10 Must-Have Elements for Nonprofit Websites
You know you cannot undermine the power of a well built website. It’s your most powerful business card, a communication interface between you and your stakeholders. At some point all your donors, partners, volunteers and every person interested in your nonprofit organization will set foot on your website, so you’d better be prepared. I bet you’ve seen awesome websites and terrible ones, so here is a list of essential elements that will set any website on the right path. Adapt them with a top notch design and you’ll catch the eye of any new visitor.
1. Contact page
You want people to contact you? Then provide them the right tools so they can do it. A website without a contact page is a one way communication. You don’t want just to offer information, you want to be reachable and engage with your public, so let them contact you. Don’t limit yourself to simply adding an email address, organize your work and use a contact form. A form building tool usually allows custom email notifications so the messages will arrive to the right person. Be sure to add your phone and physical address. You’ll be surprised how many people still like to snail mail. So don’t prive yourself from an open communication, you’ll never know what wonderful things you can miss by simply not adding all available contact options.
2. “About us” section
Saying a couple of words about your organization will introduce you to new visitors. Answering the “Who are you?” question is one of the most important things your website has to do. This section has to be honest, it has to prove you are truly the right solution for a particular problem and most important it has to build trust. You know what they say about the first impression. Well, your homepage and about page are your most important assets when introducing your nonprofit to someone new.
3. Information for donors
It has been proven that people involved in charity actions feel the need to see the actual outcome of their contribution. That is why being transparent is a great feature for an organization. From general information, to campaign details and constant updates, they are all necessary in order to have a healthy communication strategy in place. Think that the better they get to know your cause the bigger the chances are to get them interested.
4. Online donations system
Don’t forget what your goal is, keep in mind that no matter how great your cause is, without donors it will not have a finality. The constant pursuit for new supporters has to be efficient in order to gain the most with minimum efforts. Hence, having an online donation option available on your website for sure is a smart move. You can use a dedicated service, you can embed your own system or choose an online donation form. Each option has its benefits, research them and decide which is suitable for you.
For awhile now experts have been trying to outline the benefits of having a blog. This direction remains one of the 2014 trends for all the nonprofits that want a complex channel of communication with all their stakeholders as well as a way to steward and engage donors. The perks of having an active blog are tremendous and you’ll see how satisfactory it is to see people reach out to you and appreciate your work.
6. Photos and portfolio
Nothing is as appealing as the visual and you should know that. So besides the awesome graphic design we all hope your website has, make sure it also has pictures with your people, your actions, your results. Maintaining a gallery or campaign portfolio will show your true face. So that all your stakeholders can relate and empathize with your actions. Build compelling visuals and let them do their work, it’s not in vain that people say a photo speaks more than a thousand words. Let your photos tell your story.
7. Social media widget
Having a loop between all your social accounts can increase the online interaction with your supporters as well as help you build your brand awareness. It’s supposed to be simple for someone to connect with you on either platform, so keep them interconnected to assure a smooth flow of navigation. This way chances are your website visitors will leave for another page which is still yours so you won’t lose them.
Individuals look for specific information. A third party validation is a sort of proof that you are committed and you get results. Thus, being able to read personal experiences and impressions will give them all the information they need to convince themselves to take action and involve to support your cause.
9. Volunteer or career opportunities
If you want to gather passionate people around your organization, people who share your dreams and believe in the greater good, let them know you need them. Having a dedicated section with collaboration opportunities is a great chance to show off your organizational culture and to attract the right persons around you. You know how important it is to have a database with potential volunteers in certain critical situations.
10. Newsletter signup
Hope you do have a newsletter and you use it wisely. Having a direct signup for your newsletter on your website is a great way to win new leads and engage your visitors. Try to make the subscription as simple as possible. It’s not effective to ask a person tons of information for a single newsletter signup. An email will suffice and if they have an interest towards your organization they will follow the newsletter and interact with you in future retention efforts.
That’s about it. Ten great elements for a good website for any nonprofit organization. What else would you add or remove from this list?
Laura Iancu, PR Specialist at 123ContactForm
Laura works closely with several nonprofits on matters of online and offline communications. Currently, you can find her trying to bring closer to technology nonprofits all around the world through 123ContactForm, an online form and survey builder. Reach her on Twitter.