According to the Nonprofit Handbook written by Gary M. Grobman, “a nonprofit organization (NPO) or not-for-profit organization is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends”. In today’s time, a NPO just like commercial businesses, has to walk hand-in-hand with the latest technologies for dissemination of relevant information about themselves as well as about the cause they stand for. This undoubtedly starts with the right website.
Below are given the points not-to-be missed while designing an NPO website. These factors if taken care of will not only increase the chances of a NPO website being discovered on search engines and social media, but also would bring an influx of regular visitors and eventually volunteers/donors/personnel.
1. Let the website’s theme be ‘Compassion’: The foundation of any NPO lies in a cause they support. This could be literacy, environment, energy, education etc.
- An NPO’s website foremost should clearly depict this cause and their mission statement.
Images/compelling videos/graphs/charts used on the website to educate people about their cause should be able to evoke compassion and compel the visitors to at least stay longer on the website.
2. Bring focus to the Cheerleaders: Any NPO website should bring out its cheerleaders before its readers and potential followers.
- A section on the website should focus on the successful projects and events organized by the NPO.
Testimonials by industry leaders, donors and volunteers should be included in form of videos and text.
Profiles of key personnel, board of directors and industry- & market- giants associated with the NPO, should be a part of the website, under a separate section.
The companies that partner with the NPO or which support the NPO through sponsorships and funds, should be listed on the NPO’s website under ‘Partnerships’.
3. Be Inspirational: A big contribution to any nonprofit is from the numerous people who devote their time, effort and money. These volunteers usually resonate and relate to the mission of the NPO. Hence, their website should be volunteer-friendly.
The message from past volunteers should speak about the joy of volunteering. This would keep the existing base of volunteers motivated as well as would attract other people to come forward in any form they can.
The website should present different ways in which someone can volunteer with them. A separate page should be devoted mentioning these options, which readers can choose from and contribute according to their convenience.
4. Being Donor-philic: Any NPO is highly dependent on funds raised at various events or the generous donations by their donor base. It is of critical importance that their website asks for ‘Donation’ in very simple form. A few things to be remembered are given below-
The donation process should be a single-step. Just a click of button and the website visitor should be directed to the donation form.
The donation form should not ask for unnecessary and too much information (this may put off the interested donor).
The user should not be asked to create an account before he can donate.
After the donation, make the donor feel welcome and his donation should be appreciated by giving him a choice to share his generosity on social media profiles like Facebook/Twitter/Google+ etc. This would be the NPO’s way of thanking him as well as a way to pull more donors from his network.
5. Come across as Informational/educational: Any NPO website should be seen as a storehouse of information concerning the cause they support.
Have a ‘News/latest updates’ section where latest information from the concerned field can be flashed.
The news items or pieces of information can be elaborated on a blog post. This would make the audience keep returning to the website to keep themselves abreast as well as to learn more.
The NPO can have a forum where the queries of readers can be welcome and responded to. This would help the NPO establish itself as experts in their area.
6. Feel proud in being ‘Shareable’: The website as a whole and every page/post should have social media sharing buttons. This will increase followership as well as the visibility on search engines.
5. Be consistent in branding: Branding is all about having loyal followers. Any company/product/NPO becomes a brand after a series of regular and consistent marketing efforts.
- The logos/fonts/colors used on the website should be consistent with the other promotional material used by the NPO. This would make it easily recognizable and also, will stay in memory longer.
The social media sharing buttons should be displayed in a way that they blend with the entire look and feel of the website.
6. Keep it simple & original: Originality and simplicity are the key to any website’s success.
- Right from the textual content to the images/videos should be original. These should not be copied. Being original is the sign that the nonprofit is really concerned about the cause they support. Also, the photos should not be stock photos. More people donate to real pictures than to stock photos.
- The website should not be cluttered with loads of information presented in bright colors. The look should be compassionate, professional and human.
- The websites should always prominently display ‘Contact Us’ form, and wherever possible, a contact number should be given. Very often people prefer to give a quick call rather than writing a long email.
Shaifali Gupta is the founder of Media Meridian, an Internet Marketing firm. Starting with an MBA & MS from Europe, she is now living her dream of writing. As a professional content writer, she writes about Technology/Ecommerce/Social Media. She has worked with nonprofits in Silicon Valley and understands their needs for technology and social media.