Updated: Mar 18
There are many challenges when it comes to running a successful nonprofit organization, and these days one of the most important is having a strong online presence. Your website is often the first point of contact between your organization and potential supporters, so it must make a good impression.
Charleston is a city with a long history of philanthropy and support for not-for-profit organizations. Lowcountry residents are known for their generosity, so your website must make it easy for them to learn about your organization and donate to your cause.
Here are seven keys to a successful nonprofit website. If you can incorporate all of these elements into your website, you'll be well on your way to success.
Establish a Clear and Concise Mission Statement
As a Charleston-area not-for-profit organization, one of your most important web development goals is to have a clear and concise mission statement. What is your organization's purpose? Why do you exist? Your audience should be able to understand your mission and what you hope to achieve with your website.
Imagine someone visiting your website for the first time. They should be able to quickly and easily understand what your organization does and what you stand for. Your mission statement is one of the most important elements of your website and should be prominently displayed.
A well-written mission statement can also be used as a foundation for all of your content. Every page on your website should support your mission in some way. As you develop new content, ask yourself how it supports your mission and if it is truly necessary.
Some key points to remember when writing your Charleston nonprofit's mission statement:
- Charleston-specific: mention the city or region you serve in your mission statement.
- Concise: Keep it short and sweet. Get to the point without being too wordy. Be specific and focus on what you want to achieve
- Inspiring: Make people want to get involved with your organization. Don't promise more than you can realistically deliver. Your mission statement should be achievable and believable.
By following these tips, you can create a clear and concise mission statement that will help your Charleston-area not-for-profit organization succeed.
Create Easy-To-Navigate Design
You probably have a lot of information you want to share on your local nonprofit website. But bombarding your visitors with too much information can be overwhelming and confusing. A successful not-for-profit website must strike a balance between providing too much information and not enough.
One way to achieve this balance is through design. A well-designed website will be easy to navigate and have a clear hierarchy of information. Your most important content should be front and center, while less important information can be relegated to secondary pages.
Use internal links. You can guide your visitors to the information they're looking for by creating internal links. Internal links also help search engines index your website, which can improve your ranking in search results.
Make use of negative space. Negative space is the empty space on a webpage. It may seem counterintuitive, but adding some negative space to your designs can actually make them more effective. Too much clutter on a page can be overwhelming, but negative space can help to focus the eye and create a sense of calm.
Use typography to your advantage. The way you use typeface, font size, and color can have a big impact on the overall look and feel of your website. Use these elements to draw attention to the most important information on your page.
This also applies to the mobile version of your website. With over 83% of the world's population owning a smartphone, it's more important than ever to have a website that can be easily navigated on a mobile device and still provide all of the same content and functionality as the desktop version.
As the competition for donations continues to increase, it's important to make sure your Charleston area not-for-profit website stands out from the rest. By following these tips, you can create a local nonprofit website that is easy to use, visually appealing, informative - and, most importantly, successful.
Create Compelling Content That Tells Your Story
Everybody loves a story. And when it comes to Charleston nonprofits, there are some amazing ones out there. But in order for your not-for-profit website to be successful, you need more than just a good story. You need compelling content that tells that story in a way that is easy for people to understand and connect with. Many times, the difference between a successful non-profit website and one that falls flat is the quality of the content.
So, what goes into creating compelling content for a Charleston not-for-profit website? Here are three key things to keep in mind:
1. Make it relatable:
People are more likely to connect with a story that they can see themselves relating to in some way. So, make it relatable to your target audience. Think about who your target audience is and what kind of story would resonate with them.
2. Keep it interesting:
Just because your story is important doesn’t mean it will be interesting to everyone. That’s why finding ways to keep your story interesting is important. Use strong visuals, for example, to help tell your story in a way that people will want to read (or watch if you have videos on your website). These days people's attention spans are shorter than ever, so it's important to keep your story interesting from beginning to end.
3. Be genuine:
People can spot inauthenticity a mile away. So, if you want people to believe in your story, you need to be genuine. Transparency is key here. Be upfront about who you are, what you stand for, and what you’re trying to do. People will appreciate your honesty and be more likely to support your cause.
Creating compelling content isn't always easy. But it's worth it if you want your Charleston non-profit website to be successful. Simply following these three key tips will help you create content that people will want to read, watch, and share.
