The Secret Sauce of a Successful Non-profit Website in Uncertain Times

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By Manikuntala Apr 20, 2022
Non-profit and Volunteering
Non-profit and Volunteering

Every nonprofit organization needs a solid online presence to defend its mission, engage new supporters, raise funds, spread awareness, and gather accord for a particular cause. A dynamic nonprofit website is the best way to get recognized and share your story with your target audience anywhere in the world. Whether your goal is to boost online donations, attract volunteers and beneficiaries, or promote a forthcoming campaign, a nonprofit website is a right place to start. 

According to the State of Nonprofit Marketing, “Nonprofit marketers are adapting at a rapid pace as uncertainty continues to shape supporter expectations. 89% have changed their digital engagement strategy.” Out of them, 84% track content engagement, and 76% track customer retention rates as key metrics. These findings imply why a dynamic website is crucial for running a nonprofit successfully.  

What are the key features that make up an outstanding nonprofit website? How can your website serve as a medium to intrigue, inspire, and engage your audiences? This post takes a look at the secret sauce of a successful nonprofit website.

Key Ingredients of a Delightful Nonprofit Website

User-friendly layout

A nonprofit website should be simple, attractive, easy to read, and navigable. Experts at the Forbes Nonprofit Council recommend that a nonprofit website visitor should be able to find a particular resource in less than three clicks. The website’s design should make it more accessible for your visitors and prospects. Several websites hold a vast collection of significant information, which, in most cases, isn’t logically navigable. Split the information in such a way that your users are content with the navigation experience and are able to locate critical information quickly. Incorporate a webchat (chatbot) that offers personalized responses to user queries. This improves repeated website visits. 

Here are a few tips to improve your nonprofit website’s layout:

  • Create a sitemap that logically lists the pages on your website and shows how every page is connected to each other. While building or redesigning your nonprofit website, the sitemap helps you understand how an average viewer is scouting your website. Sitemaps improve your website’s clarity and usability. 
  • List only the most important pages (links) on the main menu. Use the second or third-level drop-down menus if your main pages feature a lot of sub-pages. Categorize and arrange the pages logically. 
  • Showcase important links on all pages. For example, links to donation or fundraising pages should easily catch the visitor’s eye. 
  • Match user expectations. Create a mobile-responsive design. While desktop (or laptop) users prefer a clearly labeled and visible menu on the top right page, mobile users would like to click and expand a hamburger menu (three-lined icon). In either case, the navigation should assist users in locating the right information on your website. Replace ambiguous icons with appropriate text.
  • Integrating search functionality. Allows visitors to quickly discover the information they seek.

Optimize user journey to boost engagement

Sustaining strong donor relationships and developing diverse funding sources are highly important for nonprofit success. With a killer website and a thriving social media presence, nonprofits can effectively engage today’s digital-savvy donors, volunteers, supporters, and beneficiaries. A rightly done nonprofit web design allows you to convert more visitors into donors and drive contributions. Every nonprofit should focus on mapping their donor journey, which narrates how a potential prospect eventually transforms into an official donor and advocates your organization’s mission. A donor journey typically involves the following stages:

  • Awareness: Raise awareness and gain new supporters for your cause by optimizing your website for SEO, updating your website with the latest news, events, and accomplishments, sharing fresh stories and blogs, actively using social media, and creating user personas to clearly understand the types of the audience trying to discover your organization. Publish content on multiple channels and link back each piece of content to your website’s relevant pages. Invest in creating 2 to 4 minutes video clips for YouTube and other platforms to spread your mission far and wide. Maintain a good collection of resources or knowledge base for users to understand more about your nonprofit. Update your knowledge base regularly. Insights such as white papers, infographics, and 5W1H videos can be used for email marketing campaigns.
  • Research: Once the user is aware of your mission, they will do further research to identify whether they want to support your cause and how they can provide support. Update your website regularly by posting valuable content backing your cause and mission. Maintain a good blog to drive more traffic to your website. Add social sharing buttons to boost user engagement via social media. Use your blogs page as an effective engagement tool to share real-life stories and narratives from people who have been directly involved with your organization’s cause. Include testimonials from other donors and specific community members. Create a gallery of photos, case studies, and videos to make your website more engaging. This helps improve your credibility and reach.
  • Decision: As soon as a prospect gets familiar with your organization and wants to partake in your work, they will exhibit some intent, say, make their first gift. Make your donations page easily findable, from anywhere on your website. Display the target action prominently across all marketing content on your website, email, and social media. Include strong Call-to-Actions (CTAs) such as “Donate Now” buttons in a way that catches the user’s eye. A user may feel like making a contribution after reading a heart-touching story. In this case, a relevant CTA can create a powerful online impact. Ensure that your nonprofit website has an accessible UX to expand your supporter base to more prospects. Adopt a stable and powerful CMS platform like Drupal to build a dynamic, easy-to-use, multi-device friendly, and functional nonprofit website. Improve the UX design by offering multi-device support (particularly mobile) and optimizing page-load speed.
  • Appreciation: Every gift or donation made by a donor sets the foundation for a lasting future engagement. Follow up with thank-you letters and automated (personalized) emails describing how the donor’s gift is making a great impact. Provide options for the donor to share their experience on social media. Offer newsletter sign-ups and blog subscriptions to build engagement. Just as you use email campaign metrics to plan the next steps, it’s important to monitor your nonprofit website analytics and social media to discover your target audience (use metrics such as user demographics) and build personalized content.
  • Repeat: The final objective of any nonprofit is to gain recurring donors. While emails, video or voice calls, and direct meetings are great ways to sustain long-term relationships, it’s important to ensure that your website and marketing content are fully up-to-date. Every time the donor checks your website, inspire them with valuable messaging, highlight your most recent accomplishments, welcome feedback, share success stories, and post upcoming event alerts and registration links. Appreciate event registrants as they finish each step and suggest the next actions.         

