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In: Marketing, Nonprofit Websites

6 Strategies for Building a Nonprofit Website in 2017

Jul 27, 2017

Every nonprofit organization can benefit from having a digital presence to solidify their mission and spread their message. The process of website development can be overwhelming. At ATAK, we help clients get down to the core of their identity, and use this to guide the website design and development process.

Attracting new donors, and staying top-of-mind with everyone in your donor base, is a complicated balance in 2017. Mindful and well-meaning donors can still become forgetful as time goes on, necessitating ongoing marketing work and the importance of integrating donor database, payment, and media systems into a website from the ground up.

When creating a nonprofit website, attention has to be equally split between communicating a message to current and potential donors, and creating an interactive, technically flawless experience.

Here are 6 must-haves ATAK’s development and marketing teams have built into nonprofit websites in 2017 so far:

1. Sharing Your Message and Call to Action

It’s important that your website design is intuitive and attractive to your visitors. When built right, your website will attract visitors who have never heard of your charity, or mission.

A responsive website design with arresting copy is a must-have for nonprofit organizations to look modern and transparent. Your website should clearly communicate what you do, who you are, and why you’re doing it. This includes information on your home page, an ‘About’ page sharing what you do and who leads your organization, and a blog where your team can share news and opinion.

Nonprofit website branding

For our client Elevate Adventures, this meant a concise, step-by-step for the process of facilitating a nature experience for nonprofit organizations.

The art direction for this project was clear: we would let the national parks speak for themselves. Sweeping nature photos share Elevate’s spirit of adventure and reverence for the National Parks it helps others access and enjoy.

The right branding and visual style helps build confidence in your site and organization. The right logo, design, and imagery combine in a way that helps visitors quickly and simply understand what your organization wants them to do – such as donate, engage, or volunteer.

Your Nonprofit’s Messaging Should Include:

  • Logo and brand identity
  • Photographs of leadership, and program participants (if possible)
  • Video, audio, and documents that can be used to communicate your mission
  • A clear point of contact for site visitors

2. Advanced Fundraising and Database Technology

As a nonprofit organization, attracting more donations can be the backbone of your digital presence. In any nonprofit’s website, donation should be prominent and simple – and the experience for returning donors should be easy and comfortable.

Donation technology can be included in a website in a way that simplifies recurring donations. GO Campaign focuses on recruiting monthly donors to their efforts to help vulnerable children. Through a mix of messaging and technology, Go and ATAK were able to empower donors to understand the scope of Go Campaign’s initiatives.

The culmination of this education and branding is a prominent donation landing page, allowing for monthly, quarterly, or annual recurring donations. Proper database integration enables their donor outreach team to create marketing campaigns that segment audiences across marketing channels.

Fundraising should also be present on digital channels beyond your website. There are more digital donation channels available now than have ever been before! ATAK helps nonprofit organizations expand their donation base by using new fundraising tools.

Improving Fundraising Potential

Digital innovation has created more ways for nonprofit organizations to accept donations from an audience that is increasingly focused on having a seamless online experience.

Social media platforms have created integrated donation tools, so that visitors can contribute to an organization without ever leaving their social media apps.

Facebook has a short verification process that allows verified charities in the US to add a donation button and fundraising tools to their Pages – meaning that visitors can donate to your organization without leaving Facebook. Likewise, Snapchat’s SnapCash allows donors to send cash from within their app.

Crowdfunding campaigns can be another way to modernize charity fundraising. Platforms like YouCaring, Kickstarter, and IndieGoGo allow charities to build compelling fundraising landing pages for specific products. Keep in mind that these platforms will all have rules of their own – for instance, Kickstarter doesn’t allow pure donations; any backer funds have to be contributing to a project.

Finally, if an awareness campaign is targeting prospective donors who are not yet aware of your organization, it may be easier to build trust with a payment platform they already trust. Square Cash and Paypal, for instance, are used by millions of Americans for ecommerce and small business transactions, making the donation process faster and more familiar.

The value of these tools is meeting customers where they already are, on platforms they trust. These can make donation simpler, and remove barriers such as security concerns.

Tying It Together

GO Campaign manages their donor database through blackbaud’s eTapestry donor management CRM. This enterprise-level donor management software meant that integrating donor data from the website, social media, email, direct mail, and events management would be seamless.

Reducing the time spent pruning and organizing customer data means that more energy can be spent using the data to build responsive, cross-channel integrated marketing campaigns for your most engaged supporters. ATAK’s development team is experienced and ready to help your nonprofit streamline its donor database.

What your website needs to modernize donation strategy:

  • A donations page.
  • Simple, clear CTAs leading to the page.
  • Developers who can integrate your donor database.
  • Social media strategy to build donor base off-site and re-engage.
  • A payment function to accept funds, like PayPal or Authorize.Net.

3. Connect With Your Audience

For an established nonprofit organization like OUR HOUSE, ATAK was able to focus on donor messaging with a fresh WordPress website design.

With their website, OUR HOUSE aims to recruit volunteers, support group attendees, and donations. The primary focus of these efforts is to maintain and grow their grief support group program: volunteers to run support groups and assist with campaigns, support group members in need of OUR HOUSE’s grief resources, and donors who can help OUR HOUSE continue their mission.

Thanks to their history as an established grief resource, OUR HOUSE has two further programs: grief training for medical students and staff, as well as on-site grief support services for schools or companies.  On top of this, OUR HOUSE offers a summer camp for support group alumni!

The home page uses a slider and three prominent boxes to help visitors navigate to the right place.

On the home page, our design devotes significant space to making sure OUR HOUSE’s program offerings are clear and accessible.

