Categories: Industry Insights

11 Features Every Nonprofit Website Should Have

Published On: Sep 18, 2023

Have you ever wondered how your community center could reach more members, even when operating under limited time and funds? Your website serves as a powerful digital platform for consistently sharing your organization’s mission. A well-designed online space does more than provide basic contact details. It communicates your message, showcases member impact, and encourages community engagement, all without additional daily effort from your team.

When effectively designed, a modern website becomes an online platform that helps you communicate your mission more effectively and reach new members. While you might be comfortable with your current website, settling for “good enough” could mean missing out on increased community engagement. Think of your website not as a static brochure but as a dynamic, ongoing conversation with your community that informs, involves, and inspires.

Why Having a Modern Website is Important for Nonprofits

You wouldn’t ask your members to settle for subpar programming. So why settle for an outdated website? Studies show that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content or layout is unattractive, and 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. A modern, user-friendly website can be your most effective tool for communication, fundraising, and community outreach.

With limited funds and staff, you might feel like a modern website is beyond reach. But can you afford to miss out on potential donations, volunteers, and broader community engagement? Even small updates can make a world of difference and enhance how you connect with the community you serve.

The homepage of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island website.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northern Rhode Island website is easy for viewers to navigate and has an eye-catching design.

What Features Should a Nonprofit Website Have?

Every aspect of your website, from accessibility to consistent branding, shapes your online success and community engagement. Here are 10 things your nonprofit website should have to provide members with what they need:

1. Your Mission

Share your values front and center. This instantly communicates what you stand for and draws in members, volunteers, and donors who connect with your mission.

The YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley shares their impact at the top of their homepage.

2. User-Friendly Navigation

Simplicity is key. Make sure your website is easy to navigate on any platform, especially mobile, so visitors can find what they’re looking for without frustration. Roughly 8 in 10 customers will stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device. A clean layout reduces bounce rates, encouraging people to explore your site more deeply and learn more about your mission.

3. Contact Information

You’d be surprised how many organizations bury this essential detail. Make sure your contact information is readily available, ideally on every page. Direct avenues for communication build trust with your audience and make it easier for them to engage with you.

4. Newsletter Signup

Capture visitor information with an option to sign up for your newsletter. Newsletters are not just updates; they’re an ongoing dialogue that reinforces your organization’s mission. Use this tool to keep your community updated and engaged over time.

5. Online Donations

Establish an easily accessible option for online donations. This feature is crucial for sustaining your operations and increasing your reach. Daxko’s team has seen monthly donations increase by as much as 46.6% with a well-executed online strategy. Streamlined donation processes often lead to larger, more frequent contributions.

The "Give to the Y" webpage on the Altavist Area YMCA website

Altavista Area YMCA links viewers directly to their giving page at the top of every page.

6. Impact Stories

There’s no better way to demonstrate the positive change you create than by showcasing community impact stories. Share these authentic accounts through images and blogs to demonstrate the personal impact your programming has on community members. You may attract newcomers who seek similar experiences.

7. Security Measures

Data security is a major concern for all community members and donors. Data reports indicate that the average financial impact of a data breach on smaller organizations can be over $3 million. Implement secure payment options to build trust with your members, while lowering the risk of fraud.

Including an SSL (secure sockets layer) certificate on your website also adds credibility and builds trust. An SSL certificate means that data sent between the user and your website is encrypted and can’t be intercepted by third parties. This extra layer of security protects passwords, credit card information, and personal details. Both of these security measures show members you’re putting their safety first!

8. Event & Program Calendar

Community centers are hubs of activity. A comprehensive event calendar keeps your community informed and engaged. Accurate and timely event information prevents confusion and fosters better participation. Give members quick and easy access to your calendar so they always know what’s coming up.

Mankato Family YMCA links to the program calendar directly from the menu.

9. Online Membership Joins & Registrations

Supercharge the impact of your online calendar with online membership joins, program, and camp registrations. If a website visitor is interested in signing up for a membership or registering for a class, don’t put up unnecessary barriers that’ll discourage them from following through. Give them the option to register and pay online so they can sign up for memberships and programs as soon as they hear about them.

10. Community Photos

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Use this space to display photos from past events, volunteers in action, and other visuals that convey the spirit of your community. High-quality imagery can evoke emotions, pulling people closer to your cause.

11. Social Media Links

Include clickable icons for each social media platform you’re active on and link them directly to your profiles. Social media platforms offer another avenue for community engagement, provide an easy way for members to share your content, and broaden your reach far beyond your immediate circle.

Some nonprofit social media campaigns have even seen increases in campaign engagement as high as 2,000%. By using social media wisely, you’ll not only expand your community, but also make an impressive difference in metrics like member retention and donations.

How to Start Modernizing Your Nonprofit’s Website Today

Starting the modernization process for your community center’s website might feel like a daunting task, especially with limited resources and time. The following step-by-step approach can make this transformation manageable, even for a small team:

1. Audit Your Current Site

Before making any changes, take stock of what you already have. Identify the elements that work well and those that need improvement. Consider using free auditing tools to gather data on website performance.

2. Set Clear Objectives

Knowing what you want to achieve with a website redesign helps align your team and resources. Whether it’s increasing donations, boosting member engagement, or enhancing the visitor experience, your objectives should guide the redesign process.

3. Create a Budget

Modernizing a website does involve financial investment, which is why it’s important to outline a budget that includes not just the initial build and implementation, but also maintenance costs. Understanding your financial limits will help you make informed decisions during the process.

4. Find the Right Partner

The right partner can make all the difference during a website redesign. They should make every step of the process easier for you, from designing the actual website updates to supporting your staff as you implement changes. Use your budget and your objectives to help you find a partner who’s aligned with your goals.

5. Consult Your Stakeholders

Before finalizing changes, get feedback from your community stakeholders. Whether through surveys or direct consultations, input from your community can provide invaluable insights into what improvements will make the most impact.

6. Implement Changes Gradually

You don’t have to roll out all the changes at once. Phased implementation allows your team and community to adjust to the new website gradually. Plus, you can monitor results in real-time and adjust as needed.

7. Monitor and Adjust

After the launch, keep an eye on how your website performs against the set objectives. Use metrics like visitor engagement, page views, and conversion rates to make informed decisions on any further improvements.

Learn How a New Website Impacted the YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley

Check out this blog to learn how the YMCA of West San Gabriel Valley approached redesigning their website and how the results impacted their members.

They used their digital platform not only as an information center but as a communal space that resonates with the diversity and spirit of their community. Their story is a great example of how your website can become a force for change and strengthen community engagement with the right approach and resources.

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