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Turn Your Nonprofit Website into a Fundraising Tool: 5 Tips

Modern fundraising is primarily focused online these days. The growing internet, increased human dependence on technology, and a global pandemic keeps most donor engagements virtual.

That’s why your nonprofit website is so critical! Not only can it market upcoming fundraising events and be the resource for online content on your mission, but it can also increase your online donor conversion rate and fundraising success. 

With a focused content strategy and intuitive design that meets your supporters’ needs, your website can become your most powerful fundraising tool. 

At Kanopi, we work closely with nonprofits just like yours to help them create the best website possible with a data-based user strategy and site development tips. Here are the top tips we recommend:

  1. Put donors at the center of your nonprofit story
  2. Streamline the donation process
  3. Optimize your website for giving on the go
  4. Ensure the website is fully accessible and compliant
  5. Continue to check-in and update your website

Your nonprofit website is likely an investment you already have. These simple tweaks can make all the difference and bring your fundraising to the next level! Ready to get started? Let’s begin.


1. Put donors at the center of your nonprofit story

If you want to turn your nonprofit site into your top fundraising tool, you need to think about everything through your donors’ eyes. Firstly, consider how people are finding out about your mission. Taking insight from Kanopi’s depiction of the donor journey, the first step is awareness of your mission and existence. Then comes research, then making the decision to give. 

During the research stage, prospective donors will be looking to your website. This is the place that not only tells them about your mission but also what you’re currently doing to help your community and your overall nonprofit story. 

This story usually resonates with supporters the most and can be the driving factor for them becoming a donor. Your nonprofit’s story is important for capturing attention, so placing your donors at the center can help them visualize how their gift makes a genuine impact. 

As your most important platform for online engagement, your website is the perfect place to tell your story and place supporters in the center of it. You can do this by:

  • Communicating your mission statement clearly and letting new prospects know exactly what your nonprofit’s goals are.
  • Using language with “you” in it. For example, an effective sentence can be, “You can help us feed ten families in need.” Use tangible examples to make it clear exactly what the donors’ support actually means.
  • Highlighting past accomplishments and shouting out some of past donors. Choose a variety of different accomplishments and donor types, as site visitors might be able to relate with or envision themselves as one of them. This item will work well on your homepage.
  • Keeping content uplifting and positive. This tactic will make your donors feel good and show them that your organization has done meaningful work in the past. Bogging them down with negative or sad stories might get them to give once, but it isn’t necessarily the best way to start a long relationship.

Something about your nonprofit’s story resonates with donors enough they’ll give both their time and money to your organization. New donors give to your organization because they care about your cause and long-term donors continue giving because they know that their contributions make a genuine difference. Make sure your website content and nonprofit story reflect that. 


2. Streamline the donation process

If supporters make it to your donation page, it means they care enough about your cause to consider making a gift— however, it’s still not guaranteed that they will. It’s not uncommon for even the most passionate supporters to turn away from giving just because the donation process is inconvenient or takes too long. 

How can you streamline the donation process? With a couple of website design tweaks and donation form optimizations, you’re sure to see online fundraising rise. Simply using a branded page instead of a general PayPal form can increase donations on average by 38%.

Here are our top tips for simplicity in user experience:

  • Keep donation page design uncluttered and straightforward. You don’t want to distract users or make the giving process longer than it has to be. Your form should only ask for the essentials as not to bog down users with unnecessary questions. 
  • Embed your donation form on a branded page. This way, you don’t send donors to a third-party page, adding another step to giving. 
  • Make it easy for site visitors to find your donation page. Consider your site’s nonprofit user experience (UX) and imagine how someone will look for your donation page. Incorporate calls-to-action throughout your website and add a clear link on your navigation menu. 
  • Optimize your donation form to increase gifts with suggested giving amounts, impact levels for each suggestion, and a recurring gift option. 

Ensure that your online donation tool is integrated with your content management system (CMS) and payment processor so that donor data is centralized in one accessible place and there’s less risk of any fraud. 