In the pages for these programs, parents, children and professionals can learn more about the philosophy and positive effects of the grief support programs offered. Once a visitor navigates to a page for the service they are looking for, they find content that demonstrates the impact of OUR HOUSE’s programs, with testimonials from volunteers, participants, and medical professionals.

OUR HOUSE has a variety of volunteering opportunities for the community. Their primary volunteer focus is recruiting grief support group leaders. Second to this is volunteers for their events: Camp Erin, and the annual Run for Hope. The first volunteer landing page breaks down these opportunities, each of which have their own page and signup form, so that OUR HOUSE’s volunteer coordinators can respond based on interest.

When a donor visits the site, OUR HOUSE offers a variety of support options that help reinforce how much work they do to help people experience grief in a supportive environment.

Ongoing direct mail, email, and digital marketing campaigns build donor support, and events throughout the year help to build personal connections with these audiences. It is important that their site be able to communicate the breadth of activity OUR HOUSE is engaging in, to help donors understand their value.

Effective Program Pages Contain:

  • Descriptions of your goals, process, and qualifications
  • Testimonials about program efficacy
  • Details for how to apply to, or enroll in your programs – whether that is a contact form, enrollment plugin, or phone number

4. Transparency

Potential donors are looking to build reasons to trust your organization. Websites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar scrutinize the public presence of a charitable organization, and provide scores of trustworthiness, which can have a significant impact on donor trust.

Your organization can build trust by adding this transparency to its website. Most commonly, this means adding a page for financial and other disclosures. GO Campaign has its past ten years’ Form 990 in PDF, for example:

GO Campaign also takes advantage of donator trust in GuideStar, encouraging visitors to read its GuideStar profile, and highlighting their commitment to financial and program transparency.

OUR HOUSE highlights their Charity Navigator score, provides financial summaries, and anticipates that potential donors will visit this page by including a donation button at the bottom.

Effective Transparency Can Include:

  • Easy-to-find financials
  • Program size and outcomes
  • Board member and staff disclosures
  • Connections with Charity Navigator or Guide Star

5. Showing Your Impact

Celebrating the results of your programs and efforts is critical to grow support for your nonprofit organization. Everyone likes a success story, and it helps you stand out to potential donors and corporate partners. This page is also effective for media coverage and social media – make sure it’s easy to see and share your biggest wins.

ATAK’s client Theatre of Hearts / Youth First provides programs to children in public schools, which means the academic results of their programs is critical to continue providing access to art classes in inner-city classrooms. Their results page is academically focused, to reflect these needs.

Because art education is about subjective experience, Theatre of Hearts follows this content with testimonials from students who experienced the programs.

In their blog, GO Campaign shares photography and stories related to the programs they run to help vulnerable youth and families around the world as weekly project updates, which demonstrate GO Campaign’s ongoing success and efforts.

Theatre of Hearts uses their Cool Art page features paintings by the students who experience their arts outreach programs.

The way your organization shows and celebrates its outcomes will be unique to your mission. Product partnerships, video content, events, social media, and written content can all be part of showing your outcomes – but be sure to back them up with research and hard numbers about what you’ve achieved.

Each piece gets a personal touch on its own page, with an artist quote to personalize the impact of the piece, and value of the overall program.

Your Outcomes Page May Include:

  • Photography of the program in action
  • Statistics about program results
  • Testimonials from people affected by your programs

6. Your Own Spin

There’s something that makes your organization special, and sets you apart from the rest. A marketing team is what helps you amplify these differences and turn them into valuable qualities that turn a passerby into a donor.

Your own spin could be almost anything – merchandise, social media events, brand partnerships, or special events. Our project managers bring their skills and creativity to help nonprofit organizations leverage these unique branding opportunities into donors and partnerships.

Ways to differentiate your nonprofit with digital marketing campaigns include:

  • Ecommerce. Theatre of Hearts sells a selection of the paintings made in its art programs, with a note from the artist about what they made and why. The proceeds of the painting go back into the arts programs. Ecommerce  can be easily built into a WordPress website with WooCommerce – one of our specialties.
  • Events and Performances. Some things have to be experienced to be understood. Fundraising events, performances, galas, etc – they all start with a list of invitations and RSVPs. Tools like Eventbrite can be integrated into social media and websites to promote ticket sales.
  • Worldwide Online Events. Online events that can be shared on social media, like the Alzheimers Association’s Longest Day, require careful selection and implementation of software to help participants and organizations run distributed events, but the gains, and spotlight, can be very rewarding.
  • Social Contests. The #Ham4All challenge has swept social media, thanks in no small part to the fact that the entire world knows all the words. Your organization isn’t Hamilton, but the structure of the campaign is very similar to a pledge drive, with a compelling direct challenge.
  • Flash Fundraising. Flash sales and short-term promotions have become ecommerce bread and butter. Your nonprofit can use this tactic, too. Here’s how Wabash College did it, and there are only a few basic ingredients needed to try your own campaign:
    • Incentive – A goal everyone is rallying behind, like a donor total.
    • Urgency – Only 24 hours to donate!
    • Publicity – Make sure you’re extra active to get the word out, with social media assets ready.
    • Make it Special – Get your management team to do live video chats, and social media events with prominent supporters, to make it feel like a special occasion.

Every cause, and every organization, has something that makes it unique. At ATAK, our brand, marketing, and development teams all work to maximize this special factor, and make you stand out from the crowd. This is why we put so much value on getting to know our clients on a deeper level by having one central point of contact for any project we’re making with you.

If your nonprofit is in need of a new website to rejuvenate your campaigns, contact ATAK today for a free website quote and marketing consultation.

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YOU CAN ALSO CALL US AT 310.526.7493 IF YOU PREFER TO DISCUSS YOUR QUESTIONS WITH US OVER THE PHONE.
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