While some nonprofits already raised funds online, the changes the pandemic created forced others to turn to digital methods they’d never embraced before. You may find yourself in a position where you need to ramp up your website and increase donor giving online.
Research shows online giving is on the rise. In 2019, online revenue for not-for-profit companies grew 10% and the number is even higher since the pandemic. In addition, the $300 401 contribution tax credit drove many people to seek a quick way to give a little something extra last year.
Other nonprofits are aware of the increase in online sponsorships and fighting to get a piece of the charitable pie. You’re competing against every other organization out there with a web presence. If your website doesn’t hit the right notes, you risk losing out on donations from both current and potential sponsors.
Here are our best web design tips for nonprofits looking to increase donor giving.
1. Know Your Audience
The advice given to business owners about their websites and having a distinct buyer persona in mind works for nonprofits as well. If you don’t know who your average donor is, you must do a deep dive and figure out what makes them tick.
Take a look at the demographics of your patrons. How old are they? Where are they located? What is their typical career? Write out everything you know about those who regularly give to your organization.
Next, think through the psychological reasons people choose your charity. What need or emotion does supporting your cause fulfill in them? The reasons can be as simple as someone loves animals because animals have been their comforters. Your job is to figure it out through surveys and common sense reasoning.
2. Nail Your Headline
Studies over the years have shown more than half of people only read the headline of a website article or social media post before sharing or commenting. A more recent study about Facebook showed around 70% of people only read the headline of a science piece before choosing to comment or share.
Knowing how many people never make it past your first heading should underscore the importance of the first line of copy. Make sure every word counts. Use concrete, active words describing exactly what your page is about. Anything less and people may bounce away without ever understanding just what your main idea is.
3. Tell Your Story
People love a good backstory. When people land on your nonprofit website they may not have heard of you before. It’s vital they get what you’re about. You can show who you are through storytelling and engage readers.
Ways to tell your story include using videos from your top supporters. Let them share why they care about your organization and what they’ve seen you accomplish. Include a timeline showing why you started the not-for-profit. Add details from people you’ve helped along the way.
An excellent example of an organization using stories to drive donations is the ASPCA. You’ve likely seen their television commercials, but if you visit their website you get even more stories of pets they’ve helped and placed in kind, loving homes.
They place a news feed on their landing page highlighting some of the latest news as well as tips for why you shouldn’t buy pet shop animals.
Scroll down a bit and you see featured highlights with animals such as the father and son horses reunited through adoption. Heartwarming stories lead the user to click on the donate button.
4. Perfect Your CTA
Your call to action (CTA) is what drives people to give money. Your button should contrast sharply with the rest of the page and stand out. You may want to put it in a couple of different spots. For those already giving, you can encourage them to turn to a monthly subscription or up their annual gift.
Your CTA should be short and to the point. Use action verbs and first or second person language. Examples might include, “Help Homeless Animals,” “Start a Monthly Gift” or “Donate.”
Although different studies show different combinations are more effective, take the time to test your site and see what works best with your target audience. Try different color buttons, various placements and adjust your wording. Conduct A/B split tests and see which combinations garner the most donations.
5. Optimize for Mobile
According to Statista, 54.8% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. If you want to entice people to donate on the fly, you must ensure your website converts to smaller screens. Test each feature on your page.
Is your CTA sized correctly? Can they fill in forms with a click of the button? Is your site integrated with payment systems such as Apple Pay and Google?
You may want to develop your own app. You can send push notifications if someone hasn’t donated in a while, or let them know about events and how you’re using their money.
6. Limit the Clicks
People are busy. They don’t have time to wade through endless screens of information. Limit the number of clicks in your sales funnel. Keep it short and to no more than three or four steps. Look for ways to combine phases or cut some elements.
Cut any clutter. If the element doesn’t point the user to the goal of the page, chop it.
Find Creative Solutions
Most charity websites have a similar look and layout. How can you meet user expectations while keeping yours unique? Look for ways to grab attention with bold CTAs, concise language and special offers.
With a little practice and a lot of testing, you can improve your site conversion rate. Look at what other nonprofits do successfully and try your own online events to drive traffic and engage your visitors.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.