7 Ways Nonprofit Web Design Can Drive Donor Engagement

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Your nonprofit’s website serves a wide array of purposes. From accepting online donations to promoting current campaigns and upcoming projects and events, your website is an important resource for your supporters.

Many nonprofits view their website one-dimensionally— simply as a one-stop-shop to convert visitors into donors. While it definitely serves that purpose, failing to see your website as a greater resource leaves much of its potential behind.

Your website provides an ongoing means of communication and connection with your audience.   And that’s why you need to focus on a strategic website plan that can help you engage donors over time.

A strategic plan for non-profit web design includes the following:

  1. Highlighting your nonprofit’s mission.
  2. Providing educational resources.
  3. Facilitating seamless data capture.
  4. Promoting recurring donations.
  5. Granting access to users on-the-go.
  6. Showcasing multiple forms of support.
  7. Inspiring visitors to connect through multiple platforms.

Follow along to discover how you, with the help of your nonprofit website builder, can optimize your website for donor engagement.

  1. Highlight your nonprofit’s mission.

Whether providing meals to the hungry, sheltering animals in need or supplying children with reading material, your nonprofit was founded for a specific purpose. First and foremost, design your website in a way that highlights this mission at the forefront!

There are two easy ways to design your website with your mission at the forefront:

  • Create a dedicated page for your mission statement. You should reiterate your nonprofit’s purpose throughout your site, but it’s also important to have a centralized place to explain why your mission matters. Keep your content concise and place relevant calls-to-action (such as a Get Involved button) at the bottom of the page.
  • Use multimedia elements to showcase your beneficiaries. Adding photos and videos of your nonprofit in action can make it easier for your website visitors to develop an emotional connection with the individuals you’re serving. Plus, high-quality images and other graphic elements can break up your text and keep visitors interested.

Web Design Tip: It’s easy to get caught up in all the possibilities for nonprofit web design. Remember to put your mission front and center on your site so that your cause is always the star of the show. For inspiration on how to highlight your mission, check out the top online fundraising campaigns in this post by Donately.

2. Provide educational resources.

Your organization should strive to be a resource for your community regarding your cause. In addition to placing your mission at the forefront, then, you should establish yourself as experts in the field by providing informative content for your supporters.

Educating your donors on a variety of relevant topics will only help you further your mission.

Not only will in-the-know supporters have a deeper understanding of why their involvement matters, but prospective donors will feel a stronger sense of urgency when they’re educated about the problems your organization seeks to solve.

Here are just a few ways you can use your site to promote education:

  • Keep supporters updated on news in your community by posting links to recent news articles.
  • Write regular (weekly or monthly) blogs that delve into topics that are relevant to your community.
  • Offer downloadable educational resources, such as infographics with recent statistics or one-sheets describing your mission, so visitors can reference this information later on.

When site visitors see your knowledge of your cause, they’ll recognize you as a credible member of your community and feel confident in your ability to use their donations wisely.

Web Design Tip: If you don’t already have one, start a blog or a news feed on your nonprofit site to keep donors in the know about the most relevant topics of discussion in your community. 

3. Facilitate seamless data capture.

So far, we’ve focused on front-end website design changes that can boost supporter engagement. But let’s not forget about the actual back-end development of your website!

You’ll be using your website to collect supporter data through online donation forms, event ticketing and registrations, volunteer sign-ups, and more. You’ll need to make sure that important information flows, seamlessly and securely, into your data management system.

Start by integrating your nonprofit website with your CRM [Customer Relationship Management].

The more you can automate this process, the less time your team will need to spend on manual data entry. Further, with this data cleanly filed in your CRM, the more information you’ll have on hand to tailor your engagement and stewardship strategy.

Web Design Tip: Most nonprofit CRMs have built-in online donation capabilities, but you’ll need to double-check to ensure that all of the data you collect is correctly filed into your database. Depending on how customized or complex your online forms are, such as if you’re using a robust solution like Blackbaud CRM, you might want to consider working with a nonprofit technology consultant to facilitate this step.

4. Promote recurring donations.

Recurring gifts are the most straightforward way that donors can sustain their engagement with your nonprofit over time. They provide regular, reliable funding to your organization and remove the mental work of submitting multiple donations for your donors.

Unfortunately, many organizations struggle to prioritize regular giving in communicating with constituents. The easiest way to combat that right now is with strategic nonprofit web design:

  • Place a recurring gift option on your donation form. Many donors don’t commit to regular giving simply because they don’t know how! Show them that they don’t have to go out of their way to become a recurring giver; all they have to do is tick a box on your donation page to confirm an automatic gift. 
  • Provide options for recurring gifts. Empower donors to give on their own terms. In addition to a recurring gift checkbox, provide several options for how often your donors can make their recurring gift, including monthly, quarterly, or yearly. 
  • Add a page demonstrating the effects of regular giving. Don’t let your recurring gifts promotion start and end on your donation form. Instead, dedicate an entire page to the power of regular gifts! Let donors know why these gifts matter by providing testimonials from beneficiaries, infographics, and more. 

Of course, whether or not your nonprofit can accept online recurring donations depends on the type of fundraising software and payment processor you’re using. Considerations such as government security regulations and card processing fees can make a huge difference.

Web Design Tip: You’re unlikely to be able to change these processing factors once you choose a fundraising software and payment processor, so do your research before investing. Learn more about your payment processing options by reading this guide from Soapbox Engage.

5. Grant access to users on-the-go.

Smartphone use is here to stay, with 1 in 4 donors using the devices to discover nonprofits they were previously unaware of. Responsive web design ensures that site visitors can tap into your website no matter what kind of screen they’re viewing it through.

You can guarantee a usable site on any screen by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Use a vertical layout for easy scrolling.
  • Keep your site’s design minimal by only including necessary elements.
  • Make your navigation simple and straightforward, with one dropdown menu.
  • Hide elements like HTML tables or large graphics on small screens.
  • Use a large, legible font and avoid small buttons that will force a user to pinch their screen to zoom in.

In addition to your site’s content, you should make sure your online donation channels are mobile-ready too. 

Take advantage of mobile-responsive online donation forms (or event registration forms, eCommerce platforms, or other giving methods), and consider utilizing a text-to-give software for even easier mobile giving. 

Web Design Tip: Test your website on both desktop, mobile phone, and tablet to make sure the page works on all devices. Further, choose an online fundraising software that was created with mobile users in mind. 

6. Showcase multiple forms of support.

You’ll be using your site to collect gifts via online donation form. But, if that’s the only method of participation that your website encourages, you might be alienating those visitors who’d prefer to show their support through different means.

To make sure you’re engaging as many audiences as possible, include a Ways to Give page that highlights a variety of methods for involvement. This includes:

  • Volunteering.
  • Advocating.
  • Attending upcoming events.
  • Submitting matching gift requests.
  • Organizing planned gifts.
  • Making in-kind gifts.
  • Purchasing merchandise.
  • Hosting a peer-to-peer fundraising page.

Depending on your organization’s needs and capabilities, some of these methods of support will be more or less relevant. For instance, a healthcare organization or nonprofit hospital may not have as much need for volunteers as a food bank.

Web Design Tip: Customize your Ways to Give page to feature the engagement methods best suited for your organization. For example, if you’re planning to host many fundraising events, strategically build your website in a way that allows for easy inclusion of an event calendar directly on your engagement page.

7. Inspire visitors to connect through multiple platforms and in-person.

You could design the most engaging website on the internet, and one thing would still hold true— eventually, your site visitors will close out of their browsers and continue their regular online activity.

To make sure supporters keep your nonprofit in mind long after they close that browser tab, offer them plenty of opportunities to engage with you across the internet (and in person)!

On your website, place links to other means of engagement including:

  • Social media profiles, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other platforms you’re using.
  • A sign-up form to receive your email newsletter.
  • Any crowdfunding or peer-to-peer campaign pages you, or other supporters, are running.
  • Your registration pages and calendar of upcoming events.

Simply making it easier for supporters to get involved or explore further opportunities can drastically boost engagement. Check out this success story on the LA Center of Photography’s most recent event for a great example of how smarter registration tools improve everyone’s experience – guests and staff alike.

For easy an easy step that any organization can take, be sure to clearly display your organization’s contact information so site visitors can reach out to your team directly as well. Give users the next steps for staying in touch with your organization and make long-term engagement easier for your supporters while increasing your donor retention rates.

Web Design Tip: Keep your nonprofit’s online momentum going strong by providing clear paths to other forms of online engagement, including social media, email, donation opportunities, and event registration. 

Your nonprofit website is a powerful donor engagement tool if you know how to maximize its potential!

Now that you know all that your website can do, it’s time to improve your own design strategy. Reach out to a top nonprofit web design firm, such as those in this article, to see how you can make these best practices a reality in your design. 


Guest Post provided by:

Carl Diesing, Managing Director – Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.

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