This article will help you improve the reach of your nonprofit website while improving the experience for donors, clients, and volunteers. Nonprofit websites must build trust, inspire passion, and encourage supporters to take action. When you demonstrate your impact through your website, you increase donor confidence and donations. This article will help you improve transparency and build trust with your most important audiences.
7 Tips to Improve Your Nonprofit Organization’s Website
Your website is your portal for donors, supporters, and most importantly, your clients. The best way to improve your nonprofit website you have to make sure that it serves the right purposes. This post gives you 7 ways to improve your nonprofit website.
#1 Nonprofit Websites Help You Build Loyalty and Trust
The main purpose of your website is to convey your impact and build trust with three of your most important audiences- existing donors, volunteers, and clients. Putting your best foot forward by conveying your impact can help bring you more clients and more donors so you can make more impact. (It’s a vicious cycle.)
You might have realized your website isn’t getting many visitors or you can’t convert visitors to donors or clients. You likely found this article because you were looking for ways to increase your website traffic and improve your online presence as an organization.
A secondary purpose for your website to fulfill is building trust with potential supporters and clients. Unfortunately, a recent study found that only 56% of Americans trust nonprofit organizations. That’s down 3% since 2020. At the same time, 1/3 of nonprofit organizations face financial hardship that will cause them to close within 2 years due to the effects of the pandemic.
With so many nonprofit organizations to choose from, your website helps you set your organization apart from the competition. Using your website to build trust amongst existing and potential supporters will contribute to the sustainability of your organization.
If you’re a new nonprofit and you don’t have a website yet, your website will help you build a reputable brand. Building trust for a new nonprofit organization is essential to survival. Your website will offer you ways to communicate with potential supporters and clarify your purpose for existing.
#2 Know Who’s Coming to Your Nonprofit’s Website
Creating donor, volunteer, and client avatars will help you build your website. Having avatars for the top visitors to your website guides the specific pages you create to engage each group.
If you don’t know who’s coming to your nonprofit’s website, you can use analytics from other platforms to tell you who might be interested. I explain how to use Google Analytics in my Level Up Your Influence Academy. Google Analytics helps you to see the top referral sources for traffic to your website. Here are three concrete ways to know who is coming (or potentially coming) to your website.
- Social media followers
- If you have social media channels check your demographics in your analytics on each platform.
- Google Analytics and Google Search Console referral sources
- You can get insights into your website visitors through each of these tools.
- Current supporters and clients
- Your current supporters and clients are likely similar groups of people to your potential website visitors.
Creating an avatar for each group of donors in your fundraising strategy will help you generate content that builds trust and connection with that type of donor. Client avatars will help you fill your programs and services with the right type of people who can benefit from your nonprofit’s support.
The last thing you want is a bunch of people going to your website and feeling like it’s “not for them” so they don’t donate, volunteer, or rely on you for support.
#3 Why Do Charities and Nonprofit Organizations Use .org vs. .com?
Your website is a vehicle to generate donations. That means your website must demonstrate that you’re a legit organization that can keep financial information safe. Simply using a .org URL for your website is not enough to convey that your organization is trustworthy and legit.
Are all .org websites a nonprofit organization?
Definitely not. Anyone can create a .org website by purchasing a domain name.
.org stands for organization. Nonprofits typically use .org to demonstrate they are a nonprofit organization. That doesn’t mean that they’re the only ones with a .org. There is no way to prevent a business or another type of entity from purchasing a .org website.
In fact, one of the reasons people distrust nonprofit websites is because people have used the .org URL for illegitimate or scam organizations. That reflects badly on real nonprofits who are trying desperately to become trusted entities.
One way you can battle this is by sharing information in a transparent fashion on your website. This will help people build trust with your organization and will make them more likely to become your clients, donors, or volunteers.
Information that can help build your website’s credibility includes:
- Safeguards for sensitive information
- Demonstrating you use secure platforms for financial transactions
- Sharing your organization’s financial information
- Showing how much money from each dollar goes directly to programming vs. overhead
This last point is extremely important. Every nonprofit website should have a statement like this:
“$.XX of every dollar goes directly to our programs and services.”
As a general rule of thumb, roughly $.65 of every dollar should go to programs. For very efficient organizations, $.75 cents on every dollar goes to programs.
