websites in questionI do a lot of research for Step by Step Fundraising and it’s other sites. Recently I had a project requiring information from a variety of non profit websites. It didn’t take long to realize that some websites were more frustrating than helpful while others were easy to explore and informative. If the structure of the website is well laid out and is consistently maintained it should be a pleasure to visit.

Here are some tips I came up with gained from that most recent experience.

Your most important information should be on the first page of your website with quick access to the main point of the website. For example…if the main point of your website is to give people another way to donate to your charity, be sure to provide a means in which to do that.

Put yourself in the donors seat. He’s received a letter from you regarding your charity and decides he’d like more information before he makes a donation. He types in the address of your website. What does he see? Does your website appear quickly or do you have it bogged down with heavy graphics? Can he quickly scan the first page to find what he needs or where to go to find pertinent information? Structure and maintenance as well as simplicity and cleanliness are essential!

I couldn’t believe how many times I came across a website, knowing that the organization continued to function, only to find old information. It was like somebody abandoned their home and left all the furniture; dusty at that! Your website may be the only time a donor meets you. Make sure someone is home when he comes knocking on your door.

People are very wary when giving money over the internet. Make your donors feel safe. Do you have valid identification that is easy to find? Your contact information should include an email address, a phone number and a mailing address. It’s even better if you can provide an individuals name and email address. Place the information on the first page as well as providing a contact link. I spent a lot of time searching for this very information on an unbelievably large number of non profit websites.

Non profits exist through charitable giving and fundraising. It is very likely yours has a yearly fundraiser. Does your audience know when and where? Again, this should be first page information.

Who are you? I’m not referring to your name in this case, but the personality of your non profit. What are your accomplishments? Why do you exist and what is your real purpose? Share your passion by posting stories from yours and others experiences.

Remember to provide the who, what, when, where and why when designing your non profit website.

Here are some articles from other sites that provide additional tips:

10-Point Basic Website Checklist for Nonprofits from Non Profit Marketing Guide

Locally Focused Web Site Tips for Connecting With Your Customers: Part One from Local Point

Nonprofit Web Sites that Work — 3 of My Favorites from Nancy E. Schwartz of the Getting Attention blog

Great Websites: You don’t need 1 million visits to be successful a special report from The NonProfit Times

Posted on 18 April 2008

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