You can get more from your nonprofit’s web presence with these easy to implement tips.
In this day and age, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to turn a blind eye to the digital world, nonprofits included.
It might seem difficult for your organization to keep up with the ever-changing online landscape, but you’d be surprised at how simple it can be to freshen up your nonprofit web presence and develop a digital strategy that works for you.
To help you get a jumpstart on your own nonprofit web development, we’ve put together 7 super-simple steps that nonprofits of all shapes and sizes can follow:
- Enlist the help of a nonprofit web consultant.
- Integrate your nonprofit website with your CRM.
- Don’t be afraid of custom web solutions.
- Tailor your online presence to your constituents.
- Ensure your website is user-friendly.
- Optimize your donation and registration forms.
- Don’t let your web presence grow stale.
While nonprofit trends come and go, we feel confident that our web development strategies will be here to stay for some time. So, pull up a chair and we’ll dive into the strategies!
1. Enlist the help of a nonprofit web consultant.
Why fumble around in the dark trying to navigate your online strategy when you could have an expert leading you every step of the way?
Nonprofit web consultants (also called nonprofit technology consultants or, in some cases, simply nonprofit consultants) can be your organization’s new best friend when it comes to laying out a strategy for your web presence and following through in the most effective ways.
A nonprofit web consultant can do a lot, so let’s narrow down why you might bring one on:
- You’re launching a nonprofit website from the ground up or doing a major redesign.
- You need help migrating data, web content, files, or domains.
- Your organization doesn’t have a robust IT department to build out your site.
- You need to design custom solutions for your website.
- You need assistance maintaining your nonprofit website long-term.
If you already have a vision of what you’d like your nonprofit web presence to look like, a consultant can work with you to determine feasibility and then put a plan into motion to bring your ideas to life.
That means you’ll get exactly what you want from your website or online fundraising strategy with none of the headaches or hassle that can come with development.
2. Integrate your nonprofit website and CRM.
More than likely, your organization uses some sort of constituent relationship management (CRM) software to track donor and volunteer information holistically, manage fundraising campaigns, and communicate with constituents.
While it’s possible for your website and CRM to exist on totally separate planes, the best CRM systems also encompass web content management, social media management, and online fundraising tools.
When your CRM integrates with your website, all data collected on your site will automatically flow into your CRM, including information captured from:
- Online donation forms
- Volunteer sign-ups
- Event registration forms
- Membership applications
Seamless data capture means less data entry and less chance for human error—not to mention a lot of saved time!
3. Don’t be afraid of custom web solutions.
Sometimes to take your strategy to the next level, your organization will need to get a little creative!
A nonprofit web consultant can build out completely unique solutions that enhance your web presence in a variety of ways.
If you’re working with built-in web design tools as part of your fundraising software or content management system, there will naturally be limitations to what you can do. In order to customize your solution beyond what your software offers, you’ll need to configure your own solution.
Luckily, you don’t have to be a development expert to implement a custom strategy; all you need is a great nonprofit web consultant!
For example, take a look at how the consultants at DNL OmniMedia configured Blackbaud’s TeamRaiser platform to create a custom peer-to-peer website for the North Shore Animal League.
With the help of a consulting firm, the North Shore Animal League took their online strategy from basic to completely customized by adding new features to the standard TeamRaiser functionality, including event-themed peer-to-peer fundraisers, unique branding, and appealing landing pages.
4. Tailor your online presence to your constituents.
One major mistake many nonprofits make when outlining their web strategy? Not accounting for their own constituency!
If you think that another nonprofit’s web development strategy will work for your own organization, think again. To see the most success from your website, social media, and online fundraising efforts, you’ll need to take an approach that’s all your own.
To do that, you’ll just need to determine the answers to a few key questions:
- Who are you trying to engage with your web presence—donors, volunteers, members?
- What online channels are most engaging for your constituents—email, Facebook, your website?
- What are your goals for online engagements—online donations, social media followers, volunteer sign-ups?
Keeping accurate constituent data on file can help you come up with these answers. You can use your CRM to find out your nonprofit’s demographics, store social media profile data, process online payments, and even automate email communications!
Once you know the best ways to meet your supporters where they are online, you’ll be able to implement a plan for engaging them through those channels.
