Winning Website Tips for Nonprofits

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We see a LOT of nonprofit websites. Some are really nice. Many are not so great, but easily fixed.

Use these tips to avoid the common pitfalls that keep many from turning website visitors into your next supporter:

  1. Start with Why. Show what matters most first. Be sure your website states who you are and why you matter in a compelling way from the outset. Want to know more – check out Simon Sinek for more on his “Start with Why” theory.
  2. Tour your site as if you want to make a donation. How easy do you make it to make a gift. And don’t think that just because you have a big “Donate Now” button, you have it covered. Those buttons can scare potential donors away by directing them straight to PayPal or a page asking for gift levels with no introduction or words of support for the organization. Tell your visitors WHY give before demanding payment.
  3. Make it easy to find and know your people. Does your site list staff and board members, including contact information for development staff? If I want to email or talk to a person, how would I find them? Does your board list give only their names, or does it tell a little something about them to make a more personal connection with your leaders? Besides a job title, you might include a sentence of what motivates their involvement with the organization. Since people give to people, make your site as relational as you can.
  4. Keep it current. So many websites have outdated news posted. When your event is over, take it down; or better yet, post some fun photos and celebrate your successes for all to see.
  5. Consider your call-to-action. What do you want a visitor to your site to DO? Do you want them to receive a newsletter, make a gift, link to your social networking sites, join, volunteer…? Make it easy for constituents of all types to take actions from your site.
  6. Avoid acronyms. Industry jargon may be really familiar to you, but a total turn-off for those visiting your site who don’t know its translation. Ask an outsider to review and give feedback on your site occasionally to keep it friendly for those outside your inner circle.
  7. Be transparent. Lots of donors use your website to find out more about you and to gauge their potential investment. Make your annual report, 990s, past newsletters, and board and staff leadership lists easy to find and navigate. 

If you’re reading this, and think you don’t have time to do any of it, you might consider a staff/volunteer committee to help with your online planning and execution. This is an especially great use of recent college grads looking to gain volunteer experience.

Want to know more? Consider joining us for a future workshop. We dig deep into many more aspects of philanthropy.

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