Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying: “Everything should be made as simple as possible — but no simpler.” That’s also good advice for those who are designing a website for a nonprofit organization.
The people who come to a charity or philanthropic organization’s web page are looking for reliable, useful information, but they don’t want to struggle to find it. What is presented should be clear and logically easy to navigate. The last thing nonprofit managers want is to turn off people who seek more information about their cause and who may be willing to make a cash donation.
Since nonprofits rely on fundraising to keep their mission moving forward, users who come to the site must be quickly drawn to a donation button. Furthermore, when clicked, this button should lead to a third party that handles donations seamlessly.
Speaking of “mission,” a nonprofit website should include a mission statement written in clear, succinct language that takes no more than 10 or 15 seconds to read and understand. A heading that says “Mission Statement” or “Our Purpose” should be on the landing page positioned near the top. Sometimes this is found in the “About” or “About Us” menu at the top of the page. Whatever the case, a concise mission statement is an essential element of a functional nonprofit site.
A nonprofit website should also look instantly inviting and nonthreatening. For example, a rescue animal organization should not feature a tragic image of a starving kitten or mutilated dog on the front page. That will instantly alienate compassionate animal lovers. A picture of a happy cat or a joyful frolicking dog will make potential donors want to stay and learn more.
Remember that a graphic element does not convey meaning with words. It transmits a “visually coded message” instantaneously by displaying imagery that will be processed and interpreted for meaningfulness.
Finally, financial transparency is a crucial factor. Many people who would like to donate to a charity have misgivings because they are unsure if their money will go directly to the cause or into the pockets of bureaucrats –- or elsewhere.
A link to the annual report with a breakdown of the budget, IRS tax filings, and more will show prospective supporters just where and how money is being spent.