It’s true to say that all the rules and guidelines for creating a great business website are identical for a nonprofit. However a nonprofit organization has a critical objective to meet, without which it cannot survive: to encourage donations and volunteers to help in its good works. A nonprofit website must be designed with these in mind - it must explain what the nonprofit does; it must persuade people to make donations or to volunteer; and it must be seen as absolutely trustworthy and above board, especially with regard to financial matters.
Check out Oxfam America http://www.oxfamamerica.org/ This is a fabulous nonprofit website that is well laid out, easy on the eye, informative, concise and has clear call-to-action buttons. There are three key areas covered off nicely on the navigation bar and you wouldn’t be going far wrong if you included these sections in your own nonprofit website:
- Who are we? This is indeed the nub of the matter especially for a less well known nonprofit. Clearly explain who you are and how you came into existence.
- What we do. Again no argument with this one. You need to get your message across with entertaining content so your readers fully understand how you achieve your aims.
- What you can do? Now you’ve explained your objectives, the reader needs to see how they can help either by donating or volunteering. Ensure the content and call to action buttons direct the reader through some basic steps so they can donate or make an enquiry about volunteer options.
Another great nonprofit website is Make a Wish International http://worldwish.org/en/index.php which tears at the heart strings with its aim of granting the wishes of children with life threatening diseases. Not only is it one thousand percent clear about its origins and its objectives, it also has a very clear ‘Make a Donation Button’. It proudly recounts stories of how it has granted the often simple wishes of dying children. But instead of making readers feel morose, the content is so well written, it is positively uplifting. This excellent content is not only interesting, it persuades readers to make a difference by making a donation.
Another important aspect that Make a Wish International confronts head-on is the matter of money. On the homepage, there is also a nice visual piechart entitled ‘How we Spend your Donation’ and full financial reports are viewable via click throughs located in the footer. Not so hard to find that you will miss them, but not the most important message that the organization wishes to get across. All-in-all ideally placed.
Both websites also display the well known symbols to click through to their very active social media pages: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Youtube. A good nonprofit website should clearly link to its social media pages which is where all the quick updates and news are proclaimed to be seen by all its fans. Both Oxfam America and Make a Wish International make full use of social media and many private businesses could take a leaf out of their book with regard to this social media strategy.
So if you have a nonprofit website, follow all the normal rules of website design but look at other well designed and well structured nonprofits for inspiration such as those mentioned above. These are of course huge organizations which have to have a powerful and effective website. But even if you have a much more modest budget, you can still create a persuasive and effective nonprofit website - use clear content, reassure your visitors that you are putting their money to good use with financial information and make it as easy as possible to process a person’s donation.