Secure and convenient payment system

Ensure that your Donate button or link works fine and that payments can be credited online easily and securely. Check if you are notified of the donations received. Verify if your donors are in receipt of appropriate thank you messages and IRS receipts once they donate.  

Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Annual Data Breach Report highlights several nonprofit data breaches (including cyberattacks on YMCA and ICRC) that impacted over 500,000 people. Data breaches can erode donor trust, resulting in the failure of your nonprofit. It’s vital for nonprofit organizations to make a concerted effort to protect their financial information and contact details from data breaches.   

Implement a secure payment processing system for your nonprofit by following these steps:

  • Integrate a Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC)-compliant payment processing solution to your website. 
  • Review the security best practices and PCI compliance measures adopted by your third-party payment processor (such as PayPal or Stripe). 
  • Restrict access to donor credit card information. 
  • Implement multi-factor authentication or use password managers to frequently update passwords.
  • Build a defense strategy comprising top security best practices such as deploying antivirus, anti-malware, firewalls, and intrusion prevention systems. 
  • Adhere to GDPR. Make data available to donors upon request. Utilize the services of a legal counsel, when needed. 
  • Ensure your website has SSL certificates. When donors log on to your nonprofit website, they must actually log into a secure (https://) connection. A secure connection should be offered for every page on your website. 

Build your nonprofit website with the right CMS

A robust content management system allows you to publish new pages, update news and ensure your website stays fresh and relevant. Frequent publishing helps boost website traffic, attract more donations, and improve engagement with your audiences. 

Consider a CMS as viable for your nonprofit website, if it has the following features:

  • Ease of use: Opt a CMS that is easy to maintain and update on a regular basis. Most CMS have complex backend interfaces that aren’t easy to navigate. Choose a CMS that's intuitive, easy to use, and requires minimal training. 
  • Handy support: Adopt a CMS that offers extensive community support. Ensure that even less tech-savvy employees are able to get in touch with a support team member to receive timely, reliable help.
  • Cost: Cost is an important consideration in CMS selection. Choosing an open-source CMS with a broader support community, security, add-ons and an accessible knowledge base is the best option from an overall budget perspective.
  • SEO features: Choose a CMS that allows you to develop an SEO-friendly nonprofit website. The CMS should support customizable URLs, page titles, and meta-data. The website should create an environment conducive for digital marketing and enable analytics to track your website visitors. 
  • Flexibility and scalability: The CMS should be able to manage later expansions such as additional features, new pages, and other future needs. Composable content management systems that offer rich customer experiences are a great choice for nonprofits to build flexible and scalable websites.  

Why is Drupal the right CMS for non-profits?

Drupal is an excellent all-around CMS that powers hundreds of nonprofit and NGO websites worldwide, such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and YMCA, among others. Drupal’s ease of use, a vast community of coders, 47,000+ modules, and 3000+ themes make it a highly coveted CMS for nonprofit website development. The platform’s open-source nature, built-in access control system, enterprise-level security features, custom coding and themes, adaptability to match your organization’s growing needs, multi-lingual support, and ability to integrate with a wide range of third-party applications make Drupal the best CMS for nonprofits and NGOs. 

Transforming a nonprofit’s experience with Drupal:

One of our clients, a volunteer-driven non-profit organization, leveraged Srijan’s Drupal development services to bring all their microsites under a common roof. This helped them communicate their mission effectively and generate consistent, high-quality content across all their microsites.

How did Drupal development help the nonprofit org?

  • Reduced the cost of development and maintenance of the website through a low code approach and reusable components 
  • Improved website ranking on search engines and increased page views per session by 100%
  • Better content recommendations helped them build engaging digital experiences

The nonprofit also cut multiple license costs and reduced the time to publish content with reusable components. 

If you’re a nonprofit or NGO looking to take your mission to the next level with a stable online presence, build and grow your nonprofit website with Srijan. Our Drupal development experts ensure that your website is always valuable and well-maintained. We opt for a continuous development approach with a keen focus on the latest nonprofit industry trends and technology updates. Contact our nonprofit technology consultant and get the conversation started. 

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