Like for all businesses, not for profit organisations need a website to reach the people they serve. Depending on the kind of services, or funding model of the not for profit organisation, there may be a dual objective of the website, to reach the people they serve, and to appeal to people for support. Whatever the model of the not for profit, the website needs to be a tool that drives engagement and helps achieve your objectives. So what are the essentials of a website for not for profit? Here are 5:
1. Clear path to conversion
Is your organisation reliant on donations? Memberships? Product sales? Volunteers? A combination? There needs to be a priority of layout real estate given to a call to action to access the means to receive donations, membership applications & payments, volunteer applications, and products to purchase. Think about where on the screens your call to action for these can be placed, particularly on mobile devices. Which leads to the next point.
Think of your audience, your target market, then think of their demographic characteristics and any disabilities that might exist among your audience. You need to cater for them. Consider your choice of font and font size, ensuring the site is accessible to people with vision difficulties. The W3C has a set of technical Content Accessibility Guidelines to adhere to, and you should be aware of the minimum requirement for your particular service. If you are an Australian Government agency, you are required to comply to Level A.
Also important is to ensure that it is easily consumed on a mobile device. We have undertaken a significant study into how people with disabilities access websites, and tablets feature very highly in device of choice. It is now an imperative to take a mobile first approach to website layout & user experience.
3. Ease of use
Consider your staff and their capacity to maintain the website. An easy to use content management system such as WordPress or SilverStripe is probably preferable over Joomla or Drupal for this reason. Ensure there are manuals or guides for managing content, and that your service provider is one that is very strong in the provision of assistance and customer service.
4. Content Presentation & User Experience
Most not for profit organisations need to present large amounts of content about what they do and detail in the services they provide. It is important to do this in a way that makes the content easy to consume and browse through. Also, you need to clearly represent what you do, and the solutions you provide very early and prominently in your website content flow. Presentation techniques that achieve this, while at the same time being easy to use and navigate, are essential.
5. Media & Supporter friendly
Not for profit organisations often need exposure to survive, they need their good word spread far and wide, so a news & events section that has clear points of contact and calls to share via social media are vital. This should also be prominently displayed on the home page with a call to action for media organisations to access your newsworthy content and clear contact details to learn more.
We have developed sites and worked with a large number of not for profit organisations over a long period of time, and can work with any organisation to ensure you are best presented online.