With mission-driven work, it can be difficult to stay on top of technology. You want to get to work, boots on the ground, to carry out your organization’s mission!
Occasionally, however, the importance of an organized, well-presented website is overlooked. Your website is the virtual front door of your organization, and you want it to welcome your audience in, whether your audience is the community you serve, volunteers, or donors.
The idea of a website re-design can be daunting, so let’s break it down into smaller, digestible pieces. We identified elements of a website (content, function, design) that make a website particularly welcoming to three major audience types.
The Community You Serve
Make sure your website is most welcoming to the community you serve, or your “target” audience. That is, I’m sure, why you have a website to begin with!
A welcoming website for the community starts before they’ve even reached your homepage. The best websites are the ones that are found easily on the (very crowded) world wide web. To ensure that your website is easy to find, keep a couple things in mind:
- Your URL should be the same (or closely related) to the name of your organization.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization): This is a huge topic in its own right, but here are some quick tricks to easily improving your websites searchability and SEO.
- Leverage social media to expand your online presence and reach. Remember to use usernames that match your organization name as closely as possible. If an option to link is available, link back to your organization’s website. While social media is amazing for audience growth and engagement, your website should be your organization’s ultimate source of truth/info. Heads up: this is much more effective if you have the time to dedicate to nurturing your social media channels.
Now let’s focus on the website itself. What do community members need to find on the website?
- Mission & vision: Your organization likely already has this written down and established! Now make sure it is clear on your website.
- Services offered: This could very easily be its own page on your website, although there should certainly be mention of it on your home page. Depending on the nature of your organization, you could swap out the word “services” for “events”, “programming”, or “our work”. Make sure to include whether these services are free or paid.
- Hours of operation: This lets folks know when it’s alright to give you a call or drop by. This information is often listed in the footer content along the bottom of all of your pages, along with…
- Contact information: Give the community a number to call or an email to reach out to in case they have questions about your organization.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of organizations worldwide. Without volunteers’ work, passion, and dedication to your mission, many organizations would not be as successful as they are today. Your website should serve as a marketing/recruiting tool for new volunteers and a practical resource for existing volunteers. Here are some tips to get you started:
- Dedicate at least one whole page to volunteer information! As you share important information with potential volunteers and returning volunteers, maintain an authentic tone of appreciation and passion for the work. Feel free to break the information up into multiple sections or pages.
- Overview of volunteer opportunities: What kind of volunteer work is available? Who is eligible for the work? What is the commitment required?
- Volunteer testimonials: Nothing says, “This is an awesome volunteer opportunity!” like an actual volunteer quite literally recommending the work to others.
- Application (or signup page): Point interested volunteers in the right direction. What is their first step? Often, volunteers are required to complete a volunteer application. (Forgive me, but it’d be silly not to mention it here — in case you’re looking for a way to accept volunteer applications and move new volunteers through an on-boarding process, VolunteerLocal has you completely covered!)
Donors may only visit your website a handful of times throughout the year. However, don’t let that fool you; wowing them is crucial! Donors (consciously or subconsciously) want to donate to organizations they believe in — organizations that they are convinced will stand the test of time and continue delivering on a mission that is dear to them for years to come. If your website conveys that message, you may see more donors, more frequent donations, and larger donations. Some tips to wow donors:
- Use a professional website builder to ensure your website looks like it was made (or updated) recently. If your website was patched together with very basic HTML and size 12 Times New Roman font everywhere, it might come across as dated. The great news is that there are many easy, drag-and-drop website builders out there for you to design a spectacular, modern website without breaking the bank.
- Dedicate a page specifically to/for donors. On this page, share the impact of your organization, made possible by donations and by a dedicated team. Include real-life, if applicable/possible. Be specific — tell them exactly how donations are used and what the impacts are — so that they want to donate year after year.
- Include a “Donate” button or link that allows them to donate on-the-spot. Or, give them instructions on submitting a donation. (Pro tip: if you can, offer the option of recurring donations!)
In conclusion, identify your website’s audiences, then design an experience around their needs and expectations. Keep the design modern, clean, and uncluttered. Read over the copy/text you’ve generated to ensure it’s on-brand with the “voice” of your organization. Short, sweet, and concise usually does the trick, but you’re certainly encouraged to add your own flair to it! Have some well-informed fun building the virtual front door of your organization, and your audiences will surely appreciate it.