Like other organizations and businesses, it is important for nonprofits to have a website that provides essential information to visitors. But nonprofits are different from for-profit entities in several key respects. That is why it is important to have a website that is designed and developed with nonprofits in mind.
A nonprofit website should have seven critical items: an about us section, ways to donate, information about programs and services, ways to get involved, a newsletter sign-up, a blog, and photos and videos. Including these things can help to ensure that you’re getting your message across - and reaching as many people as possible. Below, we break down each “must-have” item and explain what you should include for each.
Inclind works with nonprofits to help them design and develop websites that are specifically geared toward their work. We understand how nonprofits operate, and what their websites need to support their mission best. Reach out to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you design, develop, redesign, or optimize your nonprofit website.
An “About Us” Section
When a person visits a nonprofit's website, it is usually for a particular reason - whether that is to learn more about a cause, seek out services, or find ways to help. Having an “about us” section is critical to ensure that your organization tells its story clearly and effectively. This is your opportunity to explain what you are doing, why you are doing it, and why others should get involved with your work.
What should an “about us” section include? For nonprofits, it should always include a mission statement. Nonprofit organizations are generally required to have a charitable purpose to qualify for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The mission statement from these filings can be added to your“about us” section so that people clearly understand your work.
In addition, you may want to include some other information, such as:
- When your organization was founded;
- Its origin story;
- Who is on the Board of Directors;
- Milestones in your agency’s history; and/or
- Facts and figures about the work that you do (such as 3,000 hotline calls answered in 2022)
The “about us” section may also be a good place to keep important documents, such as an annual report and IRS filings. You could also include links to your social media accounts and other relevant information. For example, if your organization is listed on Charity Navigator, you could include a link to the site so visitors can easily see your nonprofit’s rating on factors like finances, accountability, and transparency.
Easy Ways to Donate
Many nonprofits are funded through a combination of sources, including grants, government funding, and donations from individuals and businesses. The reality of running a nonprofit typically involves some level of fundraising. Putting a “donate now” button on your site and other ways to donate is considered a best practice for any nonprofit.
Ideally, you should have a “donate” page with multiple ways to donate, including one-time, recurring, and legacy gifts. Depending on your nonprofit, you may also set up a page with a wishlist for goods that you use regularly. You could even link to an Amazon wishlist so your supporters can order from the site and have the items sent directly to your offices.
In addition to a donate page, you should also have donate now buttons on various pages. For example, if you run an animal rescue, you might put a donate now button on the page listing available pets - so that it is front and center when browsing the site. You can also link to your donation page in various calls to action (CTAs).
Information on Programs or Services
Nonprofit organizations typically provide some sort of service to the community, whether it be a food pantry for people experiencing food insecurity, clothes and other items for kids in foster care, or a shelter for unhoused people. The information about your programs or services should be included in the “about you” page - but it should also have its own dedicated page.
Think of it this way: if someone comes to your website looking for help, you don’t want them to have to wade through a mission statement to find out what you offer. By making a separate “how we can help” type of page, you are making it as easy as possible for people who may need your organization to get the assistance that they need.
This page serves an additional purpose: it tells potential supporters what you do. It can offer a more detailed breakdown of your work, which may help convince people to donate money or volunteer their time to support it. Keep your descriptions clear and easy to understand for maximum impact.
How Supporters Can Help
When someone visits your website, you want to make sure that they know right away how they can get help - and how they can help. Every nonprofit website should have a page that tells visitors exactly what they can do to get involved with their mission, from donating to volunteering to sharing information.
Like the “how we can help” page, the “how you can help” section should be straightforward. Explain what your needs are, and how people can support you. If possible, you should add a volunteer form directly on the site so that people can apply to volunteer immediately. Similarly, a “contact us” button will allow people to reach out if they have questions or need more information.
Be sure to include all pertinent information on the site. For example, if you can only take volunteers over the age of 16, put it on that page. If you offer internship opportunities, this would be a great place to list contact information for that program.
Creating a list of contacts is incredibly important. Social media is a great tool, but your page or account isn’t truly your own - and as many businesses and organizations have learned, it can be shut down, stolen, or otherwise taken out of your control. Perhaps more importantly, follows and likes on social media don’t always translate to real-world action.
People who take the active step to subscribe to your newsletter are typically more invested in your mission. They will receive news about your work, upcoming events, and more (such as spending fundraising requests). They might even opt into other forms of communication, which can be really helpful as you build a database of donors in your CRM software.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is important for any website. Essentially, you need to produce fresh, relevant content in order to rank higher on the results page for search engine sites like Google. By consistently blogging, you can increase engagement and drive traffic to your website. This may ultimately result in more people being able to find your organization because you will appear on the first page of search results - instead of the 10th page.
Blogging for nonprofits also has the advantage of showing off your expertise, which can position you as an expert in the field and raise awareness. For example, if you run an adult literacy program, you may write about statistics related to the problem, or how to reduce the stigma around these issues. This can not only help boost website traffic - leading to increased donations and more program participants - but it could also lead to others in the field recognizing your organization’s work.
Photos and Videos
In 2023, it’s no longer enough to have great content. Pictures and videos will help you tell the story of your organization and the work that it does. They’re also a great way to add visual interest and make your nonprofit website more appealing.
Of course, there are some caveats to the use of photos and videos. You should always have permission to use the media, whether by buying digital rights or taking the pics or videos yourself. Depending on your work, you may also want to be careful not to include images of your clients (and if you do, make sure that you have a signed release).
In addition, if you use photos and videos, make sure that they comply with accessibility standards. This should include closed captioning on videos and alt text on photos. Our team can help you with digital accessibility if you aren’t exactly sure what you should do to make your site accessible to people with various abilities.
Building a Nonprofit Website? We Can Help.
Certain features on nonprofit websites should be considered required - like “donate now” buttons and a description of your organization’s programs and services. Our team of award-winning website designers and developers can help you map out, build, and create the best possible website for your nonprofit organization.
From our offices in Delaware, Inlind works remotely with nonprofit clients throughout the U.S. We have deep familiarity with the needs of nonprofits and are well-versed in the software and other tools that can help nonprofits thrive. Whether your goal is to increase donations or raise awareness, we can help you get there.
Want to learn more about our services? We’re here to talk. You can fill out our online contact form or hit the live chat button to talk to one of our experts about your website.