Why
Non-Profits Should
Invest in a Professional Website

Dustin-Lee Casey

Creative Director at DL48 Studio

I love pumpkin pie, autumn leaves & the British telly. I also create pretty things for people.

With online donations increasing significantly every year with targeted fundraising campaigns, and online trends like #GivingTuesday, it’s now more important than ever to invest in a professional website for your non-profit.

Most non-profits skimp on their online presence. They use DIY services like Wix, Squarespace or even GoDaddy to do a quick and cheap website that gives people the gist of their organization. A beautiful online brochure.

But, this method could hurt your non-profit in the long run and cause you to lose out on donations.

Here are 6 reasons why you should invest in a professional website.

 

1. Adds Credibility & Legitimacy

Establishing website credibility is crucial in keeping people on your website and reading what you have to say. But it goes even further. Like any self-respecting non-profit, you’re going to ask people for money. In doing so, you have to first prove you are a legitimate organization and not some scam being run out of Nigeria.

To do this, you have to have a good website design. Not some cookie-cutter template. A real, unique design that reflects your non-profit’s brand. You also need a well thought out strategy, with expertly written content that grabs the attention of Ms. Beaverhausen, keeps her interested and motivates her to donate and volunteer. And with that, it must have a system in place to capture her information so that you can utilize it with newsletters, email blasts, etc..

We know that presentation matters on the interwebs. And with non-profit websites, it’s not just the average person you’re trying to win over. Having a professional website that builds credibility and adds legitimacy to your non-profit organization that can help you secure grants, attract large donors and partnerships with corporate sponsors.

 

2. Trustworthy Payment Integration

According to the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact’s 2016 Charitable Giving Report, the overall online fundraising for nonprofits amounted to $2.6 billion. And that number is increasing by the year.

Expanding on the credibility aspect, you need people to trust that you are going to keep their sensitive information secure so they feel comfortable donating online to your worthy cause. If you don’t have a payment gateway or it looks low rent, it could scare off, Ms. Beaverhausen.

Having a professional setup a payment gateway that utilizes bank-grade encryption security like captures donor’s information, and builds trust with Ms. Beaverhausen all at the same time is invaluable.

 

3. Built In Automation

A professional in the web industry will know of many systems that can benefit your organization and teach you how to incorporate them into your nonprofit’s online workflow.

For instance, they can help set up a donor & volunteer management system that integrates with your website. These types of systems capture your donor’s and volunteer’s information, categorizes their volunteering interests and tracks their donation habits, all while syncing with bookkeeping applications like Quickbooks. Plus, with added integrations like Mail Chimp, as soon as they signup or donate, they can be sent automatic welcome emails, as well as a series of nurturing emails to help encourage them to get more involved in your organization.

 

4. Attract the ever coveted Millennials or “Giving Generation”

Millennials have been shown to volunteer and donate more than any other generation before them. That’s right, the generation most people consider lazy and entitled, have been found to spend their time helping causes they believe in and investing their hard earned money like never before. And even though they face extraordinary hardships, they’re more optimistic than any other generation.

Tapping into the “Giving Generation” can seriously benefit your non-profit when it comes to finding committed volunteers and passionate donors. To do that, you have to make sure your non-profit can properly engage, interact and harness the fervency of the most tech-savvy, social media loving generation ever.

 

5. Spend Less On Advertising By Targeting Your Ideal Volunteer & Donor

Your website should be geared toward your ideal volunteer and donor. This is the person that you’ve researched, fleshed out and know will be the most likely to volunteer and donate to your cause. Everything on your website should be speaking directly to this person. Your content, photos, videos, everything. This strategy will make the most impact in converting them into a committed volunteer and generous donor.

With your ideal volunteer and donor in mind, you can then expand this strategy to your fundraising, advertising and social media campaigns. Overall, it will save you money and time.

 

6. Provide a space for Annual Reports and Policies.

Although it is not required, it’s become common industry practice to make your financial information available online. Doing so adds legitimacy and transparency to your non-profit.

Having a place for your Annual Reports, IRS Forms, and even different policies like a Fiscal Policies Manual, Gift Acceptance Policy, Operating Reserve Policy and Investment Policy can add greater transparency and build trust with potential donors.

Also, having a Terms of Use, an Accessibility Policy & an Anti-Discrimination Policy, are all very useful to have on your non-profit’s website.

But most importantly, your non-profit should have a Privacy Policy posted on your website. Several states now require by law any website collecting information from people must post a Privacy Policy. And even if you don’t live in one of those states, laws like The California Online Privacy Protection Act states if a California resident uses your website, you are required to adhere to said law. Plus, there are even charity accountability groups that require you use a Privacy Policy.

A professional in the web industry can help you put together, organize and present all of these things on your non-profit’s website.

When it comes to Web Design, Should you Pay or Ask for a donation?

It never hurts to ask a web design agency or freelancer to donate their services. But chances are, you really should pay.

Most non-profits get hung up on needing every single cent to go toward their cause. Which is a great mentality to have, but don’t forget, you need to invest in your non-profit and make sure its foundations are sustainable for the future. Just like investing in office space, employees and office equipment, you should invest in a professional website that can bring your non-profit online credibility that will bring you donations and sponsors for years to come.

 

If services are donated, make sure you acknowledge it

Most people think having the design company’s credit at the bottom of the page is enough acknowledgment. It’s free advertising and gives the design company exposure, right? Wrong. A majority of design companies and freelancers require a site credit no matter what and even charge an expensive fee to have that credit removed. And most of the time that credit only says “designed by”. It doesn’t acknowledge the donation part.

Remember, that designer or design company gave up the amount of money they would have earned on other projects with the time they spent on your site, so properly acknowledging them is a must.

 

How Should They Be Acknowledged?

You should include them on your Donors, Sponsors or Thank You page. If you have a donation page with tiered donation amounts, ask the designer how much they’d usually charge for a website and list them accordingly. If you have a Sponsors page, include them on that page and anywhere else you list sponsors for the lifetime of the website. They did, after all, sponsor your brand-new professional website that’s going to benefit your organization for many, many years to come.

Conclusion

Invest in your non-profit’s future and make sure it’s ready to handle the ever growing online donation trends and can attract the ideal volunteers and donors.

Our fictional representation of
a standard website visitor

Ms. Beaverhausen is a high-rolling aristocrat, so her time is money. Don't waste it. She's also skittish and easily spooked. Prone to leaving parties at a moments notice. And most importantly, she's incredibly judgemental when it comes to appearance and social standards. But in the end, she's lovable and absolutely to die for, darling!
*Ms. Beaverhausen's characterization is based off research, studies, statistics, and analysis on the average internet user and how they interact with the interwebs and individual websites.

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