15 Web Design Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

web design best practices for nonprofit websites

Adhering closely to web design best practices for nonprofit websites helps your organization build the most compelling, effective online presence possible. Your group’s site should function as the main hub for your digital presence. From this central location, the public should be able to learn about your mission and easily find ways to keep up with your campaigns and get involved.

We’ve already covered some important general information in our article 20 Web Design Best Practices for Professional Sites. Be sure to check it out, as it applies here as well. But in this post, we’re focusing in on the well-established web design elements that help a nonprofit’s website truly succeed.

Success obviously means different things to different charities and other not-for-profit organizations. But when it comes to common nonprofit goals like recruiting new members, spreading information and awareness, getting donations, collecting supporting signatures, signing up newsletter subscribers, building a social following, and so on, there are definitely some reliable dos and don’ts.

Tips for Great Nonprofit Website Design

  1. Make your overarching mission clear right away in a concise, emotionally resonant headline on the Home page.
  1. See to it that your core purpose is immediately evident on every other page, too, designing them all for the 5-second win.
  1. Tell your organization’s story, and the story of your cause. There are big reasons you’re doing what you’re doing, and that’s what people will connect with.
  1. Include highly visible icon links to your social media accounts on every page of your site. Encourage visitors to connect as an easy way to learn more about your cause, keep up with your efforts, and join in conversations pertaining to relevant issues.
  1. Make it really obvious where and how users can sign up for your newsletter. Briefly explain the benefits of subscribing.
  1. Display trust signals and social proof to show that you’re legitimate. For a nonprofit, this might include logos of partner or member organizations; media coverage of your organization and its leaders, activities, or successes; photos of your fundraisers, rallies, or other events; large social media followings; or endorsements from celebrities, politicians, prominent businesspeople, industry thought leaders, community leaders, etc.
  1. Build individual, smartly designed landing pages, each focused on one specific goal.
  1. Have a Resources page accessible through your site’s top-level navigation where the public can find reliable, current information about issues central to your nonprofit’s cause. Keep this page updated and well maintained.
  1. Also have a Get Involved page accessible through your site’s top-level navigation. This should serve as a convenient central location where visitors can learn how to donate, volunteer, attend events, spread your message, and otherwise help support the cause in ways you’re looking for.
  1. Create a dedicated media page, too. Journalists are powerful allies in getting your nonprofit’s name, message, and activities out there. They appreciate being able to quickly glean a few key statistics about your issues, see what you’re doing and when, and find contacts to request things like an interview or quote, additional information, or publicity photos. Making this process as easy as possible increases your news and other media coverage.
  1. Set and publicize tangible, realistically achievable short-term goals. It’s well documented that people are much more willing to make charitable contributions when there’s a set number you’re trying to reach; similarly, they’re more likely to rally behind other clearly defined goals.
  1. Highlight your organization’s successes. People want to be involved with groups that achieve goals and bring about positive change.
  1. Be transparent about where money from donations and your organization’s budget goes. The public is far more likely to give and to get involved if they believe funds are first and foremost being used to directly benefit the cause.
  1. Have a modern, mobile-friendly website. It’s an essential way to show people that you’re invested in your reputation and that you have a contemporary attitude toward addressing your cause—all of which is important to fostering trust. If you’re not sure if your site is current enough, take a look at our article 7 Signs Your Website Is Outdated and In Need of a Redesign.
  1. Optimize your donation page. Not only should it be really easy to find, it should also be really simple to use. One big, clear, tastefully attention-grabbing call to action should be what users see on the page. And don’t make them jump through hoops to give; every step you add and every additional field they have to fill out reduces the number of donations you get.

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