation. But you don’t want to over-commodify human impact and turn your website into a place to dump statistics. Make sure you’re showing the emotional side of your impact as well as the practical.

The Who: Faces Behind the Work

People also want to make sure they trust the organization they’re giving money to or working with. Focusing on the Where is a great start for establishing that trust, but injecting personality is a great next step. Highlighting some key team members through content features, or even a team bios page is an awesome way to highlight your people and the work they do. Give each member a bio detailing what they do, where they’re from, and how they got involved. In addition, keeping a regular blog of events, thought leadership articles, and more also helps potential supporters see where their donation will go to and humanizes your team bio page by giving members a voice.

The How: Next Steps for Visitors 

The last question is just as important as the first, since it’s critical to the growth of your organization. How can people get involved?

Once a potential supporter knows the answers to the first four questions, they may want to join your efforts. Your website has to offer them a way to get involved!

Enter the Call-To-Action. Donate links, forms, contact links, and event calendars are all popular types of CTA and great ways to grow your community of supporters. These website features are also great resources for existing supporters to boost their own participation, and recruit their peers to join!

Ultimately, your non-profit website serves as the platform for your cause in the digital world. It is the megaphone you use at a rally, the clipboard you use to sign-up new recruits on sidewalks, and the posters you hang on telephone polls. It is the full embodiment of your team, your efforts, and the fight for your cause. Every day you and your team work hard to gain support for your cause. Make sure the team member in the background, your website, is working hard too!