Nonprofit Web Design: 5 Key Elements to Elevate Your Site

Your nonprofit’s website serves many purposes, like educating visitors about your cause, facilitating online donations, and much more.

Effective nonprofit website design can be a challenge, but the payoff is well worth the hard work. Just ask any of our clients at DNL OmniMedia, and they’re sure to tell you that a strong website can be the backbone of your online presence and contribute to long-term fundraising success.

What goes into an excellent nonprofit website? We’re glad you asked! Here, we’ll break down 6 crucial elements that can turn a good website into a great one:

  1. An optimized online donation form
  2. A real-time fundraising thermometer
  3. Targeted landing pages
  4. A user-friendly matching gift tool
  5. Cohesive nonprofit branding

Let’s start with one of the most important features you can’t miss on your site: a well-designed donation form.


1. An optimized online donation form

Fundraising is a top priority for most (if not all) nonprofits, and having a way to accept online gifts is essential.

The first step to building a strong donation form is to find the right online giving software. Depending on the size of your organization and your technology setup, you might integrate a standalone giving tool with your site or use the form-building capabilities of your nonprofit CRM.

Either way, make sure you’re able to use your online donation software to do all of the following:

  • Integrate key donor data. If your donation form is integrated with your CRM, the data you collect will automatically flow to your donor records. If your forms aren’t connected to your CRM, you’ll have to manually import data, taking up valuable staff time.
  • Enable recurring giving. Make it easy for supporters to instantly sign up to become repeat contributors. Add an option to make your donor’s gift recurring on a monthly or yearly basis. You can even try an interrupter that will try to upgrade their one-time gift to a monthly donation right at the time that they process it.
  • Make donors feel secure. If your donors feel that their personal or credit card data is not secure in any way, they will not donate. It’s important to find a donation software that is PCI-compliant. Including secure certificates on your donation form can actually help increase online conversion rates!

Don’t overwhelm your website visitors with too much on your online donation form.

For each question, ask yourself, “What will we do with this information?” If you aren’t sure, you probably don’t need to ask it. Remember: you can use Google Analytics and Tag Manager to track where your donors are coming from (in most cases). Leave that question off your form.


2. A real-time fundraising thermometer

Donors enjoy feeling like they are part of your community, working towards a common fundraising goal. Be transparent in showing them how much you have raised to date for a particular campaign and how far you have by incorporating a real-time fundraising thermometer.

If you include a thermometer on your site, make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Pull donation information from all sources. You may need to work with a technology consultant who can integrate your site with your fundraising software so all donations (including online gifts, text gifts, and more) count toward your goal.
  • Set (and communicate) a clear goal. The fundraising thermometer concept relies on having an established end goal in mind for your campaign. Make sure your supporters know exactly how much you need to raise and what these funds will accomplish.
  • Encourage donors to share the thermometer. Every time a supporter makes a gift, encourage them to post the thermometer on social media or send it to friends via email. Include a template they can follow and a link to the campaign page so sharing is simple.

To learn more about the benefits of fundraising thermometers (and some tricks to use them effectively), check out Snowball’s guide here.


3. Targeted landing pages

If attracting new supporters to your cause is a priority, your organization can utilize resources like Google AdWords Grants to drive more traffic to your site.

However, whether you’re investing in paid ads through Google Grants or not, optimizing your site for search is a key move for any nonprofit. One easy way to make sure your site is found through search engines is to create targeted landing pages around your core efforts and opportunities.

With the help of your web designer or consulting firm, create dedicated pages for each of your most important key terms — that is, those terms that you want users to associate with your site.

Having one core page per keyword (or search term) makes it easier for search engines to determine which page to rank, rather than attempting to show multiple pages for a single search query.

As you’re deciding which core pages to build, optimize, or run ads for, keep your nonprofit goals in mind. For example, you might create landing pages for:

  • Your volunteer sign-up form
  • Your donation form for a specific campaign
  • An ongoing community project
  • An upcoming fundraising event

If you do take advantage of Google Grants, you can also make these landing pages part of your AdWords strategy by using them as sitelink extensions. For more on that and other ad strategies, check out this post from DNL OmniMedia.


4. A user-friendly matching gift tool

There’s no easier way to extend your fundraising potential than to promote matching gift opportunities to your supporters.

Through matching gift programs, businesses double gifts made by their employees to charitable organizations. These corporate giving initiatives can lead to major fundraising increases, but many nonprofit donors don’t even know these programs exist, much less how to participate in them.

To solve that problem, all you need to do is integrate a matching gift search tool onto your website. These user-friendly widgets allow donors to quickly search for their employer within a matching gift database and discover what corporate giving programs they’re eligible for.

Here’s how to do it:

  • First, find a matching gift tool vendor. We recommend searching for a tool that’s easy to embed on your site and doesn’t require too much custom development.
  • Next, place the tool on key locations on your website. This could include your ways to give page, a dedicated corporate giving page, or even the donation form itself.
  • Finally, promote the tool! Send out an email blast letting donors know how easily they can search for their employer and find out if they’re eligible for matched gifts.

Because matching gift tools are so easy to use for both nonprofits and donors, there’s really no downside to including this element in your web design. Learn more by checking out this guide to matching gifts from the experts at Double the Donation!


5. Cohesive nonprofit branding

In many cases, your website is the only means of interaction that your donors will have with your organization. It’s important that your website is a positive reflection of your brand.

Not only does effective branding make your organization more easily recognizable to the public (which is vital for raising awareness for your cause), but a good brand also builds trust with your site visitors and supporters.

Your nonprofit’s brand should extend to every facet of your organization, from live events you host to fundraising letters that you send. As the face of your nonprofit’s online presence, your website can play a major role in establishing your branding, too.

Here are a few simple — but effective — ways to reinforce your brand throughout your site:

  • Standardize your color scheme and typography. Consistent color and font choice should demonstrate your organization’s tone. Plus, a clean appearance is much easier on your visitors’ eyes than a wide range of colors and multiple font faces.
  • Put some thought into your logo. You’ll be including your logo on every page of your site (preferably in the top navigation or page header), so consider what your logo says about your cause. Work with a designer or nonprofit consultant to create an image that doesn’t just take up space on the homepage, but actually reflects who you are!
  • Ensure your donation forms match your brand. Your donors need to trust that your online donation forms are secure, and branding can make or break that trust. Use online giving software with customization options, or work one-on-one with a consultant who can configure a form that fits seamlessly with the rest of your pages.

Developing a brand for your organization is a lasting decision, so think critically when evaluating how your brand fits into your site design. You want your site to reiterate who your organization is and how you impact the world around you — your brand is a big part of that!

When it comes to creating a strong website, your nonprofit has a lot to consider.

Your layout, content, branding, and software integrations can all contribute to an exceptional site, but you need to know what your organization’s goals are for your website before diving into a relaunch or redesign.

If you need a little help assessing your website’s areas for improvement, look for an experienced nonprofit technology consulting firm (like TeamDNL) to lead the way. The right consultant can help your nonprofit develop a more strategic website that’s powerful, beautiful, and helps you accomplish all of your organization’s goals.

Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together, DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.



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