5 Reasons Your Nonprofit Needs an Optimized Website
As a nonprofit marketing professional, you understand the challenges of designing and maintaining a fully optimized website. It takes time and energy to create a streamlined structure, choose cohesive digital branding elements, and incorporate useful visual and written content.
But an optimized website is a non-negotiable for any nonprofit hoping to grow its online marketing efforts and earn greater support. An effective site helps open the doors to new audiences and effectively convey your organization’s mission to the world.
An optimized website is a marketing, fundraising, and communications tool, all rolled into one. Ensuring your website is well-designed and optimized for your particular audience allows your organization to:
- Connect with Your Audience 24/7
- Access a Powerful Digital Fundraising Tool
- Promote Your Brand to New Audiences
- Boost Your SEO Efforts
- Reach all Audience Members with Accessible Content
Along with highlighting these reasons, we’ll also explain some actionable web design best practices that allow you to realize your website’s full potential. Let’s get started.
1. Connect with Your Audience 24/7
At some point in the day, your nonprofit probably closes its doors. You power down your devices, shut off your lights, and lock the doors until it’s time to start a new day. But when your organization has an optimized website, you never truly shut your doors to the world.
The information and opportunities you provide on your website act as a 24/7 engagement platform for existing and potential visitors to learn more about your mission and get involved.
The following strategies will help your organization ensure your website is both available to your audience, but also provides the information they need to get involved:
- Ensure your website is mobile optimized. According to the fundraising statistics gathered by Double the Donation, half of all nonprofit website traffic is from mobile and tablet devices. That means that a large share of your website visitors view your site from a smaller screen. Ensure your text reformats itself, images are resized, and buttons are still clickable when viewed on a mobile device.
- Share information about volunteer opportunities, ongoing projects, and other relevant updates. Your supporters want to know what your organization is involved with and how they can engage with your ongoing initiatives. Use your website’s blog to provide progress updates, share impact stories, and highlight ways to get involved.
- Earn more event sign-ups by featuring a robust event calendar. Give your supporters a resource to discover upcoming events and campaigns. A robust event calendar ensures that supporters don’t miss out on any exciting events and opportunities to take their engagement to the next level.
Ongoing engagement with supporters is critical for building long-lasting relationships. Your optimized website will ensure your supporters can make connections and deepen their engagement with your mission anywhere and anytime.
2. Access a Powerful Digital Fundraising Tool
An optimized website is not only an effective communication tool — it can support your fundraising efforts. When your website is equipped with a robust digital donation page, you can create an additional revenue stream to support your overall fundraising goals.
Follow these tips to improve your website’s fundraising capabilities:
- Collect online donations with a mobile-optimized, streamlined donation page. Follow donation page design best practices when creating your form. One of these best practices includes only asking for necessary information, such as donors’ names, donation amounts, and payment information. This allows online donors to quickly move through the giving process.
- Feature audience testimonials from volunteers or those who’ve benefited from your nonprofit’s help. Your website should give your supporters a strong reason to donate alongside a platform for doing so. Encourage supporters to give by showcasing the impact of their donations on your organization’s mission.
- Launch specific fundraising campaigns on your site. Your website offers an effective digital hub to connect supporters with your online fundraising campaigns, such as a 24-hour Giving Day event or a crowdfunding campaign. These campaigns help engage supporters on an additional digital platform along with your social media pages or email newsletters.
You can also use your optimized website to promote your recurring donation options, such as your monthly giving program. This helps open up a reliable, sustainable funding stream to support your other fundraising efforts.
3. Promote Your Brand to New Audiences
Loop’s branding guide describes a nonprofit brand as “the way an organization communicates who they are and the heart of their work.” Your brand differentiates your organization from every other nonprofit and communicates why you’re worthy of support to your audience.
An optimized website offers a powerful opportunity to promote your organization’s brand to a wider audience. Your digital brand elements showcase your organization’s mission in a subtle way that gives audience members an initial idea of what you’re all about before they dive into your content in earnest.
