The Power of an Effective Web Strategy for Nonprofits

19 minutes

In today's digital age, 78% of donors begin their donating journey online. Yet many nonprofits still have outdated websites that fail to clearly communicate their mission and engage potential supporters. Poorly designed websites not only miss out on potential donors, but also noticeably reduce an organization's credibility.

In a survey by Virtual Window, 48% of people cited website design as the number one factor in determining an organization's credibility. Additionally, nonprofits that don't optimize their sites for mobile devices risk alienating nearly half of their potential supporters.

It is not necessary to have endless funding to achieve good results. Even with limited resources, it is possible to create a website that will meet your stated goals. You just need to be smart about it. And we're going to show you how.

1. Understanding your audience: knowing who you are talking to is essential

Why identify audience segments?

Imagine hosting a fundraising dinner without knowing who your guests are. Would you serve a meat-centric menu to a group of vegetarians? The same principle applies online. Differentiating between primary supporters, potential donors, volunteers and recipients allows you to tailor your message to be relevant and resonate with each segment. This not only increases engagement, but also increases the chances of supporting the desired actions - whether it's donations, registrations or volunteering.

Creating personas: Bringing your audience to life

To truly put yourself in the shoes of your audience, create user personas. Imagine them as fictional but realistic representations of your key audience segments. For example, meet "Alex, a 30-year-old technology professional living in the city who is passionate about the environment." Or "David, an altruistic retired man who wants to volunteer for community service". By understanding their motivations, issues and behaviours, you can create content that speaks directly to them, making your communications efforts much more effective.

By deeply understanding your audience, you'll create the foundation for a compelling website and marketing strategy. It's not just about numbers or demographics, it's about truly connecting with those who share your mission and vision. And in the world of nonprofits, that connection is everything.

To create individual personas, you can try defining these key categories for each to help you cover the diversity of your potential donors:

  1. Demographics: Age, occupation, and income level are the primary demographic variables that influence donor behavior. Different age groups have different priorities, interests and motivations for giving.

  2. Interests and values: Interests such as culture, community involvement or technology, and values such as social responsibility or raising children can have a significant impact on decisions about which nonprofits to support.

  3. Motivations for donating: Different individuals may have different reasons for donating, ranging from a desire to contribute to positive change in society to supporting specific causes close to their hearts.

  4. Preferred communication channels: Different demographic groups prefer different ways of communicating. The younger generation may be more reachable through digital media and social networks, while the older generation may prefer traditional media.

  5. Lifestyle and attitudes: Personal life situations such as marital status, career and community involvement can also influence preferences and behaviours regarding donation.

2. Defining your marketing goals: a compass to guide you on your digital journey

Why set clear goals?

Imagine embarking on a journey without a destination. You may have the best crew (your audience) and a well-equipped boat (your website), but without a clear direction, you'll find yourself literally adrift. Specific, measurable goals give your digital strategy meaning and direction. Instead of a vague goal like "increase donations," focus on something specific: "Increase monthly donations by 20% over the next six months." Remember, your goals should meet the criteria of the well-known SMART matrix. So they should be:

  1. Specific: Goals should be clearly defined.

  2. Measurable: It should be possible to measure progress and success.

  3. Achievable: Goals should be realistic and achievable.

  4. Relevant: Objectives should be relevant to the business objectives.

  5. Time-bound: They should have a clear timeframe for achievement.

Alignment of the purpose of the site with the mission of the organization:

A website is often the first point of contact between an organization and its potential donors, volunteers or supporters. Therefore, the same goal strategy as for general marketing communications should be used for the website. Obviously, the goals of the website must be based on the marketing goals, and achieving website goals must help to achieve the marketing goals as well. Be sure to be as specific in defining them as you are with general objectives.

3. Content strategy: create a story about your mission

Why tell stories as a nonprofit organization?

Stories have the power to move, inspire and engage. Especially in the nonprofit sector, they have great power. Every donor wants to know if their donations are getting into the right hands. That's what they can learn from engaging narratives that share stories about the tangible impact of donations and support. Write real stories of how you have achieved your purpose. Narratives like "How Jan's life changed after completing our skills development program" or "The village that got clean water after 10 years" not only humanize your mission, but also give supporters a clear picture of where their contributions are going.

