With a singular dream, conviction, and continual hard work, your nonprofit has made the journey from concept to reality. Every day your organization strives to live out its mission and vision while constantly trying to cultivate support. Your website can be a powerful tool to brand your organization and to cultivate the donors and volunteers that you need to sustain and grow. Unfortunately, your website can also drive away the support your organization needs if is not carefully crafted and maintained. Below are some of the biggest web design mistakes non-profits make and how you can avoid them.
Web Design Mistake #1: Vague Mission Statements
Your supporters want to know what your organization does and what your organization aspires to accomplish. A clear mission statement provides details about what your organization is currently doing to address a pressing social problem. For example, your organization’s mission statement might be:
We provide lunch and dinner to hungry, homeless Washington, D.C. community members 7 days a week.
Your mission statement should also tell supporters what your aims are for the future. A better mission vision statement than the above might be:
Through providing nutritious, filling meals, we aim to decrease hunger among the homeless population in Washington, D.C.
Armed with a concise mission statement that makes clear what your want to do in the future, your organization can accurately and effectively represent itself.
Web Design Mistake #2: No Evidence of Activity or Impact
Even a well-crafted mission statement is not enough evidence to show what your organization does. It is simply an overview. Your organization’s supporters want to know what kind of impact your organization has had through its services and events. They want to see photographs and videos of staff, volunteers, and clients that show engagement and participation. They want to read or hear testimonials from volunteers and clients. This kind of content makes your organization come to life for potential supporters, and helps them to imagine what their experiences could be like if they were to become involved with your organization.
Web Design Mistake #3: Too Much Information
While some nonprofit organizations do not provide enough information on their websites, many nonprofits include too much information. Remember that your website should be scannable and that the more that supporters have to scroll, the less likely they will be engage in your content and to heed your calls for action. Here are some of the types of extraneous information that nonprofits include on their websites:
- Over-detailed history of the organization. Include the date of incorporation, all organization names and changes, why your organization was incorporated (and if the reason changed and why), your region that you serve, and what your current focus is on. You do not need to include a detailed timeline of decisions. Leave your meeting minutes on a private server, or share them only with staff and board members.
- Over-detailed biography of staff and board members. You should have photographs of key staff members and board members, as well as their contact information. At max, include two sentences for each that describe their commitment to their role and relevant skills. Staff and board member biographies should not make individuals and their accomplishments the main attraction. Rather, the biographies should highlight how these individuals are an asset to your organization.
- Over-detailed information on programs and services. For each program or service that you provide, your organization should give a 2-4 sentence description that explains the purpose, the population served, and the impact. There’s no need to go into a detailed history of the service, a long list of requirements for clients, or detailed qualifications needed for potential volunteers as extra paragraphs on your website. If you want to include that information, choose to include each topic as uploaded documents or media files that interested parties can choose to look at.
Web Design Mistake #4: Out-of-Date Content and Web Design
Supporters need to believe that your organization is viable and is continually active in the local community. If your website has an “upcoming events” section with events that happened 2 months ago, your nonprofit appears disorganized. Furthermore, supporters might question if your current calendar of upcoming activities is accurate. Allay supporter concerns about your organization’s activity by making sure that your calendar is up-to-date on a monthly basis (at minimum). Also make sure that cancellations and delays for events, programs, and services are prompt and that your contact information is always up-to-date.
Up-to-date web design inspires as much confidence among supporters as up-to-date content. While attractive graphics and images are important to your organization’s branding, it is even more important that your website is mobile-responsive. A growing number of people are using their smartphones and other mobile devices to browse information about their favorite causes online. If your website is hard to interact with on mobile devices, potential supporters might be deterred from visiting your website and becoming more involved with your organization. Making your website mobile-friendly can increase your donations up to 34%, according to a recent study. It is well worth the one-time cost.
Supporters are choosing to spend their time with your organization. You want to ensure a good experience every time they interact with you (online or in-person).
Web Design Mistake #5: Inadequate Calls for Donations
Potential donors for your organization have expectations about what they should find on your website:
- They expect donation to be an easy-to-complete process.
- They expect a clear, sizeable donation link or button on your homepage.
- They expect to have a secure form to complete (https) with their donation information (on your website, or on a third-party website like Paypal).
- They expect to have a description of what your organization will do with their donations (e.g., how much money will go to services, to overhead, etc.).
- They expect to be able to donate at your office or through the mail.
- They expect to receive confirmation and thanks for their donation.
- They expect to have a follow-up communication from your organization about the impact of their donation.
Your organization’s donors are investors. Treat them well and keep them engaged in what your organization is doing with their donations.
Web Design Mistake #6: Lack of Evidence of Support From Third Parties
You’ve got volunteer and client testimonials and profiles. But do you have testimonials from donors? Do you have a section of your website that recognizes donors and sponsors? As much as possible, show that your organization has a wide base of support on your website. By doing this, you’ll make it easier to garner more support.
Also, don’t forget to include evidence of support for your organization in the nonprofit community. List the nonprofit organizations and the businesses that you have partnered with or have been sponsors in the last 5 years. Submit your organization for review on Guidestar and Charity Navigator and post those results on your website.
By illustrating strong third party support for your organization, you can increase supporter confidence in your organization.
To Avoid These Mistakes, Do Regular Content Audits
The only way to ensure you aren’t falling prey to these common web design mistakes non-profits make is to do regular content audits of your website. To learn more about content audits, check out this hand dandy article we wrote on the topic: