The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website


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Creating a nonprofit website is no easy feat, but it's hugely important to the success of your organization. It's our hope these tips will help you make a better website for your nonprofit that not only looks and works great, but truly helps you do more good in the communities you serve.

For more on developing a website for your nonprofit, check out out blog:

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  • Please ask questions. We are going to cover a lot of content here. Don’t hesitate to interrupt us.
  • Organizational goals motivate employees and keep people on track.Your website can be much more than an online brochureIt should help further your goals as an organizationIt should be a tool to help you do more good in your communityIf someone were to invest in stocks, they wouldn’t continue to invest in the same stock if they had no idea how it performed. The same should go for your website.
  • Start with goals as an organizationExamples:Want to increase number of new donors?Want to increase likelihood of repeat volunteers?Want to give out more supplies to members of your community?So how do we connect these goals to the website?
  • Figure out how the website can help you to achieve your goals as an organizationExamples: Increased first time donors giving online Educating potential donors on what your organization does Repeat volunteers signing up using your website Community members registering through your website to receive supplies
  • We can’t measure if the goals aren’t concrete
  • Concrete – You can’t measure something that isn’t concreteTimeframe – Saying you’ll raise $5,000 online doesn’t mean anything if you don’t specify a timeframe.Ambitious – They can also be motivating and excitingWe are going to discuss measuring goals at the end of the presentationDavid to go to the next slide
  • What is content?TextPicturesVideosAudio Files
  • Need to tell your nonprofit’s story in a compelling way…But the whole point is cause action on the part of your visitor.Must leverage emotionMany people focus on telling a story without regard for the point of telling the story in the first place
  • Need to identify types of website visitorsThink of what content they’ll find most compellingWant it to be easy to find what they’re looking for
  • Get concrete, tell of individual people, zoom in on the detailsPeople react emotionally to stories, not statsCan use stats to support storiesEmotional connect, helps showNo jargonLess formal, use contractions, short sentencesRead it aloudBreak it up, make is easy to scanFresh contentEmail newsletter and social media
  • Make it easy to feel, see and articulateGives options to your visitorsTrust is key to donors of all ages (acquisition and retention)Builds trust, makes you seem like a solutionMake visitors feel the problemVisitors need to feel like they can make a positive impact through your organizationNo reason to compare to for profits
  • Ask: How many of you have launched a new site and had no one visit?Website is your city – these are roads leading into your city
  • Organic is harder to rank for but freePaid is easier to rank quickly (hard to manage) and costs money for each click
  • Relevance Example:“animal shelter” vs. “safe homes for pets”PopularityNumber of inbound linksQuality of inbound links
  • RelevanceUse in headings, URL, page title and at minimum 3 times in contentHelps in eyes of search and to provide more linking opportunitiesBlog can helpAsk them to blog and tell their storiesNot about blasting your content (two-way communication)Share other people’s content and hopefully they’ll share yours as wellWrite articles (establishes authority)Ask partners or collaborators to link back to your website
  • Remember that the definition said specific and beneficialIt’s not specific if we say someone just downloads anythingIt’s not beneficial if we’re talking about something like leaving your website after viewing one pageOnly use two examples here and make sure they are beneficial.
  • Completing a llama adoptionDonating onlineDownloading a volunteer application (this isn’t done completely online, but can still be measured)Adding a comment on an articleSharing via social media
  • These are the main browsers (Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Opera)A website might show great on one and bad on anotherMobile phones also display websites differentlyTesting is absolutely key. The website must be viewed to ensure that each one looks correctly and functions correctly.Don’t forget function. Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it will function right. Test comments, forms, purchasing, and other actions in all browsers.Logos from: Icon: Razr:,en_US,pd.html?selectedTab=tab-4&cgid=mobile-phones#tab
  • This can happen when you:Don’t what button to clickDon’t know what the next step is to purchaseDon’t know which navigation item to go toDon’t know what is a link and what isn’t
  • It’s called usability.It means how easy is it to use and how easy is it to learn?It’s really important and you should think about it whenever you make a change to your websiteIt’s one of the top reasons people will leave your website.
  • Red Cross example is very clearCAPTCHA example is very unclearRed Cross Nav:
  • Provide many opportunities for involvementPeople are different and want to get involved in different ways.Some people may want to give, but they’re not quite ready. Provide them another opportunity to get involved. (see PETA signup)People may also prefer different methods of getting in touch: phone vs. email vs. forms (testing can help here/think about the audience)Peta Image:
  • On this article there are four different places to engage and they are very easy to get to. They do the thinking for you.You need to allow people the option to give on every page.
  • Everyone should have some kind of measurement tool for their website. Google Analytics is a free solution, but can be daunting.Spreadsheets can track all organizational goals and tools over time
  • Use CNN featuringthe organization as the example of outside factors.
  • The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website