3. Optimize your website for giving on the go

It’s no secret that mobile devices and phones are essential to consider when it comes to your website. These days, 1 in 4 donors discover new nonprofits from their phones. 25% of all donors give using their mobile devices. Total online giving has been increasing steadily every year since 2012.

Why are mobile devices so popular for donors? Because it allows you to give on the go! 

Whether you’re commuting by bus or waiting in line for a to-go coffee, being able to give as soon as you’re inspired to do so is more likely to result in an actual donation than waiting until you get home to use your computer. 

This practice is also called contextual giving. Being able to donate as soon as the context sparks the idea is critical, especially now when we can easily get distracted by emails, the latest Netflix show, and the 24-hour news cycle. 

So, make sure your website is optimized for mobile use. Your CMS should have the capabilities to create mobile and desktop responsive content automatically, but they’re also a couple of modifications that you can quickly do on your own to account for different screen sizes:

  • Stick to portrait mode as around 90% of mobile sites use vertical navigation
  • Use a sticky navigation menu so even as the user scrolls down your site so that the menu stays in the same place on their screen
  • Go big with text and buttons, especially since mobile users have to use their fingers to click items, which can be inaccurate at times

Don’t think that appealing to mobile donors isn’t important because your current donor audience is older. Your next generation of supporters is made up of today’s youth, and if your website isn’t up to their standards, then you’re quickly forgotten. Make these easy changes and get your mobile donors giving!


4. Ensure the website is fully accessible and compliant

Though this might not seem like it directly affects your online fundraising rate, but if your website isn’t fully accessible and compliant, then you’re turning away potential supporters for no reason at all. 

Web accessibility describes ensuring that anyone can access your website despite ability or needs. Web compliance describes how your site complies with specific laws and regulations like the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

Not only would an inaccessible website turn away prospects and foster an unsafe and exclusive culture, but it can even leave you open to potential compliance charges and legal repercussions.

Here are some quick tips to ensure your web accessibility and compliance:

  • When using multimedia like video, images, and quotes, be sure to include alternative text for people with visual impairments or using screen-readers.
  • Make sure all of your content can be read easily by following color contrast standards. Most text should have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
  • Stay away from using sensory media like sound and appearance when conveying essential information. If you do, make sure you also have a text version. 

With more people able to access and engage with your website, the more likely it is that you’ll receive more gifts! Thus, prioritizing website accessibility and maintaining regular compliance is key if you want to turn your site into a fundraising tool. 


5. Continue to check-in and update your website

While making these changes to your nonprofit website can do wonders for your online fundraising efforts, you shouldn’t usually leave many site optimizations and fixes to the last minute. 

We recommend taking a continuous improvement approach. This means that as issues, fixes, or updates come up, you address them immediately instead of saving them for your “website update day” that comes once every couple of months. Otherwise, you’re just leaving your site unoptimized and potentially even broken if a module or integration update isn’t compatible.

Remember, small tweaks and changes to your site and CMS every so often are way less resource and time exhaustive as a more comprehensive site optimization project or website overhaul. 

To take a continuous improvement approach, make sure to:

  • Consistently update content as needed, like your events calendar, social media information, and blog posts. Also, take the time to weed out content that no longer supports your mission.
  • Update your CMS and any plugins/modules as soon as they become available to avoid unintended downtime.
  • Check your nonprofit database and website metrics to see how online conversions are doing. If you notice that your online fundraising has gone down, consider how you can improve your website to combat this. 

In the end, taking a continuous improvement approach is mainly there to set your website up for continued growth. After all, you don’t want to outgrow your site as soon as you reach a goal or accomplish something big. By checking in every so often, you can take the necessary steps to expand your CMS system and nonprofit integrations, as well as adjust your website marketing strategy if needed. 


Wrapping Up 

As you can see, your website plays an incredibly valuable role in your online fundraising efforts. An optimized website can even turn away your most passionate supporters. Have you ever revisited a website that gave you a bad experience the first time? Probably not. 


Make sure that you start your engagement off on the right foot and that your CMS is prepared to support you for the long haul, and start treating your nonprofit website for what it is: a critical fundraising tool!

About the Author

As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions. Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew

Profile Photo of Anne Stefanyk