Common Mistakes of Nonprofit Websites

Lisa Tarshis
December 8, 2020

If you’ve been following our blog, you know that we’re talking about planning for next year and specifically focusing on the communications and marketing collateral every fundraising department needs to be successful. Last week we focused on your case for support. This week, coming off the heels of Giving Tuesday and heading into end of year, we’ll focus on websites.

Last week I received tons of appeal emails asking me to give for Giving Tuesday. For many, I wasn’t even sure how I got on the list or what the organization did so I clicked over to the website to learn more. I checked out the info page, read a bit about the programs, and in some cases found my heartstrings tugged and was ready to make a token donation.

In two cases, I couldn’t find the donate button…

This is a common mistake I see many organizations make. A website is a huge part of your online persona, so it makes sense that all of the “about us” information is top of mind. You want people to be able to access your programs and services above all else – I hear you. Yet, I think you agree that fundraising is crucial too.

Here are three common mistakes your nonprofit website might be making and some advice on how to remedy the situation before the end of the year.

It’s not easy to find your donate page

If your website loads and a user can’t already see where to donate, it’s too hard. Data shows that people spend less than 15 seconds on a website, so it’s important to give your audience what they need in the blink of an eye. Here’s what you can do:

  • Add a main donate button to the top corner of your website that links to your donation form. Make this bold and in an on-brand color so that it stands out.
  • Include a “support us” or “give today” option on your main navigation bar that appears on every page of your website.
  • Make sure every page has a footer that gives the option to make a gift. Think about putting this alongside your regular contact information.

It takes too many clicks to donate

There’s a reason operating systems have integrated an auto-fill option into almost all forms. Users want to spend as little time as possible completing a payment. The same goes for your donors – they want to complete their donation in as few clicks and with as few fields as possible. If you have a donate page that links to another information page that links to a form that links to a payment system, you’re going to lose people. Try this instead:

  • Create one donate page that makes your case for support very clear.
  • Include one donate button on that page that takes donors to a simple form.
  • Limit the donate form to only the essential fields. If your organization is never going to send a piece of mail, do you really need an address? If you don’t use middle names in your annual report list, can you remove that field from the form? Think critically about what’s essential to you.

You don’t share the impact of the gift

Have you ever gotten to a donate page only to find a one-liner about being grateful for your support? Without more information, I question where my dollars are going and how my gift will really make a difference. Last week, we talked about your case for support and why it’s essential to your fundraising strategy. This is your moment to let it shine! On your main donate page, be sure to share information about where dollars go at your organization. Try starting some sentences with:

  • Your gift allows us to...
  • A gift of $100 provides...
  • Donors like you help us...

In our increasingly digital world, nonprofit websites are essential to the way we raise money. Don’t let common mistakes keep you from bringing in the funds you need. If you’re not sure whether your website passes the test, download today’s freebie to complete a quick and easy assessment.