A Beginner’s Guide to Effective Nonprofit Website Design

By Morweb, Guest Author

Say you’re chatting with someone in the grocery store about your nonprofit. They express an interest in your work and ask if you have a website they can use to learn more about your mission and submit a donation. You panic—your website has been “under construction” for months, with no end in sight. 

You scramble to explain this to your new potential supporter, encouraging them to keep an eye on your site so that they can donate in the future. Visibly disappointed, they thank you, and you part ways. 

Does this story sound familiar? If your website has been under construction or renovation for a while, you’re likely familiar with the stress that comes from not having this valuable online resource up and running. After all, your website is the central hub for your mission and can be a great resource for your supporters. 

If your lack of tech know-how is holding you back from creating the nonprofit website of your dreams, you’re not alone. Many nonprofit professionals don’t know where to begin when it comes to creating a website. The good news is that you don’t have to be an experienced web designer with expert-level SEO skills to create an effective nonprofit website. 

That’s where this guide comes in. We’ll walk you through four essential steps you can follow to create or revamp your nonprofit’s website:

  1. Invest in a website builder for nonprofits. 

  2. Let your brand guide the aesthetic. 

  3. Provide useful resources and tools. 

  4. Focus on your donation page. 

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to designing an amazing website that you can share with everyone, from strangers in the grocery store to major donors. Let’s get started!
 

1. Invest in a website builder for nonprofits. 

The most important tool to have for designing an effective nonprofit website is an easy-to-use website builder, also known as a content management system (CMS). There are a number of website builders out there to choose from, many of which you’ve probably already heard of or maybe even tried, like WordPress or Drupal. 

Unfortunately, many nonprofits struggle to get the full mileage out of generic platforms like these, as they can require a lot of technical know-how and lack the nonprofit-specific features your organization needs. This is why it’s worthwhile to invest in a website builder built for nonprofits. 

According to Morweb’s roundup of the best nonprofit website builders, here are some of the features you’ll get when you invest in a nonprofit-specific platform: 

  • Affordability

  • Easy to use features

  • Mobile-responsive design

  • Social media integration tools

  • Blogging tools

All of these nonprofit-specific features will help your organization’s marketing initiatives succeed. Explore your options and consider using a website builder that was created with nonprofits in mind.  


2. Let your brand guide the aesthetic.

The look and feel of your website will no doubt be top of mind as you begin designing. Don’t be overwhelmed by the blank slate—your nonprofit already has an aesthetic that you can leverage! 

This aesthetic comes from your brand. Your brand is simply everything that sets your organization apart from other nonprofits, including visual elements. Let’s look at two foundational visual elements that will be critical to your design: 

  • Colors: Colors set the mood of your website, and even relate to your mission! For example, if your nonprofit champions Bengal tiger conservation, it would make sense to have orange and black play a large part in your website’s color scheme. However, make sure you don’t go overboard. Website visitors should focus on your mission and online tools, not the colors of the site. 

  • Visuals: The visuals your nonprofit uses on its website can say a lot about who you are and what you do. In the Bengal tiger conservation example, it would be a great idea to include pictures of tigers on your website. This can draw on supporters’ emotions and encourage visitors to act on what they’re seeing. 

On top of colors and visuals, your nonprofit likely has distinct logos, slogans, and typography, too. Create a brand guide with all branding elements to use on your website. This way, you’ll create a consistent experience as supporters arrive and navigate through your site.
 

3. Provide useful resources and tools. 

Part of building a website that you can maintain is establishing useful tools and resources on your website from the start. Then, use these tools and resources to engage your supporters. 

What specific tools and resources should you offer on your website? Here are some to consider:

  • Information about your mission

  • Blog 

  • Videos and image galleries 

  • Social media live feeds and sharing buttons 

  • Donation page 

Of course, not all of these resources will be useful for every nonprofit’s website. Work with your team to determine what tools your website visitors need access to in order to determine where to put your focus. 


4. Focus on your donation page. 

Your donation page is arguably the most important engagement tool on your nonprofit website. As you design your donation page, think about the donor journey—donors want a process that is fast, simple, and convenient. 

Here are three ways you can deliver an optimal online donation experience: 

  • Brand your donation page so it matches the rest of your website, making the experience of giving more closely tied to your mission. 

  • Keep your donation form short and simple, only asking necessary questions.

  • Partner with a matching gift software provider to embed a matching gift database, empowering your donors to increase the impact of their contributions.

As you refine your donation page, ask a staff member or volunteer to test the page out and report back to you on how it can be improved. This will go a long way in helping you provide a great online donor experience. 

With these tips and a nonprofit-specific website builder, you can create an effective nonprofit website design. 

 

 

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