Ensure your website’s brand elements are consistent and well-designed. This ensures your website tells a cohesive story and offers a professional experience for visitors. These elements include your:
- Logo: Your logo is the visual summary of your organization’s brand and should embody your mission and purpose. Ensure standardized logo use across your website by establishing guidelines for your primary logo design and secondary variations.
- Typography: Your font choices and text style reflect your organization’s brand in your written copy. Choose a font that communicates your brand’s personality. For instance, if your brand is more serious, you might use a strong, sans serif font to communicate your message. If your brand is more friendly or lighthearted, you might choose a bouncier font with a lighter weight.
- Colors: Similarly, your brand colors convey your brand’s tone through subconscious cues. Different colors convey different moods, so choose your color palette wisely to align with your brand’s personality.
- Tone: Your tone comes into play when crafting your website’s written copy. Tone involves the word choices and general writing style you adopt when creating content such as blog posts, webpage content, or email copy. For instance, you might adopt an authoritative, erudite tone or a more approachable, relatable one.
Uniform website branding techniques help promote brand awareness among your target audience, growing your supporter base. Create a brand style guide for your organization that includes all of your digital brand details to help maintain consistency across your website and other online marketing materials.
4. Boost Your SEO Efforts
If your website is not search engine optimized, your content will be less likely to appear at the top of search results pages.
Websites optimized for search engines allow organizations to reach audiences already interested in the nonprofit’s activities since they’re searching for terms and phrases related to the mission.
Keep these SEO tips in mind to ensure your website is optimized for search engines:
- Incorporate relevant/locally popular keywords into your website content. This shows search engines that your content is relevant for local visitors who might be interested in volunteering or supporting your cause.
- Keep your content fresh and valuable. Search engines are more likely to showcase new, highly relevant content. Plus, consistently creating new content allows you to target multiple popular keywords.
- Fine-tune your metadata. Metadata are the behind-the-scenes elements of your website, such as your meta description and image alt text attributes. Search engine crawlers use metadata to understand what your web pages are about, so this data must be descriptive and organized across your various web pages.
- Create an internal linking strategy. An internal linking strategy involves linking to other internal website pages in content such as your blog posts. This gives search engine crawlers an easy way to navigate your content and see how different pages relate to one another.
- Ensure your page structure is organized hierarchically. A streamlined, logical page structure offers a better visitor experience while making it easier for page crawlers to access and inventory your content.
Making your website SEO-optimized allows you to grow your organic traffic without spending any of your marketing dollars.
5. Reach all Audience Members with Accessible Content
A fully optimized nonprofit website is an accessible one. That means that the website is usable and understandable by all audience members, no matter their age, ability, or device they’re using to connect.
Prioritizing accessibility ensures you aren’t unintentionally leaving out any prospective supporters from being able to engage with your content or forms, such as your volunteer registration page or online donation form.
The best nonprofit websites take specific steps to offer a more accessible experience, including:
- Including descriptive alt text for images and captions for videos.
- Ensuring sufficient colour contrast between foreground and background.
- Using hierarchical headings to structure content.
- Avoiding flashing or strobing elements.
- Offering multiple language options.
By incorporating these accessibility elements, you’ll create a better user experience for all website visitors. A better user experience contributes to better SEO results, as well, meaning there are multiple reasons to emphasize accessibility in your website optimization efforts!
As you can see, an optimized website can take your nonprofit’s digital marketing efforts to new heights by expanding your audience and opening new engagement channels. Be sure to incorporate the tips mentioned above to help with the optimization process, or work with a website design agency. Professional creative agencies can help manage your website redesign project to ensure your website hits all the right notes and is fully optimized for engaging visitors.
About the Author – Ryan Felix
Ryan is a co-founder of Loop: Design for Social Good who brings a strong intuition and insight to create bold, creative & impactful websites. Ryan has led design studios in Toronto and New York using his knowledge of Human Centred Design to increase meaningful conversions and design enjoyable web experiences.