Mistakes to Avoid when Designing Your Nonprofit Website

By Ilia Jones | March 2021


The website for your nonprofit organization is more than just a fundraising tool—it's your digital front door. Your website is the place for potential donors to get to know you, learn more about your cause, and, hopefully, decide to become a contributing member of your community. However, to make a good impression on your website visitors and drive donations, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid. 

Bad or Outdated Web Design

One of the most common mistakes made by nonprofits is not investing in their website. Building a website can be overwhelming and time-consuming. And can take valuable resources away from other income-generating tasks, so it's often pushed to the back burner.

However, whether your website is five years old or built yesterday, there are still a few things to avoid. 

It's Not Optimized for mobile

More web surfing takes place on mobile devices than ever, so if your website isn't optimized for mobile, you may miss out on valuable web traffic. Whether your potential donors are in line at the supermarket or bored at home, they likely have their phone in hand.

Having a mobile-optimized website will make it easier for people to find you and learn about your cause, no matter where they are.

It's Trying to Do too much 

Rather than add pages to a website, it can seem easier to keep adding content to the homepage. However, this can lead to a crowded landing page that is difficult to parse through. And it can be challenging for visitors to know where to go or what you want them to do once they get there.

Keep your home page clean, with easy to find navigation, donation buttons and social media links. 

The Navigation is confusing

Navigation is there to help your visitor find what they are looking for on your site. It can help guide them toward information and, hopefully, toward making a donation and staying engaged with your organization on social media. 

If your navigation is confusing, however, they will likely get lost, bored and move on. 

Keep your navigation simple, to the point, and make sure that each page actually does what the navigation suggests. For example, your mission statement should be on the Our Mission or About page, not on your Contact Us page. 

It's Not Ranking 

Your website could be the most beautiful and well-designed site on the internet, but if no one can find it, no one will ever see it. Using SEO keywords relevant to your industry or cause, using heading styles consistently, and other SEO tactics can help your site rank higher. So your website lands on the first page of Google, not the seventeenth.

The Information is out of Date

People visit your website to learn more about what your nonprofit organization does and how they can get involved. Showing them last year's calendar of events is not helpful.

Keep a list of upcoming events, Zoom calls, volunteer opportunities, and fundraisers up to date and easy to find. And remove past events on a regular basis. Be sure to include dates, times, and other relevant information so that people can easily mark their calendars. After all, if it's on their calendar, they're more likely to remember and attend. 

Use content from recent events on your homepage, blog, newsletter or social media to share the latest news.


Hiding Valuable Content

A few pieces of information should be readily visible and easy to find on your website. 

Your Mission

Your nonprofit exists because you are passionate about helping your cause. This passion should also be what inspires visitors to your website to become engaged with your organization.

Your mission should be clear, speak from the heart, and be easy to find. Create an authentic mission statement and create an easy-to-locate page for it. When you share why you care, you're helping your website visitors understand why they should care as well. 

Where to Donate

The operating budget for a nonprofit organization is based on donations. So don't hide where people should go to donate! 

Use donation buttons and make them clearly visible on your most trafficked pages. Create a landing page for donations that explains how you will use the contributions toward your cause. And be sure to include the donation page in your site navigation. You can also add calls to action across your site that direct people to the donation page. 

Make it easy for people to donate and quickly understand why they should, and you should see results fast. 

Your Contact Information

Having your contact information on your website is a necessity. However, it is easily forgotten about on a site that isn't being maintained. 

Did you change your phone number? Update the website. Did you move to a new office building? Update the website. Are your hours of operation are different due to COVID-19? Update the website!

If people can't reach you, or your address doesn't match Google Maps, you will lose credibility that you may never get back. 


Not Connecting With Your Visitors

When people visit a website, for the first time or the tenth time, they were directed there from somewhere else or reminded of your organization. Keeping top of mind is an essential part of a digital marketing strategy. But rather than expending a lot of effort to attract everyone's attention, consider how you can attract the people most likely to support your cause. 

Not Targeting Your Audience

Who are the people visiting your website? Do you know where they are coming from or how they found you? You should. 

As well as knowing who is seeking you out, you should also define who you are seeking. Identifying your target audience will help you tailor your content, social media, and other strategies to attract them and keep them engaged. 

Not Capturing Leads

Just directing people to your site isn't enough. You should also try to capture their contact information so you can connect with them again. 

Using a newsletter signup form, offering a merch discount for an email address, or collecting contact information on your donation page are all great ways to capture leads. 

Once you have their information and know who they are, you can keep them in the conversation and keep your nonprofit organization top of mind. 

No Social Media Links

Odds are, your nonprofit is using social media to gain awareness and advance your cause. But are you linking to your social media from your website? And is your social media directing traffic back to your site?

Add social media links to all of your active (the keyword here is active!) accounts to your website's footer or on shareable content like blog posts. It can help you build your social media following. And the greater your social media following, the more awareness for your organization and cause. 


Not Using Visual Content Effectively

When it comes to using visual content, like images or videos, it's easy to go one of two common mistakes. You're putting them all together in a gallery or you're not using enough of them.  

Cramming Photos or Videos into a gallery page

You're proud of all of the great photos and videos you've accumulated. They capture your successes: epic events, smiling volunteers, high fives and handshakes. However, you've made the mistake of putting them all in one place to create an overwhelming wall of pictures and no context. 

Rather than cramming your photos and videos into a gallery, intersperse them throughout your site. 

Not using enough images

Going in the opposite direction, it's also possible that you're not using enough visual content.

Photos help to help break up the text and add visual interest. Use pictures to illustrate a point, show the success of a recent event or get people excited for your next volunteer opportunity. 

And don't forget to use Alt Text or captions to describe the images. It provides context for your website visitors, helps with SEO, and enriches the experience for your vision-impaired visitors. 

It's Easy to Make Mistakes

Luckily, once you're aware of them, they are also easy to fix. Hopefully, the common mistakes we've discussed here have helped you identify where your nonprofit website could use a little polish. 

Could your website use a set of fresh eyes or maybe a new look altogether? At ArcStone, we create beautiful, high-performing websites for nonprofits so you can focus on growing your organization and maximizing your impact. To learn more about how we help nonprofits or to schedule a meeting, contact us.  



Topics: Nonprofit Help