What Is the Purpose of a Website for Nonprofit Organizations?
Creating a great website is a crucial element of your nonprofit’s communication strategy. Your website can open doors to your target audience and ensure your organization gets the visibility it needs to succeed.
Not only should it share your mission statement, but also encourage website visitors to be curious about how to participate or join your organization. If your website does a good job of communicating its goals, visitors would be inspired to join as a donor, member, or volunteer.
In this article we will go over:
- Why a Website is Important
- Defining Your Website’s Purpose
- How to Design the Site Around Its Purpose
Let’s jump in!
Why a Website is Important
Before you invest the time and money into creating a website, you should understand why you are doing it, and what it will do for your organization. This can help you to understand the return on investment you will get, and therefore how important it is to have a proper website.
Your website is the gateway for outsiders to learn about everything your nonprofit does, and the goals you have for the future. According to market and consumer data specialist Statista, the United States ranks third in the world for internet usage with 313 million active internet users.
Even if your ideal donor, volunteer, or member is not tech savvy, we can promise you that your website will help to spread awareness for your cause and help you gain revenue and human capital.
For example, according to the 2020 Global Trends in Giving Report, 63% of donors in North America prefer to give online. That means without a website you may only be reaching 37% of potential donors.
This impact does not just apply to donors, but is also mimicked with volunteers and members. All of these parties look to your website for detailed information about your organization, and more importantly, how they can help.
Defining Your Website’s Purpose
Now that you know how crucial it is for your nonprofit to have a website, we can start uncovering the purpose of your organization’s site. This won’t be the same for every nonprofit, and you should take the time to determine what is the best fit for your organization.
To begin, you should think about what you want your main goal of the website to be. Is it to increase donations, gain members or volunteers, or simply to raise awareness for your cause?
If you are thinking that you want your website to do all of these things, we hear you! While your website does have the potential to serve all of these purposes, it is best to find one specific objective to dedicate your efforts to. The easiest way to do this is to consider your target audience and help prioritize content, clicks, and metrics.
Your website is published for anyone in the world to view. That is the beauty of the internet -- it can reach anyone.
However, you’d need to target your mission statement and website content to certain audiences. Otherwise, if you try to reach everyone at once, your message will be too diluted.
Some possible target audiences include:
Potential new members
Once you’ve investigated who might be visiting your website, you can rank the type of visitor in order of priority.
To do this, think about who each of these visitors are and what the best ways to reach them are. You should also tie this to the goals of your organization. By comparing these two factors you should be able to find the perfect audience that:
Is best reached through online channels, and
Fits with the goals of your organization
For example, if your organization wants to increase membership by 50% in the next 5 years, you might consider potential new members to be your first priority target. However, if these potential new members are best reached in person, you should instead focus your website on another audience that is more likely to use your website as a resource.
Pro Tip: When examining your target audience, you should create personas for each type of visitor. A persona is essentially making up a "character" that would fit in this group of people. To create a persona, you could describe the visitors average age, internet usage, and interest in your organization.
After determining who you are trying to reach you will have a better idea of what your website’s purpose will be.
How to Design the Site Around Its Purpose
After you have a clear understanding of the objective for your website, you can determine how to create your website around this. It is important to note that we do not mean that if your website’s priority visitor is members to exclude sections about donors, volunteers, and corporate sponsors. We will walk you through the aspects of your site that you can center around your purpose.
Define the Mission for Your Nonprofit
If you are the founder of the organization, you probably know its mission statement like the back of your hand. It needs to be crystal clear for your website visitors too!
The website should clearly say your nonprofit’s mission statement. You should make it visible on the home page, so that visitors see it immediately. However, you can also add it to other pages, especially the "About" page that explains the history and current status of your organization.
You can also share your nonprofit’s values in the mission statement. For example, at Springly we focus on 3 values: simplicity, benevolence, and excellence. These values guide our priorities, collaborations, and next steps.
What values are central to your nonprofit’s mission?
Double check if your mission statement answers these 3 questions:
What is your nonprofit’s mission? What existing problem is your nonprofit working on?
What are your nonprofit’s core values?
What differentiates you from similar nonprofits?
Let’s take a look at Amnesty International’s website, as an example:
Amnesty International’s mission statement is clear at first glance: "We campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all."
To find out more, visitors click on "Who We Are" to read:
Its values and mission are emphasized on the website through powerful text and images. Based on their clear mission statement, anyone who visits the website understands that Amnesty International advocates for justice and activism.
After your mission statement is shared on the website, you also need to make sure everyone on your team knows it equally well.
This shared knowledge and understanding of the mission statement will unite your website’s style, design, tone and content. Anyone managing other aspects of your nonprofit will also be able to stick with the mission statement.
Who is Your Target Audience?
When you’re deciding what kind of content to post on your website, you can dedicate the appropriate number of pages to each type of visitor. Keep in mind the list of priority visitors you created earlier, and ensure that you have a page dedicated to your highest priorities.
For each type of visitor, you should consider why they are visiting your website. It is vital that these visitors can find whatever information they are looking for!
Furthermore, for your top priority visitor, or target audience, you should attempt to create even more value on the rest of your site. You can do this by targeting your information towards this group of people.
For example, if your target audience is members, your homepage should be centered around the important information that you want members to know about your organization. This can be done through links to other pages, like your membership benefits page, or just vital information for this visitor to know, like when your next meeting will be.
Before creating the content for your homepage, about us, and the news page you should think "what will (insert target audience here) want to know from this page". Then be sure to include this information!
You can also format your website to fit with your website purpose and target audience by creating call-to-actions (CTAs) that guide this visitor through your website. A call to action for a website is usually a button that directs visitors to the page your website prioritizes the most. For example, if the purpose of your website is to increase donations, your CTA will lead visitors to the donation page.
By keeping your target audience in mind throughout your website creation process you will be able to build the most effective site possible!
Your website is the window into your nonprofit’s mission and work. For anyone visiting your website, the message you are communicating needs to be clear and consistent.
Now that you have a website that is ready to attract visitors that are in line with your goals, you can dive into developing your nonprofit’s communication strategy.
Springly is trusted by 15,000+ nonprofits to easily build a website, manage a database, and manage fundraising campaigns.
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