An important fundraising lesson many nonprofits have learned in recent years is that having a streamlined, informative website is no longer optional — it’s essential for engaging donors.
Your website doesn’t just tell donors who you are and what you’re all about. It provides a centralized hub for your online fundraising strategy and can even help expand your marketing efforts to reach new audiences.
In this post, we’ll cover top website design tips that will allow your nonprofit to drive more engagement and donations using your website. To optimize your site for higher donor engagement, you should:
- Design your website with the donor journey in mind.
- Optimize your website for mobile screens.
- Incorporate accessibility guidelines and best practices.
- Make it easy to find your online giving page.
- Use your website to tell the emotional side of your story.
These tips are valid even if you don’t have a web designer or developer on staff. However, if you feel you need more support when it comes to adjusting your website, there are plenty of web design firms that specialize in building and designing nonprofit websites.
1. Design your website with the donor journey in mind.
Kanopi describes the donor journey as the steps a donor takes to become more involved in your nonprofit, from initial awareness to deciding to give and then becoming a recurring supporter.
This graphic depicts the steps of the donor journey:
One of the most important elements of the donor journey is the research phase, where donors learn more about your organization to determine if they want to contribute to your fundraising efforts.
Optimize your website for guiding donors through the research process by including:
- Hard data showing the impact of fundraising on your organization’s ability to help the community or pursue its mission. For instance, let donors know that a $100 donation allows your organization to provide a week’s worth of meals to four families in need. Or, describe how your last peer-to-peer fundraising campaign raised enough funds to build a new playground for youth in the community. This helps prospective donors make the connection between their potential financial support and the real work your organization can accomplish as a result of that support.
- Success stories detailing specific instances where your organization has helped people. Include real stories and testimonials from your organization’s constituents and be sure to place them at the center of your story, not your nonprofit. This helps prospective donors understand the scope of your work within your community.
- Annual reports that show your nonprofit’s growth year after year. Supporters want to know that their gifts will be used wisely if they choose to donate to your organization. By including your annual report on your website, you show donors that your organization is financially sound and puts its funding to good use.
Include this information throughout your website, such as your about page, impact page, and blog posts. Use these details to reassure your supporters that their decision to donate to your cause will make a real difference in community members’ lives. This can encourage them to move through the final stages of the donor journey and eventually become recurring donors.
2. Optimize your website for mobile screens.
According to this nonprofit fundraising statistics page, half of all nonprofit website traffic last year came from mobile and tablet users, and the share of desktop-based traffic actually decreased by 9% over the previous year.
So, what does this mean for your nonprofit’s website design? Your site must be optimized for mobile screens, or you could potentially be missing chances to connect with a wider audience.
Luckily, most content management systems (the platform you use to design and maintain your website) allow you to view your website in a mobile format to ensure there aren’t any formatting issues.
Here are a few tips to ensure your website is mobile-optimized:
- Use a mobile-responsive website theme
- Keep your website’s design and structure simple
- Simplify your site’s navigation menu
- Choose a font size that’s large enough to be read on mobile devices
- Get rid of any pop-up messages and ads
- Make your buttons stand out from the background
Enhancing your website’s mobile friendliness allows you to meet supporters where they are and encourage them to connect with you on a device they use all the time. Audience members will appreciate being able to easily view your website without having to fire up their laptops or desktop computers to find the information they’re looking for.
3. Incorporate accessibility guidelines and best practices.
Following accessibility guidelines ensures your website offers a positive user experience for all visitors, regardless of their age, ability, or device. When you design your website to comply with accessibility standards and regulations, you make your content inclusive and available to the widest possible audience.
Here are some accessibility considerations to keep in mind:
- Ensure all images include alt text for those using screen readers.
- Include transcripts or closed captions for videos.
- Ensure there’s enough contrast between the foreground text and the background colors.
- Make your navigation straightforward to assist those using keyboard navigation.
- Don’t include any flashing or strobing elements.
Use a free tool such as Lighthouse for Google Chrome to review your website’s accessibility. Run reports on your important site pages to receive an accessibility score and suggestions for improvement.
4. Make it easy to find your online giving page.
Re:Charity’s nonprofit fundraising strategy guide says it best: “Convenience is key in bringing donors across the giving finish line.” Your website can make the giving process easy and convenient for donors, allowing them to contribute wherever and whenever they desire. Your main asset in facilitating convenient digital giving is your online donation page.
Make your donation form easy to find and navigate by:
- Including it in your website’s navigation menu
- Linking to it using large buttons on your homepage
- Only asking for necessary information on the form, such as contact and payment details
- Improving the form’s load speed by optimizing images, streamlining the code, and reducing top-heavy page elements
- Ensuring the page is mobile-optimized
- Offering multiple payment methods
When your giving page is well-designed and mobile-friendly, you can incorporate it into your peer-to-peer fundraising efforts to expand your fundraising capabilities and empower supporters to get more involved. Your staff members or volunteers can easily share the page using text messages, social media posts, and emails, bringing your fundraising campaign to the attention of a larger audience.
The bottom line is that you want to provide donors with an immediate way to contribute to your organization when they feel inspired to do so. Your online giving page facilitates a quick and easy giving process for donors and allows your organization to access the funds faster than traditional fundraising methods like direct mail.
5. Use your website to tell the emotional side of your story.
The heart of your nonprofit is the story of your mission. Use your website to tell supporters this story in a way that encourages them to get involved. As stated in this nonprofit website guide, “The best nonprofit websites know who their users are and what motivates them.”
Use your website to tell impact stories that illuminate the interpersonal aspect of your nonprofit. You can do this by:
- Creating a video that highlights your nonprofit’s mission. Showcase the different groups involved in your success, from volunteers to staff members, donors, board members, constituents, and community leaders. Embed the video on your homepage or about page so visitors can easily learn about your cause.
- Inviting constituents to share their own stories. Include first-person accounts from those who have been served by your nonprofit. These testimonials might be in the form of written accounts, video interviews, or audio recordings.
- Using compelling imagery. A picture’s worth a thousand words, and that’s especially true when it comes to designing your website. You don’t want to bore visitors with large chunks of written text. Instead, choose images that convey emotion and tell your story without words. Make sure you choose original photos only, not stock photos. These days, most internet users are savvy enough to tell the difference.
Once you’ve decided how you’ll share your nonprofit’s story, use your website analytics to assess how website visitors are engaging with each multimedia element. Review metrics like your most popular pages, the amount of time users spend on each page, and how long visitors watch your videos. If you’re seeing low engagement numbers, adjust your strategy to figure out which pages and multimedia elements are most appealing to your visitors.
By showcasing the emotional side of your organization, you can inspire donors to become true advocates for your cause. When they feel a deep-rooted connection to your nonprofit, they’ll be much more likely to become repeat donors rather than one-time contributors.
Your website is the online hub for your digital fundraising efforts, and therefore must be optimized for engaging donors. When you design your website with the donor journey in mind, as well as user experience best practices, you can reach a wider audience and engage them in your mission.
If your team needs an extra helping hand, partner with a website design firm to help create a well-rounded website strategy that supports your fundraising and marketing efforts.