Maximizing Your Nonprofit Website’s Impact: 5 Design Tips

Ryan Felix

June 20, 2023

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.

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Your nonprofit’s website is a key aspect of your fundraising strategy. This is true not only in a direct sense, as you can collect online and mobile donations through your donation page, but also indirectly. Both new and returning supporters will visit your website to learn more about your mission, impact, and upcoming activities where they can get involved.

To make the most of your website as a fundraising and communication tool, it’s important to highlight your mission and engage your audience. Draw supporters in from the second they land on your site, instill a sense of trust and credibility, and leave them feeling inspired to take action.

In this guide, you’ll learn five strategies to design or redesign your nonprofit’s website for maximum impact, including how to:

  1. Incorporate Your Organization’s Branding
  2. Craft Compelling Content
  3. Create an Intuitive Navigation Experience
  4. Prioritize Accessibility
  5. Connect Your Website to Your Other Marketing Materials

If you’re just getting started with web design, creating an impactful website may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider partnering with a nonprofit web design agency that can answer any questions you may have and help you adapt these tips to your organization’s unique needs and goals. Let’s dive in!

1. Incorporate Your Organization’s Branding

You’re probably familiar with the idea of branding, as it’s how for-profit companies differentiate their products to increase consumer sales. However, branding is also important for nonprofits to communicate with supporters. While you may not be selling goods or services, you’re still selling something—your impact.

When designing your website, incorporate the following aspects of your nonprofit’s brand:

  • Colour palette. Most brands have one or two primary colours and a few secondary shades that complement the primary ones in their palette. Colour psychology also applies heavily to branding, so make sure to choose primary colours that align with your organization’s values and personality. For example, green is a favourite colour of environmental nonprofits due to its association with nature and growth.
  • Typography. To add visual variety to your website, consider choosing two brand fonts: one for headings and one for body text. However, don’t use more than three typefaces to avoid a cluttered look, and make sure the fonts you choose are legible.
  • Logo. Your logo combines your brand colour palette and typography into an icon that makes your nonprofit instantly recognizable. To ensure supporters remember your logo, place it in the top left corner of every page of your website.
  • Messaging. Branding extends beyond visuals to the way you write the content on your website. Consider what tone, wording, and other stylistic choices will best communicate who your organization is and what it stands for to supporters.

To ensure your branding remains consistent across your entire website, create a brand guide detailing these different elements and providing examples of how they’re used. Treat this guide as a living document—it should be easy to update as your brand evolves. This way, anyone inside or outside your organization who works on your website will have an up-to-date reference as they fine-tune the design and add new content.

2. Craft Compelling Content

The core purpose of all of the content on your website, from your mission statement to blog posts to testimonials, is to showcase your organization’s impact. To make your content interesting and inspiring, try these strategies:

  • Write concisely. People tend to skim more when they read on a screen than on paper, so it’s best to keep your paragraphs short and break up longer content with subheadings. This way, audiences can get an idea of what your content is about in a few seconds and decide whether they want to dive deeper into a particular topic.
  • Include multimedia elements. Photos, infographics, audio recordings, and videos allow supporters to experience your content in new, memorable ways. Consider making some of your content interactive, such as including a relevant poll at the end of a video or adding clickable points to an infographic, to increase engagement with it.
  • Incorporate storytelling. Stories help create an emotional connection to the facts and data on your website. For example, if an animal shelter included a statistic on its website that 200 dogs were adopted from the organization in the past year, audiences would probably be impressed. But sharing the story of how one of those dogs was injured when it came to the shelter and received medical care before going to its forever home is more likely to compel supporters to take action.

The longer audiences stay on your website, the more likely they are to get involved with your mission. Crafting your content carefully helps keep them on your site and brings them back to it again and again.

3. Create an Intuitive Navigation Experience

Another design aspect that helps keep supporters on your website is the user experience. If your site is easy to navigate, audiences can quickly find the information they’re looking for and dig deeper into it if they choose.

Your main navigation bar should guide visitors to your website’s core pages, such as the homepage, about page, and mission-related resources. Then, you can use subtopics and call-to-action buttons to direct them to additional pages of interest, like sign-up forms and information about specific programs. 

To help organize these pages logically, Loop’s guide to nonprofit website best practices recommends conducting card sorting and tree tests. In card sorting, volunteers group various subtopics into categories, while tree testing asks them to find information by clicking through a prototype version of your navigation bar.

4. Prioritize Accessibility

Your nonprofit’s website should not only be easy to navigate but also provide a positive user experience for all audiences. Accessible web design ensures that supporters with disabilities can derive maximum value from your site.

Some essential ways you can design your website for accessibility include:

  • Ensuring sufficient contrast between text and background colours.
  • Adding alternative text to photos and graphics.
  • Providing closed captioning or transcripts for audio and video content.

Having an accessible website not only shows that your organization prioritizes inclusivity—it can be a legal issue as well. Before launching your website, review a guide like the WCAG 2.1 checklist to make sure it complies with industry accessibility standards.

5. Connect Your Website to Your Other Marketing Materials

According to Double the Donation’s guide to nonprofit marketing, your website will be most impactful if it’s one part of a unified, multichannel communication strategy. To help you accomplish this, here are some ways you can connect your site to other marketing materials:

  • Email marketing. Introduce an upcoming event or volunteer opportunity to supporters in an email blast, then direct them to your website to learn more and complete your registration form.
  • Direct mail. When sending fundraising asks through the mail, include an easy-to-type link or QR code to your online donation page in addition to the traditional return envelope so supporters can choose how they want to donate.
  • Social media. Add icons linking your organization’s social media profiles in the footer of your website, so supporters who discover your nonprofit through your site can stay in the loop as you share regular updates.
  • Digital ads. Both Microsoft and Google have ad grant programs that allow eligible nonprofits to appear in sponsored search results and drive additional traffic to their websites at no cost.

As you develop your multichannel marketing strategy, ensure that your branding, content, and accessibility guidelines remain consistent across all of the platforms you use. This helps tie your marketing materials together and make your organization more recognizable.

A well-designed nonprofit website can elevate your marketing and fundraising strategies by effectively engaging your audience. An intuitive user experience, high-quality and accessible content, and a unified brand all work together to engage supporters and help retain them long-term.

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