What should a non profit website include?

Non profit websites should not be looked at differently than other websites when designing. The approach should follow the same best practices of any other successful web design strategy. Fundamentally sound websites focus on user experience, intuitive navigation and narrative. They create a custom web experience for the business or organization they represent. But with non profit websites, there are additional elements necessary in order to achieve measurable success. A successful non profit website is an extension of the organization; it must be aligned with the purpose and objectives of the organization. To help assist our non profit web design audience, here are some important best practices to follow.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #1.

Focus on donors.

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Every non profit organization depends on donations. It is the life blood of revenue that keeps the organization running and in achieving its purpose. A non profit’s website is an ideal platform for donors. It provides them with a simple tool to make financial contributions, become sponsors, get active, or stay up-to-date with the organization’s happenings. Additionally, the website makes it easy for donors to become regular contributors.

It is imperative that a non profit design is donor-friendly.  The site should make the opportunity for donations easily accessible and simple. The donation page should be omnipresent, highly visible and displayed on every page. The donation process should be painfully easy and something donors can complete in a matter of seconds and without further obligations, such as requiring them to create an account prior to making a donation.  We have worked with Network For Good on client projects for years and strongly suggest that you check them out to learn about their non profit fundraising platform.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #2.

Focus on media.

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Non profit organizations and the media are necessary bedfellows. Media outlets can provide visibility for non profits in ways that would be impossible otherwise, and the impact can be significant. Media can provide awareness for non profits that can take their message viral and deliver it directly to donors and sponsors. In this case, media includes traditional journalists, bloggers and social influencers; anyone with a platform and megaphone that can help you reach vital audiences.  A non profit website should be media-friendly, making it easy and intuitive to access information regarding the organization, such as press kits and press releases. The website should be completely transparent in regards to its structure. This includes management, board of directors, founders, sponsors, etc.

A good non profit website should provide printer-friendly pages, which makes it easy for journalists to print out specific pages that are properly formatted. A good website will provide a media section, which includes images, PDFs, project initiatives and other critical information so that the media does not have to contact the organization in order to request information. It is important to be very clear on the website which information is free for consumption and which information requires permission.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #3.

Focus on volunteers.

non profit website

Volunteers are the foot soldiers of an organization. A non profit website should be user-friendly for volunteers, providing them with information in an easy and intuitive manner. The website should make the ways to get involved in the organization a priority and highly visible. This includes organization activities, advocacy and available opportunities to engage, all leading them to take specific actions online.

The website should be looked at as a recruiting tool for volunteers. Don’t just ask for donations, encourage visitors to get involved. Don’t be bashful in this task. Encourage volunteers to establish grassroot chapters of the organization in their community and urge them to recruit new volunteers and donors. Create online forums that allows volunteers to communicate with one another and share ideas. Lastly, make sure to use social media to its fullest extent and be active on all popular platforms.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #4.

Focus on purpose.

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Although some non profit organizations, Such as the Komen Foundation, Care and the Salvation Army have been highly successful in promoting their causes and educating the populace on their activities, many organizations get muddled down in their messaging and confuse their audience with inconsistencies. A good non profit website will focus like a laser beam on its organization’s purpose that site visitors will immediately connect with.

In order to focus on purpose, a non profit website should clearly display its  organization’s mission statement on the home page, front and center.  The messaging should be focused and concise, and end with calls to action. A good non profit website will understand the organizations target audience and know how to communicate with them in unique fashion. Just like the organization itself, a non profit website knows what it is, its purpose and its audience.

Finally, another recommended strategy to promote focus is to create a marketing video for the organization and place it on the website. This will allow site visitors to learn about the organization using their preferred medium.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #5.

Focus on content.

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With web, as with all mediums, content is king. Be concise with your content to make certain it effectively supports the organization. The content should be centered around the organization’s key phrases and adapted appropriately for use on the web. This includes desktops, tablets and mobile devices. Bear in mind that content that displays well on a desktop may not carry over to a smartphone experience, where scroll fatigue is a real problem.

