As a non-profit organization, your website is ground zero for communication with donors, volunteers & the community.
Unfortunately, many non-profit websites tend to be neglected as organizations function on thinning operational budgets.
When it comes to websites, however, a little bit of TLC goes a long way. Here are some of the most common non-profit web design mistakes that, once mitigated, can help to boost donations, volunteer participation and community engagement.
5 Non-Profit Web Design Mistakes to Avoid
- Not Catering to Your Stakeholders
For most non-profit organizations, the website attracts a variety of stakeholders, including donors, volunteers, partners and the community at large. Before you start a website design, it’s helpful to understand the different types of visitors coming to the site and each of their needs. If the website is not relevant to the needs and concerns of each of those visitors, then they won’t stay on the site, and you may miss out on important connections.
A lot of for-profit businesses make the mistake of thinking every web visitor to their site is ready to buy and contact their company. Non-profit organizations sometimes make the same mistake, expecting every web visitor to donate on the site.
However, you may have visitors with equally important goals. The California Paramedic Foundation website is a great example of providing information for different visitors with specific resources for paramedic professionals, partners, and donors. By understanding your audience, you can structure the website and design in order to meet & engage all the critical stakeholders for your non-profit.
- Failing to Demonstrate Credibility
When someone comes to your site for the first time, they are subconsciously looking for signs that this is a credible organization. That’s why building credibility & trust is one of the most important aspects of an effective website.
Non-profit websites sometimes forget to display these visual signs of trust and messaging in a prominent place on the home page. If you fail to establish trust with web visitors in the first few seconds and they are not familiar with your organization, then they’ll most likely leave the site before taking any action.
There are several ways to demonstrate credibility on your website. You can showcase the amount of money that you’ve raised in donations as well as testimonials from partners, the community and any organizations that you are affiliated with.
You can also build trust and credibility with web visitors by sharing the latest information about your current projects or programs and providing details about your organization’s board and board members. On a website, you only have a few seconds to engage a web visitor and promote trust, so make use of those seconds with well-placed demonstrations of credibility.
- Vague Web-Based Value Proposition
Having a vague value proposition is another common issue on non-profit websites. A web-based value proposition is a succinct message in the top part of the website home page and it should state who you are, who you serve and what sets your organization apart.
Although the value proposition may draw inspiration from your mission statement, it shouldn’t be a full paragraph. On a website, you only have a few seconds to communicate who you are and who you serve to a web visitor. Today, web visitors tend to quickly scroll and scan the content on a website page and they won’t take the time to read several paragraphs. Having a clear value proposition will help you engage web visitors on the home page and keep them on the site.
Another common problem is that the value proposition is vague and doesn’t adequately communicate what sets your organization apart from others. There are probably other non-profit organizations that also serve the same community as your organization, so you need to define some type of differentiator.
- Lack of Calls to Action & Donate Buttons
Online donations are a critical aspect to any non-profit website. A lot of websites make the mistake of hiding the donation button or making it a confusing process to submit a donation on the site. The site should have clear calls to action, such as a Donate button in the top navigation or in a prominent place on each page. Calls to action on a website help guide web visitors to the proper path.
An effective non-profit website not only needs to prompt online donations, but it also needs to guide other stakeholders to the right action. On key pages of the website, you’ll want to add calls to action to guide each visitor to the right goal.
For example, Greyhound Adoption Center, a non-profit dedicated to rescuing & rehabilitating greyhounds, has several calls to action on their website to donate, adopt a greyhound and volunteer. Throughout the site, the message and calls to action on the web pages guides visitors to key steps.
For general supporters and partners, you may want to offer a newsletter sign-up form to gather visitors’ email addresses. This is a great way to then follow up and share the latest news and events with your benefactors and community.
- Outdated Design & Lack of Information
Having an outdated website in terms of design and content can create a poor impression of your organization. Today, most people search online for a business or organization prior to contacting them. Therefore, the website often establishes the first impression of your organization.
If the website design looks outdated and there are old dates and incorrect information on the site, then web visitors may think the organization is no longer active. When investing in a website redesign of the non-profit website, try to work with a well-established web design team who can implement the latest design and technology trends.
As a non-profit, it can be a challenge to stay on top of every aspect of the site with limited resources. But updating a website doesn’t have to be expensive. One way to minimize the cost is to build the website on a content management system like WordPress. With a WordPress website, you can easily update the text, photos and videos on the website without needing a developer to make changes.