Your nonprofit’s website is an instrumental part of your fundraising strategy and can directly impact how many donations you earn. A strong design with a user-friendly interface can lead not only to more donors, but larger donations and recurring gifts.
Fortunately, all nonprofits can optimize their website to increase their fundraising potential, even those without a web design expert on staff. With the right investment in website building tools and research on some of the most popular nonprofit websites, your team can design a website built for improved giving and implement most of the upgrades yourself.
To help your nonprofit get started brainstorming ways to improve, this article will explore five web design ideas that will optimize your website for donations:
- Make your donation button highly visible.
- Follow accessibility guidelines.
- Use engaging images.
- Invest in plugins.
- Make your website shareable.
While your team can likely update your website to include many of these suggestions, some tips might be more challenging to implement, especially if you end up rehauling your website’s design. If your team runs into technical trouble, reach out to a web consultant to get the problem resolved as soon as possible.
1. Make your donation button highly visible.
When visitors reach your website, the donation process should be as streamlined as possible. Supporters should have no questions about if or how they can donate, and you can help them out by making links to your donation page as accessible and visible as possible.
Most nonprofits accomplish this by creating a brightly colored donation button and displaying it on every page of their website, ensuring visitors can jump straight to their donation page no matter where they are on the website. You can further optimize your donation process by:
- Making navigation easy. Most donors will likely want to browse your website before making a donation. Ensure your key pages, such as your current initiatives, mission statement, and board directory are all easy to find. Using sticky navigation will keep your top navigation menu visible the whole time visitors are scrolling your website so it is easy to find this important information at any point.
- Branding your donation page. Many donors are wary of potential scammers masquerading as nonprofits, and they might feel nervous about giving out their credit card information without proper reassurance. You can help ease donors’ fears by creating a consistent donation experience, including a branded donation page, so they always know they are giving to your organization.
- Providing additional directions if necessary. For most donation pages, giving will be straightforward. Donors submit their payment information, select the amount they would like to give, and press submit. However, if your nonprofit uses add-ons or is trying to encourage different kinds of donations, you may need to provide additional instructions. For example, 360MatchPro’s guide to matching gifts describes in detail how nonprofits using matching gift tools should take extra steps to automate the process and provide information about why donors should follow additional steps in order to secure a matching gift.
As you design your donation process on your website, make sure you have analytics tools in place that can help you monitor visitors’ behavior. Doing so will allow you to see if there are any steps in the donation process that experience a drop off and make necessary adjustments to see more donations to completion.
2. Follow accessibility guidelines.
You can maximize your nonprofit’s fundraising potential by ensuring all guests can access your website. By following web accessibility guidelines, you’ll open up your nonprofit to all visitors, including those using assistive technology like screen readers, those with color blindness and other visual impairments, and even visitors with slow internet connections.
You may need help making your entire website compliant with accessibility guidelines, but there are many standards that you can implement yourself, such as:
- Alternative text and transcripts. Images and videos are great engagement tools that provide variety for visitors interacting with your content. Make sure all of your visitors can access these page elements by including alternative text and transcripts for your website’s visual content.
- Color contrast. Not everyone is able to see colors the same way, and you can get a sense of whether or not your website accommodates everyone by viewing it in grayscale. The contrast in grayscale, or lack thereof will show whether you need to change your color scheme. Online tools, such as the WebAIM Contrast Checker are also useful for assessing visible accessibility.
- Indicative link anchor text. Whether you’re linking to another page on your website or directing visitors to somewhere else on the web, make sure all of your links have anchor text that clearly indicates to visitors what kind of content they will be directed to if they click on them. For example, the anchor text “learn more by visiting our about page” conveys far more information than “click here to learn more.”
As mentioned, your nonprofit may require more in-depth assistance to meet every web accessibility standard. Experienced nonprofit website consultants will be knowledgeable about creating accessible website designs and be able to provide guidance on how your nonprofit can build one as well.
3. Use engaging images.
Websites that only contain text can be rather boring and monotonous to browse. Plus, many visitors will decide if they want to engage with your content within seconds of clicking on your website. Make sure you have something to catch their attention by using a variety of engaging images.
Our eyes are naturally drawn to bright colors and other visual elements over plain text. Your website’s design can use this to boost donation conversions by leading donors towards your donation page. For example, as mentioned previously, brightly colored donation buttons will immediately attract attention, which can lead more users to visit your donation page.
Choose active images that are relevant to your cause, fit your nonprofit’s brand, and help establish a connection with visitors. For instance, images of volunteers at work might pair well with your page detailing your programs and initiatives, as it provides visitors with a visual example of what your nonprofit does to fulfill your mission.
4. Invest in plugins.
Plugins, add-ons, integratable software, and other online web tools can help you customize your nonprofit’s website and add features to help increase your fundraising potential. Nonprofits using platforms like WordPress will have a wealth of options, as there are thousands of available add-ons, and many web design professionals have created tailored lists of the best website plugins out there.
Plugins provide all sorts of functions that can help your nonprofit stay organized and collect donations, such as:
- Pop-ups. You may assume that pop-ups are just an annoyance, but a well-placed pop-up can encourage donors to give more and to give more frequently. For example, after a donor completes their donation, you can create a pop-up prompting them to join your monthly giving program.
- Integratable forms. You can create a streamlined donation experience for your donors and your nonprofit by adding integrated forms to your website. These forms can be embedded right onto your website, creating a seamless donation process on your website’s front-end. Then, on your website’s back-end, information will be deposited straight into your CRM.
- Back-end organization. Your website will accumulate a lot of data, and keeping it organized is key to fundraising and making better donations requests. Invest in plugins that will help clean up your database by deleting duplicate donor profiles, helping standardize data results, and more.
Make sure to thoroughly research plugins before adding them to your website. While trustworthy plugins can transform your website for the better, un-secure and outdated plugins can leave your website vulnerable to security breaches and data leaks.
5. Make your website shareable.
A majority of your online marketing campaigns will likely involve directing supporters to your website to complete their donation. You can make this step as easy as possible by ensuring that your website is highly shareable.
This can be done in a number of ways, including adding social media links to your website, ensuring you have a condensed version of your mission statement and programs, and creating unique donation pages for volunteers fundraising on your behalf.
You can also get creative, and add features that make your website truly unique to help garner attention and spread your nonprofit’s online presence further. Cornershop Creative’s nonprofit software development services are a good example of how nonprofits can build custom made applications to engage supporters.
For example, Cornershop Creative discusses how custom apps can be used as an extension of a nonprofit’s website, providing supporters with additional online activities and engaging them wherever they go.
Your website is one of your nonprofit’s core fundraising tools. Make sure its design is supporting your fundraising strategy by making it accessible to everyone and crafting a user experience that prioritizes donor convenience. You can get started by implementing web design best practices now or reaching out to a web consultant to get a professional opinion first.
About the Author
Sarah Fargusson, Director of Digital Strategy at Cornershop Creative
Self-described as a “non-profit junkie,” Sarah has dedicated her career to serving the needs of the non-profit sector. Her project management experience spans a variety of non-profit management disciplines including strategic planning, community engagement, capacity building, fundraising and research. She has worked both in and for the non-profit sector at the Feminist Majority Foundation, the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, and the consulting firms The Lee Institute and The Curtis Group. With her ever expanding non-profit tool belt, Sarah joined Cornershop Creative to tap into her techie, creative side, while developing meaningful partnerships with her clients to help them more effectively achieve their goals.
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