Your nonprofit’s website serves many purposes. It can be used as a donation platform, an event registration hub, a volunteer sign-up tool, a communication channel, and an informational outpost.
One of the most important roles your website can play is that of a marketing tool. A nonprofit’s website can drive current supporters and curious newcomers to learn more about your cause, campaigns, and events – it can even inspire them to act.
However, to be the best marketing asset it can be, your website needs to follow nonprofit web design best practices, have a solid presence on the web, and host the resources that keep supporters coming back for more information and opportunities for involvement. You also need to know how to leverage it correctly, so that it’s helping your organization attract more attention and support.
The good news is that with the right strategies on your side, you can drive more traffic to your website and spread the word about your mission far and wide. In this guide, we’ll get you started on the right foot by walking through six strategies for using your nonprofit’s website as an effective marketing tool:
- Provide accurate and up-to-date information about your organization
- Incorporate your branding into your website design
- Connect your website to your social media profiles
- Optimize for accessibility to reach more supporters
- Use CTAs to inspire giving
- Leverage SEO best practices to drive traffic to your website
It doesn’t matter what state your website is in. Whether it could simply use some light touch-ups or a full-blown overhaul, implementing these six strategies will be a great first step toward making your nonprofit’s website a marketing tool that draws people in and gets them excited about contributing to your cause. Let’s go!
1. Provide accurate and up-to-date information about your organization
Have you ever clicked on a website and seen that it hasn’t been updated for a couple of months or even a few years? This quickly marks a website as less-than-trustworthy, and you likely clicked back to find a better source of information.
When optimizing your website as a marketing tool, the last thing you want on it is out-of-date or inaccurate information. You can keep your website fresh by:
- Staying on top of your events calendar: Once an event has passed, remove it from your event calendar. You don’t want your supporters getting confused by last month’s crowdfunding push when what you really want is to get them signing up for your upcoming fun run!
- Maintaining a blog: Posting regularly on a blog is a great way to share updates on your programming, campaigns, and more. Plus, it gives your website visitors a great reason to check your website on a regular basis. On top of sharing updates, try spotlighting volunteers and donors, sharing beneficiaries’ stories, and recapping events.
- Regularly updating statistics: Perhaps your nonprofit shares statistics that illustrate the impact you’re having on your community. Make sure you keep these figures up-to-date, so that your website visitors can see how big of a difference your nonprofit is making in real time.
When your website is kept up-to-date, you not only build trust with your visitors, you also establish your site as a reliable source of information. Visitors will know that when they have questions about your cause, volunteer opportunities, advocacy work, or donation process, they can turn to your website for answers and information.
2. Incorporate your branding into your website design
Take a look at Cornershop Creative’s roundup of the best nonprofit websites. What do you notice as you look through all the website examples? Each organization has a strong brand that is clearly represented in its website design.
Using your brand elements on your site helps build credibility with your website visitors and aligns your website with the rest of your organization’s resources and operations. For example, if a visitor recognizes the logo on your website as the same logo they see when they visit your facility, you’ll appear more consistent and professional in their eyes, establishing you as an organization they trust and want to be involved with.
So, what brand elements should you include on your website? Here are some examples:
- Logo or mascot
- Color scheme
- Imagery (E.g. maybe you always use black and white photos)
As you work to brand your website, make sure your other marketing assets follow similar branding guidelines. It may be helpful to create a brand guide that can help your team create consistent-looking materials – whether it be social media posts, posters, or volunteer t-shirts.
3. Connect your website to your social media profiles
Pew Research Center reports that seven in ten Americans use social media. Because it’s such a popular form of communication, your nonprofit can leverage it to get your website’s content circulating among your target audience!
Use your donor data to discover which social media platforms your supporters use the most, and create and maintain an active presence on those platforms. Then you can begin sharing your website content on those platforms, encouraging your followers to explore your website and share your content themselves. You can even make it easier for them by including clickable social media icons in the header or footer of your website.
Integrating these tools will help you not only increase traffic to your website, but also reach people in your supporters’ personal networks as they share your blog posts, event pages, and more.
4. Optimize for accessibility to reach more supporters
Optimizing your website for accessibility is the process of ensuring your website content can be seen and used by all people, regardless of ability, device, or location. By making your website accessible, you’re opening the door to more supporters to join in the fight for your cause.
You can base your efforts to optimize for accessibility on the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Here are a few quick tips for getting started:
- Include alternative text for images and photos
- Use high-contrast colors
- Choose fonts that are easy to read (sans serif is best), and don’t use more than three different fonts across the website
- Provide captioning or transcripts for podcast episodes and videos
- Use simple language – aim for a 6th-8th grade reading level
The more people who can access your website and leverage its resources, the better. By optimizing for accessibility, you’ll ensure that you aren’t shutting out anyone from being able to get involved with your cause.
Plus, more and more, courts are considering websites to be public accommodations that fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Get ahead of the curve before web accessibility becomes law, and do right by all your supporters.
5. Use CTAs to inspire giving
A call-to-action (CTA) is simply a statement that inspires someone to act. By placing CTAs, along with clickable buttons, across your website, you can direct your website visitors to your most important online resources and get them to make a move after being inspired by the information on your site.
However, to be the most effective, your CTAs should be well-worded. You want them to catch your visitors’ eyes and encourage them to click through and complete an action. Here are some examples of well-written CTAs that will inspire people to take the next step:
- Join the fight against cancer!
- Donate to save more cats in your area
- Learn more about our work with the homeless
- Sign up for our mailing list to stay updated on our latest findings
- Register for our annual charity auction, our biggest event of the year!
- Show us a little love – subscribe to our podcast
Your CTAs should also stand out visually on your web pages. Consider pairing your CTAs with graphics or other images that draw attention to them so they can’t be missed.
6. Leverage SEO best practices to drive traffic to your website
It’s all fine and good to have a well-designed website, but if no one is visiting it, it’s not a very effective marketing tool. Setting up a website and never directing traffic to it is like mailing a bunch of birthday party invitations to an address that doesn’t exist – not an effective use of your time or money!
To get more eyes on your website, you should employ search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Using these best practices can help your website get more organic traffic (as opposed to paid traffic). Cornershop Creative’s guide to SEO for nonprofits explains how it works: “SEO raises the position on the search engine results page your content is placed in, increasing the chances someone will see it when scrolling through their page results.”
Here are a few SEO best practices to get your pages ranking higher on results pages:
- Regularly create and publish high-quality, useful content
- Link to high-performing pages on your website and other websites, and strive to secure links to your website
- Target specific keywords in your written content that will signal to search engines that you’re relevant for certain search queries
SEO can be a little complicated, and for some organizations, it can be tempting to dive into linking schemes, stuff keywords into web pages unnaturally, or use other strategies to game the system. Playing fair and doing SEO the right way will pay off in the long run and help you avoid being penalized by search engines.
Your website can do a lot for your nonprofit, and it’s especially important as a digital marketing tool. Use these six strategies to make your website a shining beacon for your cause. As you implement them, you’ll see your community grow and support for your mission increase!
About the Author | Ira Horowitz
With 15 years’ experience, Ira is an expert in nonprofit online communications and online fundraising. His work has resulted in increased funds and resounding supporter engagement for hundreds of organizations.
Ira oversees our project management team and works with clients to provide our clients with the best possible final product. He also manages all of our strategic engagements and helps guide nonprofits to determine their long-term strategy goals for online communications.