Running a nonprofit is no easy task. The passion and effort you pour into your organization helps make the world a better place… but it probably fills up your schedule, too! All too often, nonprofit organizations believe the time needed to build and maintain a website is best spent elsewhere. But that doesn’t have to be the case! A website is the best way to interact with supporters and spread the word about your cause. We’ve put together this nonprofit website checklist to help you build a web presence that’s easy to use and maintain.
This article isn’t intended to be a full website walkthrough. Instead, we’ll list the things you’ll need that are specific to websites for nonprofit organizations. How can you maximize support and aid for your mission? What do your donors want out of your website? Let’s get started!
Presenting Your Site: Simplicity Speaks
If you’re looking to generate awareness and raise money for your nonprofit, you don’t want to confuse visitors with a complicated or hard-to-navigate website. Rather, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to learn about your organization and the issues you tackle. Once they’ve done so, give them a straightforward path to donating or getting involved.
How do you go about simplifying your site? To start with, take a look at your navigation bar (and make sure it’s visible from every part of your site). Combine any pages with similar or complementary information. You can also create dropdown lists from your navigation bar that list subpages under a broader parent page. Ensure each page has a name no more than one to three words that clearly states what it contains. Eliminate unnecessary distractions on every page. Having a pleasing design is great, but never let it get in the way of your site’s content.
Simplifying your website generally simplifies your site’s maintenance, too. You’ll have an easier time updating and maintaining pages when your website is clearly organized and easy to navigate. This nonprofit website checklist centers around creating a clean, simple, easily-navigable site, so get started here!
1. Tell Your Story
There’s a story behind every cause. Your website offers you the chance to share it with an About page, so tell your visitors why your mission matters. Combine facts, statistics, and studies with personal stories to give your cause weight.
Once you’ve explained the cause, dive into the solution: you! Explain the work your organization is doing and the impact it’s had. Share pictures of your work in the field, on the streets, or wherever your efforts take you. By explaining the importance of what you do, the success you’ve had, and the goals you hope to achieve, you’ll turn your visitors into supporters.
Example: Assist International
When Assist International needed a new website to represent their mission, they turned to Punch Bug Marketing. We helped them implement a site that immediately shows what they do and why it’s important. See for yourself: check out their homepage for information on how they’re impacting healthcare, orphanages, clean water access, and other community issues in developing countries. Assist International’s goals are clear from the first page! Their site is a great example of how to implement this nonprofit website checklist.
2. Run a Blog
Your nonprofit’s story hasn’t ended, so keep your supporters up to date with a blog. Use your website builder’s blogging tool to share news, updates, events, and other insight into your organization. Blogs are built to be updated quickly and regularly, making it easy for you to spread the latest news.
Blog posts also give you another opportunity to organize and simplify your website. Use categories and tags to separate your posts into specific topics, to update specific feeds, or just make them easy to navigate.
For example, you could create a category called News to post updates on your nonprofit’s work and another category called Resources to share perennial information that visitors may find useful. Tags can be more versatile but should be consistent as well. You could tag News posts with the relevant city or region, giving your supporters a way to see what you’re doing in a specific community.
Want to learn more about blog organization? Check out our guide to using WordPress tags and categories!
3. Promote Your Donation Portal
If your organization accepts donations, it’s probably one of the most important parts of your website. So don’t hide it – put it up front where it can be seen and easily accessed!
To start with, you’ll need to choose a donation program to work with. You have several options, including DonorPerfect and GoFundMe Charity. Different donor services come with different price tags and available tools and perks, so choose one that best suits your organization’s needs. Consider using a service like Double the Donation to help boost your revenue. It does exactly what it says: it’s a tool that finds matching gifts for each donation.
Now you’ll need to find strategic places from which to link your donor portal. You should include a Donate link in your navigation bar, of course, but that doesn’t have to be the only place! Those new to your site might feel moved to give after reading your story, so include one there. A prominent link on your homepage makes it easy for repeat donors to give.
4. Get In Contact
There’s more to supporting a cause than simply giving money to it. If your supporters want to get in touch with you or learn how they can get involved, they’ll look for your Contact page. Keep yours up to date with the right address, phone numbers, email addresses, and any other important contact information your community may need. The Contact page is an essential part of any website checklist, particularly for a nonprofit.
When people get behind a cause, chances are they’ll want to donate their time as well as their money. The Contact page can be a great place for volunteer resources. If your organization accepts volunteers in any capacity, create a place on your website where interested supporters can find the information they need to get started. By creating a form for volunteer applicants, you can automate part of the screening process and save valuable time. You’ll make the application process easier for potential volunteers, too!
Example: CEASe of Scott County
The Scott County Partnership launched CEASe in an effort to combat substance abuse in rural Indiana. CEASe offers Scott County residents access to resources aimed at reducing addiction in both youth and adults. We helped them build a resource center with several ways to get involved. Their Get Involved page offers some ways substance abuse activists and community members can help and the Empower page focuses on efforts to help keep Scott County’s youth addiction-free.
5. Be Mobile Friendly
Where are your visitors when they’re browsing your website? There’s a good chance they’re not sitting in front of a computer screen! Smartphones have become a staple in web browsing, as an ever-increasing percentage of website views are on mobile devices. That can be a powerful tool you can use. By creating a mobile-friendly website, new visitors can easily learn more about your organization on their commute, during a break, or wherever they use their smartphone.
Setting up your site for mobile visitors is easier than ever. Most website building tools, including WordPress, allow you to switch to “mobile mode” to see what your website would look like on a phone screen. You can make any necessary changes to this mobile version of your site there. Some things to consider include large, touchable navigation buttons, easy-to-read text, and pictures that scale to screen size.
Want to spread your message even further when you finish this nonprofit website checklist? Check out our guide to mobile marketing here!
6. Engage with Social Media
If you want to spread the word about your mission in this day and age, you’ll need to take to social media. Creating a Facebook account for your nonprofit can help people find more information about your nonprofit. You can also share events and other important updates there.
However, we also recommend starting an Instagram account for your organization. Instagram is a visual platform that helps users connect with their interests, which can be perfect for a nonprofit. Take photos that help convey the importance of your work. You can give your Instagram profile a human touch with pictures of your volunteers and staff (with permission!). Find popular hashtags on Instagram that relate to your cause and use them to help promote it.
To learn more, check out our guide to marketing your brand on Instagram!
For a nonprofit, a website offers the chance to share your mission with the world. You can show new visitors the importance of what you do and give donors a glimpse at what their support has helped accomplish. When you’re doing important work for your cause, maintaining a website may not always seem like the best use of your time. But take some time to make it easy to use for both you and your visitors and you’ll see why it’s the best way to rally support around your organization!