The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Is your website broken?

As part of Network for Good’s Fundraising Fundamentals premium training, I am reviewing a lot of nonprofit websites to offer feedback and suggestions for improvement. While most of these sites are not “broken” in the technical sense, many of them are broken when we look at them through a fundraising lens. Without clear paths to donate to your cause, your website is working against your fundraising efforts. This is especially dangerous in December when donors are making more gifts online than in any other month.

Whether or not your donors give online through your website, many will be visiting your nonprofit’s website to learn more about your organization. This month, your nonprofit home page should be all about year-end fundraising. You need to make sure your online presence gives prospective donors a fast and easy way to find out more about your programs, understand where the money goes, and (of course) DONATE.

So, in these last few critical weeks of the year, give your site a once over to see if it’s broken in the fundraising sense. Want to make it better? Here are some fast fundraising fixes for getting more donations this December:

Keep it big, bold, and above the fold.
This is what all good donate buttons should strive to be. Your buttons should stand out and be large enough to find and click within a few seconds of landing on your website. It should look like a button and give donors a visual cue that it is clickable.

Miriam’s Kitchen has a nicely-placed, large donate button that is obviously clickable and stands out from the rest of their page:

Miriam's Kitchen Home Page

Take donors directly to your form.
When donors click on your donate button, don’t take them on the scenic route. Send them directly to your form and make sure that it is optimized for giving. Your page should make the donation process simple and rewarding. (Make sure your donation page is ready for prime time with these tips.)

Offer more than one path to give.
Include multiple donate links on your home page (and other key pages) that go straight to your donation form. Use a combination of buttons, text links, and headlines to appeal to all types of visitors. Generally, more links mean more traffic to your donation page.

Best Friends Animal Society offers three ways for people to immediately give right from their home page:

Best Friends Animal Society Home Page

Make your donation page only one click away.
Along the same lines, visitors should never be more than one click away from your donation page at all times. Keep the option to give visible and easily accessible no matter where a visitor is on your site.

Use consistent language for buttons and links.
Be explicit and don’t make donors wonder what you’re asking them to do. Focus on one of the following words: Give, Donate, or Contribute—and stick to that one word throughout the donation process. Asking people to join is problematic unless membership is truly the core of your organization. Asking people to support you is largely meaningless to most users and does not signify giving.

Use a home page takeover.
Also known as a lightbox, splash screen, pop-up, or even “homepage hijack.” Whatever name you prefer, this is a special version of your home page that has a sole purpose of generating donations. A year-end takeover should be bold and clear and offer no more than three options: donate now, learn more, and click to the usual home page. Some organizations have had success in making the splash screen the actual donation form. These types of takeovers should go up at least for the last week of the year.

Here’s a wonderful example from Habitat for Humanity New York City:

Habitat for Humanity NYC Home Page

Don’t have the option to add a lightbox to your website this month? There are other easy ways to make your home page focused on fundraising. N Street Village‘s home page is a great example of how to incorporate this same idea into your existing website design.

N Street Village Home Page

(For more on how you can incorporate lightboxes into your year-end website plans, Pamela Grow has some advice and Mandy O’Neill of Connected Nonprofit shares how and why lightboxes work.)

Show where the money goes.
If you don’t have it already, create a simple “Why Donate” page and provide links to this page from your “About Us” section, home page, and donation form. On this page, include easy-to-understand pie charts and clear descriptions of where your money comes from and where it goes. Add links to your full financials and your annual report. Use reader-friendly language that a donor can quickly scan and understand in under 30 seconds. No jargon or complicated (read: boring) copy that makes donors’ eyes glaze over.

Highlight your endorsements.
Testimonials, ratings, and seals of approval are all powerful cues that tell potential donors that yours is an organization that they can trust, because others are willing to speak on your behalf. Showcase these on your home page, your donation page, as well as your “Why Donate” page.

Don’t forget about mobile.
With a high number of people reading email on mobile devices, the key landing pages of your website, and your donation forms, need to be mobile friendly and easy to use on smartphones. Keeping things uncluttered and focused on one clear call to action will help. (Find out how to make your nonprofit’s website mobile friendly with these simple tweaks.)

Taking care of these website must-haves will help your organization make the most of its year-end campaign. Happy Fundraising!

For more tips on making your nonprofit website the best it can be, download our free ebook: How to Create an Effective Nonprofit Website.

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About This Blog

Amanda Khoury
Marketing Manager

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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