For example, if a large part of your constituency never checks their email but spends hours on end surfing through their Twitter feed, you know not to exert all of your energy creating email campaigns that might not even be opened.
Instead, you can explore Twitter and other similar social media platforms as marketing and communication tools. (Check out our post on how to do that here!)
5. Ensure your website is user-friendly.
It probably goes without saying that in order to have a positive web presence, your supporters will need to be able to find and interact with your organization online.
A major part of online accessibility is simply designing a nonprofit website that’s as user-friendly as possible.
Whether you’re building your own website using a content management system, hiring a nonprofit web design firm, or working one-on-one with a consultant to build out your dream site together, keep the following surefire tips in mind to design a stellar site:
- Optimize your site for mobile screens.
- Brand each page of your site to match your organization by using a standard color palette, font family, and your nonprofit logo.
- Include intuitive navigation at the top of each page.
- Incorporate high-quality images and videos.
The most important tip for improving your website? Make sure you’re directing visitors where you want them to go by placing prominent donate buttons on every page!
In your navigation bar, you should also include a highlighted link to your Ways to Get Involved page to inspire volunteer sign-ups or event registrations. That way, you can expand your online fundraising efforts to promote alternative ways to give as well.
6. Optimize your donation and registration forms.
Designing an easily navigable website should ensure your online supporters find your donation and registration pages. But to make sure they actually complete the gift or finish sign-up, you should design online forms that are simple and straightforward.
Whether you’re creating online donation forms, volunteer sign-up forms, or event registration forms, here are just a few of our favorite tips for optimizing any and all of your online forms:
- Keep it short! Your supporters should easily be able to complete any form in one sitting.
- Make sure your forms work on any screen, including smartphones and tablets.
- Limit the number of required fields (only name, email or phone number, and other vital information should be required).
- Don’t require your supporters to create an account.
- Include your logo and color scheme so supporters feel secure giving their personal information and payment details.
For an idea of what to include, take a look at Fundly’s donation form templates! You can use these as inspiration for online forms or physical forms sent through direct mail. (And while these templates are specifically tailored to donations, most of their strategies can also apply to event or volunteer registration forms as well.)
When in doubt, spend a few minutes with your team clicking through your organization’s forms on your own.
If you have any issues getting through the form, your supporters will too, so test everything out on your laptop, phone, and tablet to make sure there aren’t any unforeseen hiccups.
7. Don’t let your web presence grow stale.
In order to maintain your following long-term, you’ll need to keep your online strategies fresh.
Think about it: your organization’s fundraising and engagement strategies need a refresher every few years, and your online presence should follow suit.
An outdated website or rarely updated social media profiles won’t just hinder your chances of attracting new donors or volunteers; they’ll also show your existing supporters that you aren’t invested in engaging with them through online channels.
On the other hand, constituents who can see that your team is paying attention to your online presence will quickly realize that your nonprofit is still relevant and devoted to your mission.
You can stay in the front of your supporters’ minds by following these strategies to keep your online presence up-to-date:
- Keep your website current by including a live social media feed, regular blog posts, and recent photos or videos.
- Post volunteer opportunities on an online calendar on your website so supporters know exactly how to get involved in real-time.
- Consider refreshing your website design every few years to make sure you don’t run the risk of appearing outdated.
- Update your social media platforms at least once a week, and vary your posts across your different channels.
- Send regular email newsletters that showcase your nonprofit’s activity and highlight your current campaigns or projects.
You don’t have to spend all day online to keep your presence updated, either. Content management, social media, and email marketing tools can help you schedule and automate your online communications, saving you a lot of time in the long-run.
As a bonus, many of these tools can come built-in or be integrated with your CRM, so you’ll have everything you need in one place!
Managing your nonprofit’s web presence doesn’t have to be a mind maze. Once you’ve taken some time to outline an effective online strategy, carrying it out will be a breeze.
Not sure if you can handle online engagements on your own? Never fear! A nonprofit web consultant can come to your rescue and help you develop best practices that work for your organization. Check out DNL OmniMedia’s services for implementing a killer online presence!
Carl Diesing, Managing Director – Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with on-going web development projects. Together DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations to assist them with accomplishing their online goals.
As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.