Develop a Call To Action That Is Easy To Find and Follow
So many times, we assume that website visitors will know what to do next in their journey, but that's not always the case. We tell ourselves, "If they want to learn more, they'll click on this button," or "It's obvious that they should sign up for our newsletter here."
But the fact is, people are often uncertain. They may be hesitant to take action because they don't want to make a mistake or they're not sure what will happen next. Because of that, lost opportunities abound for non-profits in the Lowcountry trying to engage potential supporters.
That's where a call to action comes in. A call to action is simply a directive telling the reader what you want them to do next. It's an explicit request for engagement. And when it comes to non-profit websites, having a clear and effective call to action is critical to success.
So, how do you make sure your call to action (CTA) is easy to find and follow? Here are three key tips for creating a successful call to action on your non-profit website:
1. Keep it above the fold
The "fold" is the bottom of your screen, where visitors have to scroll down to see more content. When a CTA is placed "above the fold," it's visible as soon as someone lands on your page. This is important because you want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to take action. If they have to search for your CTA, there's a good chance they'll get frustrated and give up.
2. Use contrasting colors
Your CTA should be easy to spot, even if someone is just quickly scanning your page. Using contrasting colors is a great way to make it stand out. For example, if your website's color scheme is mostly blues and grays, try using a bright orange or green for your CTA button.
3. Use action-oriented language
Your CTA should be clear and direct, with no room for interpretation. Action-oriented language tells the reader exactly what you want them to do. For example, "Sign up for our newsletter" is better than "Subscribe to our mailing list." The former is concise and to the point, while the latter is a bit vague.
Keep from using the standard "Submit Now" and "Thank you for your submission." These useless phrases are so common that they're practically meaningless. Instead, be specific about what the visitor will get by taking action. For example: "Get my free eBook on fundraising hacks."
Creating a successful call to action isn't difficult, but it does require some thought and planning. By following these key tips, you can ensure that your CTA is easy to find and follow, increasing the chances that visitors will take the desired action and helping you increase engagement and drive more results for your Charleston non-profit.
Frequently Update Information on Your Programs and Events
Up-to-date information is key for a successful non-profit website. Regular updates on programs and events help keep website visitors engaged and interested in what your non-profit is doing. A calendar of events, sponsorship opportunities, and the latest news are all important pieces of information to include on your website.
But they must be kept updated - consistently!
Stale information is a turn-off for website visitors. When these essential items are not consistently updated, it can give website visitors the impression that your non-profit is not active or relevant. Make sure to keep your website fresh and up-to-date to ensure continued interest and engagement from your target audience. This will ultimately help you achieve your nonprofit’s goals and objectives.
In addition, potential financial donors may also use your website to learn more about your organization before deciding whether or not to give. If your website is not updated regularly, potential donors may question your organizational capacity and move on to another, more active organization.
So, what’s the key to keeping your website updated? As I mentioned above...Consistency!
Make sure to develop a plan for regularly updating your website content. This can be weekly, monthly, or even quarterly – depending on your organization’s capacity. Once you have a plan in place, make sure to stick to it! The most successful non-profit websites are those that are actively maintained and updated regularly.
Here are three tips for keeping your non-profit website's information up-to-date:
1. Have a designated person or team
When it comes to website updates, it is important to have a designated person or team responsible for making changes and additions. This will help ensure that your website’s information is accurate and up-to-date. It also will help to avoid any confusion or overlap in responsibility.
2. Set a schedule
Another key tip is to set a schedule for website updates. This could be daily, weekly, or monthly, depending on how often your programs and events change. Having a regular update schedule will help keep you on track and ensure that your website’s information is always current.
3. Use a content management system
If you are not familiar with website design or coding, using a content management system (CMS) can be a helpful way to make updates to your website. A CMS software application helps you create and manage website content. There are many different CMS options available, so be sure to research the one that best fits your needs.
Following these tips ensures that your non-profit website has up-to-date information on programs and events. This will help keep website visitors engaged and interested in your organization and ultimately help you achieve your goals.
Use High-Quality Images and Videos
It’s no secret that humans are visual creatures. In fact, studies have shown that we process images 60,000 times faster than we do text. So, when it comes to your non-profit website, using high-quality images and videos is key to success.