Choosing the right content structures:

Diverse content keeps your audience engaged and caters to different preferences. While some supporters may enjoy candid testimonials, others may be attracted to informative blogs or engaging videos. Find a balance. Use videos to showcase on-site activities, blogs to dig deeper into specific topics, and testimonials to build credibility. Remember our user persona "Alex, the urban professional"? He might be more inclined to share a short, impactful video on his social media, while "David, the retiree" might spend hours reading through detailed blog posts.

4. Website design and user experience (UX).

Why offer site visitors intuitive navigation?

The structure and navigation of your website should be simple so that visitors can easily find the information or stories they are looking for. Remember that time plays a crucial role in the digital realm. A Google study revealed that 47% of users expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. In addition to load time, if a potential donor or volunteer can't find relevant sections within a few clicks, they may walk away feeling frustrated. Clear main navigation and clear call-to-action buttons ensure that your audience's journey through the site is smooth and intuitive.

A selection of visual elements that resonate:

Visuals are powerful storytellers. The images and graphics you choose should be consistent with your organization's ethos and the story you want to share. If your mission revolves around reforestation, visuals showing lush green forests, community plantings, or before-and-after images of the areas you've impacted can be compelling. Combine these with your content to create a cohesive experience for your audience.

The design and UX of your website are more than just aesthetic choices; they are strategic decisions that affect how effectively your mission is communicated and supported. As the digital façade of your organization, your website should not only share your mission, but also encourage participation so that every visitor feels connected, appreciated, and inspired to take action. Remember, the magic of digital engagement lies in the combination of design and content. Make it meaningful.

Mobile optimization:

In today's digital environment, a significant portion of web traffic comes from mobile devices. In fact, by 2023, 59% of global online traffic will be mobile. Your website should be responsive, ensuring it looks and functions seamlessly on a variety of screen sizes. Whether "Alex, the urban professional" is browsing the site on his morning commute to work, or "David, the retiree" is viewing it on his tablet, the environment should be consistent and user-friendly.

"By their very nature, non-profit organizations are dedicated to areas that are not fully covered by the public sector or commercial entities, but it is with large multinational brands that have completely different means of promotion that we often compete for attention. A good visual style can generate interest in words and text, through which we can then fully disseminate educational information. Important for reaching younger generations who are already a much more discerning audience. Visually appealing content can convey emotion and call for action. And, of course, sharing and spreading on social media helps, bringing the topic to more people, including potential donors, for example."

Lada Brůnová

5. Elements of engagement and calls to action: Turning passive visitors into active supporters

Why address call to action (CTA)?

Building on the cohesive story and atmosphere created by your content and design, the next step is to spur action. Engagement elements and CTAs serve as catalysts and encourage visitors to actively contribute to your mission, whether through donations, volunteering, or simply spreading the word.

The power of strategic CTAs:

A call to action isn't just a button or a line of text, it's a call to participate in something bigger. However, its effectiveness depends largely on its clarity and placement. For example, the "I want to donate" button should be placed in a prominent location, perhaps in the header or as a fixed element on the page. However, in addition to its location, its wording also matters. What do you think, would a "Help change a life today" button be more effective than a simple "Donate"? Test, evaluate and iterate to see what works best for your audience.

Don't forget secondary goals:

Not every attendee may be able to contribute, but they may be willing to volunteer, attend an event, or even share your mission on social media. Offer a variety of ways to get involved. Create a CTA to sign up for a newsletter, register for an event, or simply share a success story. By accommodating different engagement preferences, you'll expand your entire network of potential support.

"The use of crowdfunding platforms brings relief to non-profit organisations, especially in terms of administrative burden. Setting up a fundraiser is a matter of just a few dozen minutes. This approach facilitates communication with donors, making it easy to send receipts for donations received. This allows you to concentrate fully on spreading awareness of the collection to potential donors."

Čestmír Horký

6. Social proof: let others speak for themselves

Why incorporate social proof into your strategy?

There are many reasons. First, you will better understand the motivations of your donors. You build their loyalty by giving them a voice. This makes them ambassadors of your mission themselves, giving each of them a sense that what they're doing is meaningful. In addition, by collecting your donors' stories, you'll create a wealth of material suitable for communication. Social proof also encourages other donors to share their story. In short, if others have done so, we feel more strongly that we should too.

What forms of social proof to work with:

  1. Beneficiaries' experiences: Stories or quotes from individuals or communities that have directly benefited from a nonprofit's work can be incredibly powerful. These testimonials show the personal approach and impact of your efforts.

  2. Endorsements from well-known individuals or organizations: endorsements from respected individuals, industry experts, or reputable organizations can add great credibility to your project. Try them in the form of quotes or perhaps video testimonials.