#4 Free vs. Paid Nonprofit Websites
Nonprofits often can access free websites or websites built on fundraising platforms that are specific for nonprofits. Depending on how you built your free website, you might only have access to certain features or have a limited amount of information that you can put into a website.
A few limitations you might encounter with free sites:
- Templates that cannot be altered very easily
- Limited options for the types of pages or functionality
- Limited options for financial transactions
- Limited options for events and email lists
That doesn’t mean free is bad! You can build a website for nonprofits on using a template on most major website builders.
If you have the option to pay for your website you can look at platforms like WordPress.com. However, WordPress sites can require you to contract outside help to build and manage your website. On the flip side, WordPress sites offer a much more tailored experience and can be completely customized.
#5 What should a Nonprofit Website Include?
There are some essential parts of every website that your nonprofit needs to include as well. These tips will help you create an engaging and thorough website.
Your homepage should be effective at giving the information people need to know to support your organization. It should include your mission and vision and how you make an impact. Your homepage must be appealing to both donors and to clients so that each group can navigate to the parts of your website where they can find the information they’re looking for.
Cleary Identifiable Mission/Vision and Impact
Your organization’s impact mission must be clearly stated above the fold on your website. That means without scrolling your website visitors must be able to understand your purpose. This helps visitors understand why they came to your website and what they should be expecting.
Likewise, donors and clients want to know your impact. Demonstrating your impact on your website prominently shows people how you make a difference. Check out my Social Impact Website Audit tool below for help demonstrating your impact on your website.
Optimizing your donation landing page helps your website visitors clearly see why they should donate to you. Prominently displaying a donate button above the fold or having multiple donate buttons makes it clear how people can give. Your donation page can include information about the different types of donations you are seeking. Including higher and lower giving levels creates more opportunities for people to give.
On donor pages, it’s helpful to have language that is specific to the different types of donor personas that you are trying to connect with.
Your website should describe your clients and reduce barriers to accessing your services. Clearly identifying who you serve, how you serve them, and when/where you will provide services helps your clients navigate your services. By including clear information about your services you can reduce barriers to people accessing help.
Volunteer pages should be inspirational and demonstrate the benefit of volunteering with your organization. As you collect volunteer information, make sure that that information from your website translates to a secure database so that you can access the information to engage potential volunteers when they are needed.
#6 Inspirational and Clear Copy
Using an inspirational tone throughout your website will help website visitors connect to your organization’s mission. There has to be a clear link between the organization’s mission, the services, the website content, and the copy on your website pages. Having inspirational copy will help you connect to clients, volunteers, donors, and people who are just becoming aware of your cause.
#7 What Makes a Good Nonprofit Website? Ideas to Set You Apart
Strong Visuals- Remember to use high-quality images. If you take images at your events it’s important to have photo releases from participants to ensure you have permission to take their pictures and put them on the internet. Do not take photos of children and use them on your website without their guardian’s consent. For children, you can use stock images if needed.
Financial Information– Including your 990 annual filing information on your website shows website visitors you are transparent about your financial status. You can include this information in your organization’s About page or a separate section.
Board and Staff Information- You should have a Staff or Board page to demonstrate the caliber of people that are part of your organization. This information helps build legitimacy so people know that you are a real nonprofit. For staff and board members, including their titles, a short bio and contact information helps website visitors connect to your most valuable players.
Easy to Use Navigation- Your website’s navigation is extremely important to guide people to the most important parts of your website. The navigation bar and your home page are particularly important places to create easy-to-follow navigation.
Need to Re-vamp Your Nonprofit’s Website? Download my Social Impact Website Audit Tool!
Before you touch your website… make sure you know what needs to be changed. Get the tool I designed to help my clients improve their websites quickly and easily. The Social Impact & Nonprofit Website Audit will help you determine what needs to be changed and how to show your impact on your website.
This tool will help you:
- Identify if you need to hire help you fix your website or you can “do-it-yourself”
- Identify the keywords for your website
- Audit how you demonstrate your impact online
- Develop the right copy to show your impact
- Identify which metrics to share so you can highlight your work
This is a one-of-a-kind tool you will not find anywhere else, make sure you get the download before you make any updates to your website.