Why Every Nonprofit Needs A Robust Website

It’s no secret that every nonprofit should have a website. It’s a necessary tool for folks to learn about your services, donate, or volunteer. The tricky part is that website trends are continually evolving, and everyone is on edge about potential cyber threats. It’s so important to make sure your website is up to date with the newest security updates and design to ensure that users have a positive experience. Your website could be the first impression to a potential client or donor, and you don’t want to miss the mark.

My goal when working with a client is to make sure their new website is accessible for the donor, client, and volunteer.

To do that, these are my recommendations to make sure their website is as robust as possible.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying these are the only things your website should have (and they shouldn’t), but they are the critical tools needed to increase donor, client, and volunteer engagement.

nonprofit website essentials

Your Donation Page

The biggest perk of having a website is that someone can donate to your organization at any time. They no longer need to wait for your annual appeal or fundraiser. There are a few tools you’ll need in place to make sure your potential donor has a satisfying experience.

An Intuitive Donation Form

How many options do you want to give them? Can they designate where their gift goes? Take all that into consideration when determining your website form.

A Payment Method

My go-to is setting up sites with PayPal integration. There are fees, but it works well and is a trusted company.

SSL Certificate

You need an SSL certificate for several reasons, it ensures your website is protected which in turn leads to better search rankings but more importantly lets your donor know it is safe to input their credit card info on your site. If your hosting plan doesn’t come with a free certificate, you can usually purchase one for around $40 a year. I recommend all my clients host through Dreamhost as their small hosting plan is free and comes with a free SSL certificate.

Your Program and Services Page

Your services need to be clearly outlined on your website. This way, someone looking for help will know if you can help and paints a better picture for a donor of where their money is going. Beef up your services page by including:

An Intake Form

It allows the person to seek help immediately and eliminates that initial step of having to call, visit, or type up an email.

Impact Statistics and Testimonials

Sharing data allows donors to see your impact and know you’re making a difference and clients to know you’re legit and can reduce any stigma associated with your cause.

Eligibility and Intake Process

Again, the ultimate goal of your website should be to make things as easy as possible for the user. If someone is coming to your site for services, make it as easy as possible for them to determine if they are a good fit for your organization So that they don’t become frustrated and end up seeking no services at all. Consider an FAQ section or page if you have complex program requirements.

Your Volunteer Page

Volunteer Form

Like your service intake form, it allows users to take action immediately. Depending on your volunteer recruitment process, it can be as simple as a general interest form or more ideally, the actual volunteer application.

Volunteer Opportunities

Don’t just say volunteer opportunities are available, list out the specific opportunities you’re currently looking for and any particular requirements.

Volunteer Impact Stories

Your website is your place to share your story. Draw volunteers in with testimonial stories that motivate, inspire, and allow them to see themselves in that role.

Your Contact Page

Contact Us Form

If you haven’t caught on, I love forms on a website. They are a quick call to action and leave no excuse for the user to not reach out to your organization. So obviously, if they haven’t filled out your donation form, intake form or volunteer form on your other pages, you’ll want a catch-all form on your contact page. Make sure your form is set up with reCAPTCHA to block spammers.

Include a drop-down field for the user to select why they’re reaching out.

Your contact information

Don’t just leave it up to the form to do all the work. Include your phone numbers, staff directory, address and an email in the event the user would prefer an alternative contact method that the form.

Bonus Tip: Keep it simple

I’m a huge advocate for making things easier for my clients and not create extra work for them. You’re busy, and if you’re managing your website on top of your other duties, it’s essential your website doesn’t need a lot of content updating. Two things I recommend to help with this are:

Only have as much detail as you can keep updated. Blog and event calendars are great tools for your users to learn more about what you do, but they (especially a blog) can be an overwhelming task. Before you commit to either, make sure you have the time to keep them fresh and updated. Users don’t want to see blog posts from over a year ago or an old event calendar page.

To combat wanting to keep your web visitors informed of recent happenings, I recommend putting things on autopilot and include a social media feed on your homepage. More people will be looking at your social profiles, so it’s essential to prioritize fresh content lives there, especially if you can embed it to your website. Depending on how you’re creating your site, this might not be included in your basic theme and maybe a small additional purchase, but it’s worth it.

In summary

Creating a website can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be scary. If you take anything away from this post, I hope it is these key things:

  • Make sure your website has an SSL Certificate
  • Make it easy for users to take action with content specific forms on appropriate pages
  • Tell stories and share statistics to inspire volunteers, engage donors, and educate clients about your services.
  • Secure your forms on your website with a reCAPTCHA
  • Don’t overcommit on website maintenance. Only include blogs and event calendars if you can manage them, keep it simple, and integrate your social media feed.

I could keep going about what your website needs to have, but this blog post is really just a primer focusing on web content to really engage donors, clients, and volunteers. Beyond content, it’s crucial your website follows SEO best practices and has regular updates performed. Interested in learning more and how I can help? Give me a holler!

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