    1. The Foundations of aGreat Nonprofit Website David Hartstein & Jonathan Goldford Wired Impact
    2. Wired Impact We make websites for nonprofits David Hartstein Jonathan Goldford Content, Measurement Programming, UsabilityThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 2
    3. What We’ll Cover Setting website goals Creating great website content Driving traffic to your website Increasing conversions Measuring outcomesThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 3
    4. Setting Website Goals
    5. What We’ll Cover The why of creating website goals Starting with organizational goals Creating connected website goals Making website goals concreteThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 5
    6. Why Create Website Goals? Lots of tools, systems and opportunities: Only so much… Time & Money So… We must be able to track success to invest effectivelyThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 6
    7. Start with Organizational Goals Increase Increase New Repeat Donors Volunteers Provide More Health Improvement InformationThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 7
    8. Create Connected Website Goals Increase Increase Number of New Online Donors Donations Increase Increase Volunteer Repeat Form Volunteers Submissions Provide More Increase Health Downloads of Improvement Health Related Information PDFThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 8
    9. Make Website Goals Concrete Increase Raise $1,500 Number of Online Per Online Month Donations Increase Sign Up 10 Volunteer Volunteers Form Online Per Submissions Month Increase 30 Downloads Downloads of of Health Health Related Related PDF PDF Per MonthThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 9
    10. Website Goals Should Be… As concrete as possible Based on a timeframe Initially somewhat arbitrary Numerous, then prioritized and limited based on constraints Ambitious, but realisticThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 10
    11. Creating GreatWebsite Content
    12. What We’ll Cover What’s the point of website content? General tips for better content Nonprofit-specific tips for better content Some examples of awesomenessThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 12
    13. What’s the Point of Content? Not just story time… … need to compel visitors to actThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 13
    14. Your Mindset Always think like your website visitor(s)The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 14
    15. General Content Tips 1. Specifics work better than generalities 2. Stories are more engaging than statistics 3. Photos and videos promote emotion 4. Avoid jargon 5. Write how you speak 6. Use lists and headings 7. Give visitors a reason to check backThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 15
    16. Nonprofit-Specific Content Tips 1. Illustrate your impact with first-person accounts 2. Give multiple, specific ways to get involved 3. Be transparent (build trust) 4. Establish authority 5. Clearly state the problem 6. Inspire hope Better content means you can ultimately do more goodThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 16
    17. Video Example What moments do you find most moving? What sticks with you? Rachel’s GiftThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 17
    18. Driving Traffic to Your Website
    19. Driving Traffic to Your WebsiteThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 19
    20. What We’ll Cover Where does your traffic come from? What do search engines care about? How can you boost traffic to your website?The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 20
    21. Where Does Your Traffic Come From? Organic search (branded vs. unbranded) Paid search Referrals from other websites Social media Email newsletters Direct trafficThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 21
    22. Organic & Paid SearchThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 22
    23. What Search Engines Value Relevance Search vs. Website PopularityThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 23
    24. Tips for Getting More Traffic 1. Use words people will search for 2. Produce fresh, interesting content 3. Involve your community 4. Build relationships on social media 5. Think about building links Is it the “right” traffic?The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 24
    25. Increasing Conversions on Your Nonprofit’s Website
    26. What We’ll Cover Defining a conversion Examples of different types of conversions Tips to improve your conversion rateThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 26
    27. What is a Conversion? A Conversion is a specific, beneficial action a visitor takes on your website.The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 27
    28. What Types of Actions? Downloading Signing up to Viewing a volunteer page, story, or blog post Donating CommentingSharing via social media Signing up for your RSVPing for event email newsletterThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 28
    29. How About Some Examples? Besties with Testies StillPointe Llama Sanctuary Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York Global Advance Oxfam AmericaThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 29
    30. Your Website Must Load Quickly 40% of Users Abandon a Amazon Increased Revenue Website That Takes More by 1% for Every 100 Than 3 Seconds to Load Millisecond Decrease in Load Time 5% Revenue Increase 4% 3% 2% 1% 0% 100 200 300 400 Decrease in Load Time (Milliseconds) Sources: KISSMetrics, MashableThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 30
    31. Ensure Consistency Across BrowsersThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 31
    32. Everything Must Be Easy Have you ever had that feeling of confusion? That feeling of “what do I do next?”The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 32
    33. Everything Must Be Easy Usability How easy is it to use and how easy is it to learn?The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 33
    34. Everything Must Be Easy: Examples Navigation is very clear and includes search just in case CAPTCHA is very unclear and difficult to useThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 34
    35. Provide Many Opportunities to Engage UNICEF PETA AARP Not everyone wants to or is ready to get involved in the same way.The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 35
    36. Keep Engaging Convenient ACLUThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 36
    37. Use an Easy Donation Process Provide a link to give on every page Keep people on your website Give them donation options Only include necessary form fieldsThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 37
    38. Measuring Website Success
    39. The Components of Measurement Your website goals Tools for measurement Reviewing your data Adjustments to goals, website and other toolsThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 39
    40. Your Website Goals Raise $1,500 Sign Up 10 30 Downloads Volunteers of Health Online Per Online Per Related PDF Month Month Per MonthThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 40
    41. The Tools for Measurement Analytics Tool Spreadsheet A spreadsheet can aggregate data across all areas, not just web analytics.The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 41
    42. Reviewing Your Data When are you going to discuss the results? Once a month? Once every three months? Who is going to be involved in these reviews? Who is going to be the point person? What do you want to come out of each one of these reviews?The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 42
    43. Adjustments to Goals, Website and Other Tools Goals should be adjusted depending on success and outside factors Test changes to the website and other tools (Tip: Don’t make changes too often to ensure confidence in results) Repeat the adjustment process Adjustments and changes should be ongoingThe Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 43
    44. We’re Done(which is good, because you must be tired) (314) 801-1328
    45. Attribution Photos • • • • • • • • • Websites • • • • • • • • • • • Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website 45