Optimizing Your Nonprofit Website for Digital FundraisingJune 10, 2021
Your website is one of your nonprofit’s most valuable assets for online fundraising. Not only does your website host your donation page, it’s also the face of your nonprofit and the first place potential donors go to learn more about your nonprofit. Even the most effective fundraising strategies from events to face-to-face fundraising can only do so much to make up for a poorly optimized website.
Visitors who reach your website are at a critical point in their path to donating. These are supporters who are already interested in your nonprofit, and whether or not they donate is usually determined by how your website does (or does not) streamline the donation process. After all, the difference between a completed donation and an abandoned one can be a single unoptimized page.
Our team at Cornershop Creative are experts at nonprofit software development and have helped nonprofits of all sizes in a variety of fields build effective websites that are optimized for fundraising. In some cases, it’s best to bring in a nonprofit web consultant to improve your website’s fundraising potential, but there are many practices that your nonprofit can implement yourself, including:
- Make Your Website Accessible
- Optimize Your Donation Page
- Brand All External Facing Materials
- Ensure Your Pages are Mobile-Friendly
These tips aim to make the donation process as seamless as possible once donors reach your website. Convenience plays a major role in all online spaces, including your website. Taking the extra effort to streamline your donation process can help you acquire more supporters while also showing that you value the time and effort contributing takes.
Make Your Website Accessible
Your website shouldn’t limit who your nonprofit can actually communicate with. Adhering to accessible design principles ensures everyone who visits your website can engage with your content and successfully complete their donations.
Many accessible design principles, such as having a clear navigation system, are common practices amongst nonprofit websites as they improve the experience of all visitors. However, there are specific measures your nonprofit can take to specifically help website visitors using screen readers and other assistive technology. A few practices your nonprofit can add to its website now are:
- Alternative text. Alternative text, commonly called alt text, are textual descriptions of photos, videos, and other graphical elements of your website. Adding alt text to your website’s images ensures visitors using screen readers can engage with your content. Additionally, visitors with slow internet connections also benefit from alt text for images and scripts for videos.
- Color contrast. Text can become unreadable if placed on a background with a low contrast. You can test your website’s color contrast by examining it in grayscale. Additionally, if you place text over multi-colored backgrounds (such as a photograph), you can ensure it is always legible by using white font outlined in black or vice-versa.
- Information fields. Donation pages are a common stumbling block for accessibility. Ensure your information fields provide explanations of what to enter outside of the field itself, as instructions that disappear once a user starts typing can quickly lead to confusion. Additionally, designate all required fields with multiple indicators such as using color and a symbol like an asterisk.
Website accessibility requires continual upkeep as additional pages will need to be updated to meet your accessibility standards. Occasionally, other changes to your website, such as adding new plugins or updating your CMS, can also impact your accessibility. Include scanning for accessibility features in your routine website maintenance to ensure your website is always usable for every visitor.
Optimize Your Donation Page
Your donation page’s format and content can impact how much your donors give as well as if they donate at all. Donation abandonment, wherein users leave the page before completing their gift, is a common but avoidable problem amongst nonprofits. You can encourage visitors to see your donation process through to the end and become high value donors by ensuring your donation form:
- Is a single page. While it’s tempting to gather as much information as possible from supporters making donations, asking too many questions can cause supporters to decide making a donation isn’t worth the added effort, especially if your questions don’t seem related to the donation. Limit your donation form to a single page to ensure that donating is immediately presented as fast and easy.
- Offers suggested giving amounts. Different nonprofits have different average donations, and donors who are new to your nonprofit likely aren’t familiar with yours. You can assist your donors (and sometimes increase your overall donations) by providing suggested giving amounts on your donation page. However, keep in mind that high suggested giving amounts can scare away new donors, so always allow donors to enter a custom donation, too.
- Has a recurring donor option. Recurring donors provide your nonprofit with reliable monthly revenue, and the easiest way to attract recurring donors is by asking your supporters to become one the first time they give. Some nonprofits place a checkbox at the end of their donation form for supporters to opt-in to their recurring donation program, while others display recurring donation amounts alongside higher one-time donation amounts to subtly encourage supporters to consider recurring donations.
Additionally, your nonprofit should also include adding a matching gift option to your donation page. Matching gifts are dollar-for-dollar donations made by your supporters’ employers when they give to your nonprofit. Providing a matching gift search tool on your nonprofit’s donation form can help increase your fundraising potential, especially as according to 360MatchPro’s guide to matching gifts, 78% of eligible donors don’t know if their employer has a matching gift program.
Brand All External Facing Materials
Without face-to-face interaction, making a strong first impression on supporters can be difficult. Thankfully, digital marketing still allows nonprofits to cement their brand in supporters’ minds through consistent branding. Nonprofits that brand all of their online outreach material can instill brand recognition in potential supporters, making them more likely to check out your organization each time they see your marketing materials.
Most nonprofits know that their website should have key brand elements, such as including their logo on every page. However, many nonprofit websites include links that navigate supporters away from their main website to fill out a form or view external documents. These should also be clearly and visually related to your organization. A few benefits to checking these pages and ensuring they are branded with your nonprofit’s logo are:
- Supporter trust. Unbranded forms that pop-up or navigate away from your website can make donors wary about giving out their financial information. Branding these pages or finding a payment processor that integrates into your website can help you accept payments online while reassuring your supporters they are giving to your nonprofit.
- Shareability. External pages like your donation form, fundraising, and event pages should be shareable, allowing your marketing team and enthusiastic supporters to spread links to them easily. Adding your logo to these pages ensures that anyone directed straight to your donation form with the link will know what organization they’re giving to.
- Professionalism. As mentioned, consistency is key for fundraising online. Including uniform branding elements such as your logo and colors helps further emphasize your brand while also creating a sense of professionalism.
Many software integrations include pages and forms that navigate supporters away from your website, so be sure to check that these solutions offer branding customization. In some cases, forms and pages might have smaller dimensions or other restrictions, meaning your nonprofit might need to get creative about which elements of your brand identity to include.
Ensure Your Pages are Mobile-Friendly
Not every supporter will reach your pages through their home computer. Organizations using face-to-face fundraising can especially benefit from mobile optimization, as supporters engaging with your volunteers will likely be tempted to check out your nonprofit’s website straight from their phones.
Many CMS and web builders automatically create mobile friendly versions of web pages. However, you should be sure to examine what these pages look like to determine if they are presenting your nonprofit in the most optimal way possible. For example, some mobile optimized pages can benefit from removing graphical elements that appear on their web browser version to speed up load times or limit scrolling.
If your nonprofit is unsure how to convert its page designs to mobile, consider looking at other successful nonprofit websites and comparing their mobile and desktop variants. Resources like this one compile many of the best nonprofit websites, which can be a useful starting point for researching effective mobile design.
Your nonprofit’s website can help maximise your online fundraisers’ potential to attract new audiences and convert donors. You can prepare your website for your upcoming fundraising by ensuring your website has a streamlined donation processor and presents your nonprofit in a uniform, professional light.
If your nonprofit needs more assistance implementing these changes, don’t be afraid to reach out to a nonprofit web consultant, many of whom have years of experience working with hundreds of nonprofits like yours.