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How to Build a Nonprofit Website

8 min read
April 19, 2023
Neon One Staff
To build a nonprofit website, you need to focus on transparency and impact. In this image, a person sits at a computer looking at a report from a nonprofit.

According to the 2023 Nonprofit Tech for Good Report, nonprofit websites are the single most effective fundraising tool out there. 

Websites are important sources of trust for new or prospective supporters—a good one will connect visitors to your cause and make them feel confident that they can make an impact by donating.

To be effective, your own website should incorporate several key elements that will make it easy for people to find, navigate, and donate. In this article, we’ll cover six of the most important ones.

How to Build a Nonprofit Website With Impact 

Your website should help you raise money and engage new supporters, but that’s not its only purpose! Your existing community will also use it to find information about your impact, your events, and other ways they can get involved.

You might be familiar with some basic best practices, like choosing simple fonts and using your brand’s colors, logos, and people-centered images. Those basics are a great foundation! But your site’s content, navigation, and search engine performance are all important, too.

If you want to build an effective website, you should consider incorporating:

  1. An SEO strategy
  2. A consistently updated blog
  3. Financial disclosures
  4. Trust indicators
  5. Accessibility features
  6. A prominent, consistent donate button

We’ll include some basic pointers for each of these elements in this blog. If you want to go even more in-depth on building nonprofit websites, check out this resource:

1. Make Yourself Visible Through SEO

You could have the best website of all time, but it won’t do you much good if nobody can find it. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

SEO is the practice of using content, site formatting, and metadata—data that describes other data—to make your website appear in search results when somebody searches a term related to you. 

An SEO strategy is an incredibly important part of maintaining your site’s visibility online. But only 37% of nonprofits have one in place. If you don’t have one, you may be missing the opportunity to make your site discoverable to people searching for causes just like yours.

Your SEO strategy should include plans for building and structuring site pages, creating content and URLs, managing images, and even using audio content. It will also include how each of those activities will help you rank for the kinds of keywords people will use to find you online.

Here’s an example. If your organization addresses dyslexia and low childhood literacy, you’ll want to create content, web pages, and even URLs using “dyslexia nonprofits” or “childhood literacy nonprofits” as keywords. With some careful planning (and a little time), those pages would then appear in search results for people using those terms.

Nonprofit SEO is an extensive subject, and it involves lots of different tactics. But one big part of an SEO strategy will be your blog.

2. Keep Your Community Updated With a Blog

Your blog is the best place to keep your community informed about events, appeals, outreach, and programs. It’s also a valuable place to share impact stories! Once it’s on your blog, that content can be shared easily in newsletters, on your social channels, and in tons of other places. 

That content can also support your SEO strategy.

Take the childhood literacy organization from earlier as an example. Their SEO strategy may include writing articles around things like phonics and the science of reading for dyslexia intervention. When individuals search for terms related to those phrases, those blog pieces will come up. They provide information the searcher needs and establish the organization as an authority. 

Consistent posting shows your human audience that your organization is doing great work and that their support is making a real difference. It’s also useful for showing web crawlers—the algorithms that categorize websites—that your site is active and contains valuable content.

Every new blog update you post will build authority and help your website rank highly in search results. Your article can be what helps donors find your organization, and they’ll work with other site content—like your financial disclosures—to prove your impact.

3. Be Transparent With Financial Disclosures

Existing donors want to know how their favorite nonprofits use their donations. Prospective donors want to understand how their gift will make an impact if they decide to give. This is why every nonprofit website should include a section dedicated to transparent financial disclosures. 

Whether it’s on your “About Us” page or a dedicated “Financials” section, you should include your Form 990 information and two to three years of annual reports on your site. 

Making this information prominent and visible helps to build trust with donors—even if they choose not to download that information or review it closely. Just the fact that you’re willing to share it is significant! 

You can take this to the next level by summarizing some of that financial information in charts or infographics. That will make it easy for site visitors to understand their potential impact without combing through pages and pages of information.

4. Prove Your Credentials With Trust Indicators

Trust indicators are signals that show site visitors that your organization has been vetted by other nonprofits or firms and found to be trustworthy. 

Common examples include validation from Charity Navigator, GuideStar, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, or another organization dedicated to vetting nonprofits. Try to include links to these various credentials alongside your financial information or on your “About Us” page. To learn more about adding trust indicators to your website and (especially) your donation pages, check out our article, How to Create a Safe Website for Your Nonprofit.

5. Stay Inclusive With Accessibility Features

Less than one quarter—22%—of nonprofit websites are designed for individuals with visual or hearing impairments. Meanwhile, 12 million people in the US have vision impairments, while over 5% of the world’s population is deaf or hard of hearing. If you don’t build your website with accessibility in mind, people in your community will have a hard time interacting with you and your content.

You can use some simple tools and processes to make your site accessible to everyone online. A simple example would include adding alt text and captions on your sites’ images so people using screen readers can understand that content. The same goes for providing subtitles on video content to make them useful for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. The goal should be to make your site easy to navigate for all users. You can learn a lot more about creating an accessible website experience for your supporters in the article below:

6. Simplify Donations Through Buttons and Forms

It should never be hard for someone to donate to your cause. You can use two tactics to make the donation process quick and easy for your site visitors.

The first is to include a prominent donate button in your site navigation. Because your site navigation stays the same on all of your site’s pages, this will make it easy for people to give regardless of where they are on your site. Make navigation even simpler by making the button a contrasting (but complementary!) color so it’s easy to locate.

That button should take people to a simple, efficient donation form that makes it easy for them to give. Building this kind of form is both an art and a science! Take a look at this nonprofit donation form example to learn more about creating a great donation page.

A donation form built in Neon CRM
A simple (and easy-to-find!) donation form will help you make your website into an effective fundraising channel.

Use Neon Websites to Build Your New Site

There’s a lot more to building an effective nonprofit website than choosing a cool layout and some nice images. You’ll also need to make it visible through search engine optimization and keep visitors engaged with fresh blog content. You’ll also want to include elements like financial information and an easy-to-use donation form for people who decide they want to give.

Neon Websites is a website builder created specifically for nonprofits who want to check these boxes. Our library of mission-specific templates, no-code layouts, and built-in tools (including a seamless integration with Neon CRM) give you the tools to build a website that demonstrates your impact and encourages visitors to get involved. Sound interesting? Here’s where you can learn more!

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