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Turn Your Nonprofit Website Into a Fundraising Tool: 5 Tips

Your website is your organization’s online hub for marketing upcoming fundraising events, providing information about your mission, and increasing your online donation rate. With a targeted content strategy and intuitive design that meets your supporters’ needs, your website can become your most powerful fundraising tool. 

Here are five top tips for turning your nonprofit website into an effective fundraising resource:

  1. Put donors at the center of your story
  2. Streamline the donation process
  3. Optimize your website for mobile giving
  4. Prioritize accessibility and compliance
  5. Take a continuous improvement approach

Many top nonprofit websites use these strategies to convert casual website visitors to true supporters. As you read through these tips, think about how you can best incorporate them into your nonprofit’s digital strategy. Let’s get started. 

1. Put donors at the center of your story

The first step in transforming your nonprofit website into a powerful fundraising tool is understanding how your visitors interact with your site, which requires taking a closer look at the donor journey. 

According to Kanopi, the donor journey is the process new supporters go through to learn more about your nonprofit and decide whether they want to donate. The journey begins with new audience members discovering your nonprofit and learning more about it. Then, they decide whether or not to give. If they donate, your nonprofit should express its appreciation as soon as possible to increase the chances that the supporter will give again. 

Understanding the donor journey is an important aspect of turning your nonprofit website into an effective fundraising tool. The stages are Awareness, Research, Decision, Appreciation, and Repeat.

Your nonprofit website is a crucial resource during the awareness and research phases. This tool tells potential supporters about your organization’s story, ongoing programs, and mission. 

Your story is the compelling message conveyed through your website that lets visitors know why they should consider supporting your cause. Placing prospective donors at the center of your story helps 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 by: 

  • Using “you” language. For example, say, “Your support helps feed hundreds of families in need” instead of “Our organization feeds hundreds of families in need.” Use tangible examples to clearly illustrate the impact of each donor’s support.
  • Highlighting past accomplishments and recognizing past donors. Feature successes from past projects or programs across your website. You can also include a digital donor wall that lists donors’ names, showing your commitment to public donor recognition. 
  • Keeping content uplifting and positive. Regaling website visitors with sad stories might get them to give once, but it isn’t necessarily the best way to start a long-term relationship. Keep your tone hopeful to project an image of positivity and growth. 

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 nonprofit’s web design and content reflect that. 

2. Streamline the donation process

If supporters make it to your online donation page, they care enough about your cause to consider making a gift. However, it’s still not guaranteed that they will. A streamlined donation page ensures you won’t accidentally turn anyone away at the last minute with a long or inconvenient online giving process. 

Optimizing your donation process usually requires just a couple of website design tweaks. Here are our top tips for a better user experience: 

  • Keep the 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 essential information and have a simple design. 
  • Brand your donation page to your nonprofit to help promote brand recognition and reassure donors that their gifts will go directly to your organization. 
  • Make it easy for site visitors to find your donation page. Incorporate calls-to-action throughout your website and add a clear link within your navigation menu to help visitors quickly find your online giving form. 
  • Optimize your donation form to maximize gifts with suggested giving amounts, matching gift information, and a recurring gift option. 

Ensure your online donation tool is integrated with your content management system (CMS) and payment processor. Centralizing your donor data in one accessible place helps simplify future outreach efforts, such as sending donor thank-you emails. 

3. Optimize your website for mobile giving

According to statistics gathered by Nonprofits Source, one in four donors discover new nonprofits from their phones, and 25% of all donors give using their mobile devices. 

Why are mobile devices so popular for donors? Because they allow them to give on the go! 

Being able to donate as soon as donors feel motivated is critical, especially now when they can easily get distracted by emails, texts, and other notifications.

Your CMS should allow you to create mobile and desktop responsive content automatically, but they are also a few elements you can quickly verify manually:

  • Make sure your website’s mobile version is streamlined and user-friendly in portrait mode to ensure a positive user experience when visitors hold their phones vertically.
  • Use a sticky navigation menu that stays in the same place on the screen even as visitors scroll down your site.
  • Mobile users must use their fingers to click items on your website, so make text and buttons large enough to press easily.

Donors also like to share information about the nonprofits they support. You can also incorporate social share buttons on your mobile donation page to allow supporters to easily post about their donation and encourage others to give.

4. Prioritize accessibility and compliance

Web accessibility is the process of ensuring that anyone can access and use your website. Web compliance describes how your site complies with specific laws and regulations like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).

An accessible website opens your organization’s content up to a broader audience and helps maintain legal compliance. 

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

  • When using multimedia like video, images, and quotes, include alternative text for people with visual impairments or those using screen readers.
  • Ensure your content can be read easily by following color contrast standards. Most text should have a contrast ratio of 4.5:1.
  • Avoid solely using sensory media like sound and visuals when conveying essential information. If you do, make sure you also have a text version.
  • Ensure your online forms, such as your donation page and volunteer registration form, are also accessible. Use alternative text for images, clearly label your form fields, and eliminate any time restrictions.

You can boost your fundraising potential with a website that is accessible and engaging.

5. Take a continuous improvement approach

Digital fundraising best practices are constantly evolving. Your nonprofit’s website strategy should also evolve to keep up with changing donor preferences. Plus, your website will require ongoing maintenance to remain secure and updated.

We recommend taking a continuous improvement approach. As issues, fixes, or updates arise, address them immediately instead of saving them for a larger “website update day” that may happen less frequently. Regular updates protect your site from security threats and prevent pages from breaking if a module or integration update isn’t compatible.

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

To take a continuous improvement approach, make sure to:

  • Consistently update content, 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 or modules as soon as they become available to avoid security or user experience issues.
  • Check your nonprofit database and website metrics to track donation conversions. If you notice that your online fundraising rates are decreasing, consider how you can improve your website to combat this.

A continuous improvement approach sets your website up for continued growth. By checking in every so often, you can take the necessary steps to expand your CMS functionality and integrations, as well as adjust your website marketing strategy if needed.

Wrapping Up

As you can see, your website plays a critical role in your online fundraising efforts. Make sure you start your online supporter engagement off on the right foot with a CMS that is ready to support you for the long haul and website design and content that will set you up for success. 

This blog is an original work of the attributed author and is shared with permission via Foundant Technologies' website for informative purposes only as part of our educational content in the philanthropic sector. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect Foundant's stance on this topic. If you have questions or comments, please reach out to our team.

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