Your website should be well organized for content. This includes defining primary toolbars that represent a specific and unique section of the website. Here is a good example of navigation best practices for a non profit website.

  • Home (usually the logo)
  • About Us
  • What We Do
  • Take Action / Get Involved
  • Events
  • Press Room
  • Resources
  • Donate
  • Contact Us

Another important consideration for website content is user behavior. When people visit a website, they typically don’t peruse the content. Rather, they scan through the sentences and paragraphs in search of keywords that will their attention.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #6.

Focus on consistency.

non profit web

Your non profit website is a vital channel of a larger over all marketing strategy. It’s important to have a well defined brand strategy and to maintain that strategy across all marketing channels, including print media and promotional media. Brand consistency is the foundation of brand strategy .

A consistent brand ensures effective brand positioning and visibility. The logo that is on your website should be the same one you use on your business cards and letterhead. Your tagline on your website should be the same one you use on social media.  By maintaining a consistent brand strategy you are generating consistent awareness with donors, sponsors, volunteers and media. Know the difference between platforms and adapt the brand strategy so that it is optimized for each channel. A good starting point is to create a styleguide, which is a set of rules and instructions for brand conformity and can be used by web designers, print shops, etc.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #7.

Focus on the communication.

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Every non profit website needs a blog. A blog is your frontline for updating people about your organization, its happenings and its needs. A blog is like an octopus with its eight tentacles, each tentacle being a different marketing channel. A blog keeps people in touch, whether it’s through them coming to your website, receiving an email, subscribing to an RSS feed or reading about articles on social media. A blog keeps the organization relevant and and at the forefront of people’s thoughts.

Blogs give you traction. In this content-hungry digital world, other media is seeking fresh content. A well-written and consistently-produced blog will garner interest by journalists, bloggers and other websites as they will reference articles or quotes from your blog. Finally, a blog is fodder for search engines and can increase your organic visibility. This will drive more traffic to your website and generate better results.

Non Profit Web Design: Best Practices #8.

Focus on the end.

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If you think about it for a moment, isn’t the goal for every non profit to eventually go out of business? The Komen Foundation wants to cure breast cancer. The World Wildlife Fund wants to save endangered species from extinction. The World Literacy Foundation wants to end global illiteracy. The leaders in each non profit organization should be driven to become unnecessary. Therefore, a good non profit website should be focused on the end.

As with any journey long or short, there is always the first step. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. A non profit website must tell this story. Here are the steps:

  • The Problem (why we are here)
  • The Solution (what we are doing about the problem)
  • The Result (how we fixed the problem)

In your website, be clear on the desired result. Give your audience something to work towards and a clear definition of the end.

Conclusion

A non profit website performs multiple tasks. It represents the organization. It states its purpose and its end game. It encourages donors and sponsors. It recruits volunteers to take action. It engages with the media. Here at D E E P B L U E, we’re experts in the field of website creation and have designed many sites for non profit clients – just take a look at our portfolio! As a team of highly skilled web designers, you can depend on us to work closely with you and to create the perfect website that meets all your expectations, makes your organization stand out from the crowd and helps you to effectively achieve all of your goals.

We are a nationally recognized San Francisco web design agency with 20 years of experience in working with some of the most important non profit organizations in the world, and with our strong reputation for reliability and trustworthiness, we’re a top choice for your non profit  website.

D E E P B L U E is a proud supporter of the Save Our Seas Foundation & White Shark Conservation Project.

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D E E P B L U E is a San Francisco web designer that delivers measurable results. Learn more about our non-profit web design services.

When it comes to these hot new trends, the team here at D E E P B L U E is ready and willing to use them when designing your site. In fact, many of the new trends follow the work we have completed, making us proud web design trendsetters. If you want to get your hands on a site that is innovative and designed beautifully then give us a call, we’d love to work with you.

 

Andrew Slade

Andrew Slade is a blogger and search engine marketer.

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