What Your Website Design Says About Your Funding Goals

| GS INSIGHTS

Your fundraising goals should be obvious from every page on your website. Learn what your website’s design is saying to visitors and improve your communication.


Your website is the face of your nonprofit, and whether you intend it to or not, the information there tells visitors what your fundraising priorities are. This means that preparing your digital strategy and website design with your fundraising goals in mind is key for obtaining the results you want.

However, while not everyone is a web design expert, everyone can still create a website that aligns with their nonprofit’s brand and fundraising goals.

To help your team leverage your website to reach your fundraising goals, this guide explores three ways your website design influences your site visitors’ perceptions of your organization, including:

  • Branding;
  • Usability; and,
  • Activity.

Adhering to these principles will show your visitors, whether they are individual donors or grantmakers researching your organization, that your nonprofit is worth funding.

Branding

Consistent branding shows visitors two things: one, that your nonprofit is a cohesive organization with identifiable core values represented by your logo and other imagery, and, two, that all documents on your website are controlled by the same organization.

If you’re familiar with basic branding principles, you will likely agree with the first point, but the second may be confusing until you take a step back and view your website from an outside perspective.

While you might practice regular website maintenance to keep your site secure, some organizations don’t, and visitors are wary of viruses and scam websites masquerading as payment forms. Fortunately, you can reassure your site visitors that your nonprofit is both secure and professional by adding brand elements such as your logo to every page on your website, as well as on any links that direct visitors to other forms.

You can also invest in tools that embed core features like payment forms directly into your website, so visitors can feel safe and comfortable donating without being directed to a third-party page or worrying where their money is going.

Usability

User friendly websites are easy to navigate and contain informative, engaging content that leads supporters down the path towards donating. Not every nonprofit has the time or resources to conduct rigorous user testing, which can involve bringing in dozens of test users, but you can still improve your website’s usability yourself by asking the following questions:

  • What are the most important pages on my website? For many nonprofits, the most important pages are your donation form, mission statement, and information on your current initiatives. Make sure these pages are accessible from your navigation bar.
  • Is it obvious what visitors should be looking at on this page? If you have a lot to share, it can be easy to create cluttered pages. Unfortunately, doing so can create confusion. Limit unnecessary details, content items, and other distractions so your most important content can stand out.
  • Can everyone use my website? Your website may be limiting your audience if you’re not following accessibility guidelines. Make sure your website has a high color contrast, font that can be increased in size, and alternative text for images and videos.

If you’re unsure how you can implement these practices or need additional design help, consider seeking out a web design consultant, like the ones listed in this guide. Web design consultants have years of experience working with nonprofits, which means they are an invaluable source of information for both your design and technical needs.

Activity

Your website’s visitors want to know that the nonprofit behind your website is active, healthy, and currently making progress in fulfilling its mission. This means that after creating your website, you’ll need to make regular updates to your content to reassure visitors your nonprofit is still going strong.

Regularly adding new content also gives your long-term supporters more ways to engage with your nonprofit. Some nonprofits get creative with their content, while others rely on a few proven strategies such as:

  • Hosting a blog. Many nonprofits use their blogs to heighten their authority in their field, while also providing supporters with engaging content such as informative articles. However, you can use your blog to post almost anything, including team updates, volunteer spotlights, links to your podcast, and more.
  • Integrating social media profiles. Maintaining multiple social media accounts and your blog’s newspage can quickly become overwhelming for small teams. You can save them the effort and encourage supporters to interact with your nonprofit on other platforms by integrating your social media profiles into your newspage.
  • Updating existing content. As your organization grows, your fundraising team becomes more experienced, and new information about your field comes out, you’ll need to update your current content to reflect these changes. Doing so keeps your website up to date and also helps you eliminate broken links, which can be a sign of a defunct website.

Also, make sure your website remains secure. According to Bloomerang’s guide to nonprofit cybersecurity, 38% of nonprofits don’t have a plan if they experience a security breach. You can prevent vulnerabilities by making website maintenance a priority. During maintenance, update and remove out of date content and links, and also be sure to install any new security updates your web developer or software integrations might need.

Action steps you can take today
  • Draft out your website’s redesign on paper—it’s easier to make changes with a pencil and eraser than your website’s html.
  • Conduct routine maintenance on your website and update anything that’s out of date or not working.
  • Create a content posting schedule to keep your website healthy and active.
  • Visit Cornershop Creative to see some of the best nonprofit websites currently in use for organizations seeking to improve their navigation, accessibility, and overall design.