  3. Partner logos: The presence of logos of your partners, especially the more well-known ones, can also help increase your credibility. This lets donors know that your nonprofit is trusted and supported by other established entities.

  4. Media coverage: a strong example of social proof is the publication of articles, news or reports from credible media sources that talk about your work. This will show that your efforts are getting outside attention.

  5. Awards: don't be afraid to shine! Listing all the awards your organization has received will increase your prestige and credibility.

  6. Impact statistics: show the impact of your efforts through clear numbers. For example, showcase the number of people your nonprofit has helped, the number of projects completed, funds raised, etc.

  7. Followership: Posting your followership or engagement of your followers on social media shows a broad base of support and active community engagement.

  8. Volunteer and employee testimonials: don't just look outside the organization when creating social proof. Include the experiences and stories of your volunteers and staff as well. This will give your site visitors insight into the inner workings of your organization and its values.

  9. Donor experiences and stories: one of the most important forms of social proof. By sharing donor experiences, you motivate new donors by demonstrating the satisfaction and trust of existing supporters.

  10. Video content: Videos showing your nonprofit's work in action, interviews with beneficiaries, and reports from your team can be a dynamic and engaging form of social proof.

7. Social media engagement: amplifying your message in the digital community

Why engage social networks?

In today's digital age, a staggering 3.6 billion people are active on social media. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer nonprofits a large audience base that is worth continuing to work with and leverage to expand your mission. Whether it's sharing success stories, gathering support for campaigns, or fostering a sense of community, social media can change the game.

Leverage platforms to increase website traffic:

Your website and social media should work in tandem. Share snippets of your latest blog posts, teaser videos or compelling testimonials on social channels with links driving traffic back to your website. For example, a compelling post on "How clean water changed the life of a village" can lead followers to an in-depth article or straight to a donation page on your website. Remember that each social platform has its own unique audience and content preferences. A visually compelling infographic may make its way onto Instagram, while a detailed article will find its audience on LinkedIn. Tailor the form of your communication to each network.

"Fuck Cancer has been connected to influencers from the beginning, in our opinion, this is now an integral part of the work of communicating nonprofits. It is most effective way to let the public know about the project, its goals and at the same time increase the number of followers on their own social networks. At the same time, we at Fuck Cancer are going even further and are currently launching a pilot project of a limited series of promotional clothing designed by the influencers themselves."

David Foldyna

The journey doesn't end with the launch of a website or a successful campaign. The digital landscape is constantly evolving and so should your strategies. Embrace change, seek feedback and always look for ways to improve, innovate and evolve.

Building a successful website and digital strategy for nonprofits is akin to composing a symphony. While each element is powerful on its own, it only reaches its true potential when played in harmony. And at the heart of this symphony is your mission, which echoes far and wide, touching lives and changing the world for the better.

The road to the new website. Whether you build the site yourself or ask us for help. So go ahead!

More inspiration for a better web

How do you make a website for a contemporary nonprofit? 3pe communicates about eating disorders clearly and sensitively.

How do you make a website for a contemporary nonprofit? 3pe communicates about eating disorders clearly and sensitively.

How did 3pe rise to the challenge of branding a contemporary non-profit that would help to fight the taboo surrounding eating disorders? We talked about it with its founder Lada Brůnová and designer Pavla Julia Kolářová.

Building a Presidential Website: Our Journey with Petr Pavel's Website

Building a Presidential Website: Our Journey with Petr Pavel's Website

The search for a president is a demanding process that involves a tremendous amount of work, constant changes, but also improvisation in unexpected situations. When we agreed to create a website for a presidential candidate, did we know what we were really in for? What kind of pressure did the site have to withstand? How did we address the topic of security? And how did we manage to take down a fake website with alarmist information before the second round of the election?

Eva Pavlíková of Česko.Digital: Experteering helps to solve situations where the government falls short

Eva Pavlíková of Česko.Digital: Experteering helps to solve situations where the government falls short

In recent years, Czech.Digital has been mentioned mainly in relation to large projects that help the government with digitalization. The community of top specialists from a wide range of fields (from IT to project management to marketing), who help in their spare time by doing what they do best, is constantly growing thanks to the great results and enthusiasm of its members. What has been CEO Eva Pavlikova's experience with the last big project Stojíme za Ukrajinou, how far along she thinks we are with the digitalisation of the country, why she moved from Prague to a meadow, and how she deals with her own screen time?