Maximize your website’s efficiency, increase donor contributions
Too many nonprofit organizations have websites that are a waste of time and resources. Why? Because they don’t captivate donors and, most importantly, collect potential donations. The organizations try to focus on communicating their values and ideas and exposing their successes to people, all with the hope of bringing in donor contributions so that they can continue to make a difference. But even in the world of nonprofit organizations, competition is fierce. Endless organizations are trying to attract the same donors that you are. Consider this: The United States has over 1.5 million 501(c)(3) organizations, and the State of Maryland is home to at least 32,000 with $5.3 billion gifted annually by Maryland residents. To give your organization a fighting chance at online, remote donor acquisition, you need to invest in an attractive and efficient website. When a potential donor visits your site, you must convince visitors that your organization is both legitimate and compelling enough to get up out of their comfy chairs and grab their wallet in the other room. How exactly do you accomplish this? Here are three concepts—critical to your website’s success—that will ensure better performance and more donor contributions.
One of the most critical and often overlooked aspects of website design is user experience. But what exactly is it? Simply put, it’s how well your website works for the people who visit it. A website should not be seen merely as a hub for your nonprofit’s information—it’s much more than that. It’s a marketing machine, an advertising tool, and a donation generator. And for a tool to perform all of these tasks successfully, it must be pleasant and easy to use.Here are some questions you can ask to help determine the quality of your website’s user experience:
- Can I quickly find out what my nonprofit is about without much digging?
- Does my website look good and work well on computers, tablets, and phones?
- Is it quick and easy to find out how to donate to my nonprofit and then actually do so? (Hint: having a BIG “Click here to Donate” button in the header & footer of your website will certainly get a visitor’s attention.)
If you can’t answer all of these questions with an immediate and resounding yes, then your site probably needs some work.
Visual Identity & Brand
In a way, you can think of a website as a virtual storefront. If it is not clean, well maintained, consistent, and professional, people will move to the next location. The goal of having a great visual identity is to convince your visitors that you are who you say you are, that your nonprofit organization is legitimate and that an individual can safely make a contribution. Donors don’t want to hand over cash to an organization that appears to hang on by shoestrings and operate from a basement. Donors want to become loyal, recurring contributors to a message they believe in. Make sure your message is clean and speaks to your ideal donor. If you explore some sites of other successful nonprofits, you’ll see things in common between them. For starters, they’re consistent and cohesive. There is a clear theme that runs throughout the site, and everything from the fonts to the colors used are chosen carefully to ensure that they are presented in the best possible way. This is your visual identity, and it’s how you communicate to a potential donor that your website represents a legitimate, professional organization.
Design goes beyond colors and fonts—it’s also about your site’s functionality and how information is structured. It’s about how each element on your website is placed to best lead a visitor down the path to becoming a contributor. Good website design uses interaction, calls-to-action, and strategically-placed donation buttons to guide users on a path that captures their attention, engages them, informs them, and eventually encourages them to donate.
Your website is the most essential fundraising tool you have—few others have the same amount of reach in the globalized world. If you’re searching for the single best strategy to generate donations for your nonprofit, take a good look at the state of your current website and ask yourself if you can afford to keep it the way it is.