Not only do they help capture your visitors’ attention, but they also convey your message more effectively than text alone. And, when used correctly, they can evoke an emotional response – something that is essential for driving donations and other forms of support.
So, what makes a high-quality image or video? Here are three key things to keep in mind:
The resolution is the number of pixels that make up an image or video. The higher the resolution, the sharper and clearer the image will be. When it comes to website images, you’ll want to use images that have a resolution of at least 72 dpi (dots per inch). For videos, aim for a minimum resolution of 720p.
2. File size:
The file size is the amount of space that an image or video takes up on your computer or server. Large files can take longer to load, which can frustrate your visitors and cause them to leave your site. To avoid this, make sure to compress your images and videos before uploading them to your website.
The format is an image or video file type. The most common formats for website images are JPG and PNG, while popular video formats include MP4 and WMV. When choosing a format, make sure to consider both quality and file size. For example, a JPG image may have a smaller file size than a PNG, but it will also have lower quality.
Bonus Tip: Use stock photos and videos
Also, be judicious in which type of image you choose. Nothing screams "stock photo" like a posed headshot or a group of business people smiling with their thumbs up. Candid shots are almost always better. And make sure the image is actually relevant to your content. A picture of a cat might be cute, but it doesn’t do anything to further your cause unless, of course, you’re a non-profit that helps cats.
The same goes for videos. A montage of random clips might be pretty to look at, but if it doesn’t serve a purpose, it’s just a waste of space.
Using high-quality images and videos on your non-profit website is a surefire way to capture your visitors’ attention and communicate your message more effectively. Just remember to keep the resolution, file size, and format in mind.
When used correctly, high-quality images and videos can make a big impact on your non-profit website. So, make sure to use them wisely!
Establish a Way for Supporters to Easily Donate Online
Are you familiar with the KISS principle? It stands for Keep It Simple, Stupid. And when it comes to website design and functionality, this adage definitely holds true - especially for non-profit websites.
As I mentioned earlier, when people visit a non-profit website, they should be able to immediately understand what the organization is all about and how they can help. This means that the website should be easy to navigate and have clear calls to action.
One of the most important elements of a successful non-profit website is the ability for supporters to easily donate online. Donations are the lifeblood of many non-profit organizations, so it’s critical that the donation process is as streamlined as possible.
Face it, most people are not going to take the time to fill out a lengthy form or hunt around for the “Donate” button. So, the donation process must be as simple and straightforward as possible. You must make it easy for people to donate!
Here are three key tips to ensure that your non-profit website has a successful online donation process:
1. Have a clear and prominent “Donate” button on your website
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many non-profit websites bury their donation button on a back page or make it the same color as the rest of the text. The “Donate” button should be front and center on your website and should stand out from the rest of the content.
2. Use a reputable and secure donation processing platform
People making online donations want to know that their personal and financial information is safe and secure. Be sure to use a reputable donation processing platform that uses the latest security protocols.
3. Provide multiple payment options
Not everyone is comfortable making online donations with a credit card. So, providing multiple payment options, such as PayPal, debit cards, and even good old-fashioned paper checks is important.
Bonus Tip: Make your form is simple but gives you the information you need
When someone is making a donation, they are not going to want to fill out a lengthy form with a bunch of personal questions. However, you will still need to collect basic information, such as name, address, email, etc.
Keep the form short and sweet - only ask for the information that you absolutely need. The simpler, the better!
Make sure that your non-profit website has a successful online donation process that is easy and convenient for your supporters. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your website is donor-friendly and that you are able to collect the most donations possible.
So there you have seven keys to a successful Charleston non-profit website. But don't stop there. Keep exploring and testing new ideas to see what works best for your organization. The most important thing is to keep your website fresh, relevant, and engaging in continuing to attract new supporters and grow your donor base.
Last but not least, consider working with a Charleston web design company like Brand U Media.
I have experience working with Lowcountry nonprofits and can help you and your organization create a website that meets your goals and objectives.
My strategy is to work one-on-one with my clients to understand their needs and wants and to deliver a product that is aesthetically pleasing and effective in achieving their desired results. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you appreciate and are looking for this type of personal attention and service.
In fact, let's set up a free 30-minute consultation so we can chat about your specific web design goals and how I can help you achieve them.