5 Best Practices for Nonprofit Website Design

As a nonprofit, your website is critical to the organization’s long-term success. A strong online presence can help you raise money, engage new and existing donors, attract supporters, create media opportunities, and spread the word about your mission. As such, your website needs to be designed with those unique objectives in mind, so visitors – including donors, potential partners, and the media – are inspired to take action and get involved.

5 Best Practices for Nonprofit Website Design

To that end, here are the five best practices for designing a nonprofit website that engages donors; builds relationships with potential advocates and volunteers; and broadens your organization’s reach:

1. Communicate the organization’s purpose.

Don’t assume visitors already know what your organization is all about. Because prospects will find your site through organic search, referral links, and social media, they may not be familiar with your nonprofit initially. As such, you’ll need to clearly communicate your mission statement throughout the website. Also, we recommend featuring a prominent link where visitors can learn more about the organization – including the problem you solve, who you help, and why it matters for visitors to get involved. Help visitors dive deeper into taking action by offering clear calls-to-action related to your organization’s core purpose.

Best Practices for Nonprofit Website Design - Communicating Purpose and Mission

Best Practices for Nonprofit Website Design - wireframes for web design project for nonprofit

2. Make it easy for donors to give.

As donations are a crucial part of your nonprofit’s success, your website needs to be optimized to inspire people to support your cause. To that end, we recommend placing an attractive, eye-catching donation button on every website page and making the actual donation process as painless as possible. For example, don’t request excess information on the donation web page – just collect the donor’s name and credit card number to begin. Later on you can gather additional personal details with progressive profiling, but a short initial form makes visitors far more likely to convert. We also recommend encouraging monthly giving by outlining exactly what the donations will accomplish. For example, create a chart that demonstrates that a gift of $15 per month buys a year’s worth of clothing for 100 underprivileged kids, while $25 provides medical care for those same children.

Best Practices for Nonprofit Website Design - mobile donations with Ellis Island

3. Appeal to the media’s unique needs.

Getting media attention from journalists, bloggers, and publications can raise awareness for your organization, and thus inspire new audiences to donate their time and money to support your cause. As such, it’s important that your website appeals to the media and makes it easy for them to find the information they need. To begin, include profiles and contact information for your board of directors so the media can reach out to them for quotes and comments. Also, we recommend featuring a downloadable media kit complete with high-quality images and compelling quotes, and communicating that the media can use these items freely, without prior permission.

4. Inspire visitors to volunteer their time.

While some prospects may not be able to contribute financially, they may be able to volunteer their time to your organization’s cause. Make it easy for them to get involved by prominently featuring the various volunteer opportunities you offer, along with the appropriate contact information and next steps.

5. Use a subscribe box.

To keep in touch with current and potential donors and encourage them to give at various points throughout the year, you’ll need to capture their email addresses using a subscribe box. To begin, we recommend inviting visitors to sign up for your newsletter to receive exclusive content, event invitations, and updates on your organization’s progress. Or, you could offer them a piece of premium content, such as an interesting eBook, in exchange for their email address.

Email marketing for nonprofits

6. Embrace a relevant content strategy.

We strongly recommend embracing a content strategy and posting blogs, articles, and company news on your nonprofit’s website. Doing so will increase your organization’s visibility; inspire visitors to stay in touch; and make it easy for prospects to find your website through organic search (SEO). For topics, we recommend posting articles with photos from events and fieldwork; data and facts about your cause; stories about the impact your volunteers and donors have made; educational articles on how readers can get started volunteering; and news updates about your organization.

Learn more: 8 Reasons Arts Organizations Need to Embrace Digital Marketing



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Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency and lead generation agency. Ironpaper integrates design, technology and marketing for the web to drive meaningful results for clients. We are based in New York City and Charlotte, NC.