Create a More Effective Nonprofit Website Using These 2 Simple Suggestions | npENGAGE

Create a More Effective Nonprofit Website Using These 2 Simple Suggestions

By on Apr 25, 2012


Effective nonprofit websites don’t exist as boutiques to show off information. But you already know that.

You know that your nonprofits website is a tool that should be used.

Used to engage, interact with and mobilize your audience – A tool that should ultimately inspire action.

From our extensive research and work with nonprofits in creating strategic, impactful websites, we’ve uncovered and organized a list of the top 10 elements of an effective nonprofit website.

Here are two of the ten key elements every nonprofit website should have. To get all ten make sure to check back in with us over the next week or join us for a live discussion on this topic during our Free Guide Series!

Best Practice #1: Know Your Audience

Nonprofit website audience

Without knowing who your website is serving you’re shooting in the dark. No matter how hard you try, it will be nearly impossible to create an effective nonprofit website – one that meets the needs of your constituents and helps you achieve your mission.

  • Focus on their needs – who are your key groups and what do they care about?  How do they interact with your site? By understanding the #1 Reason Nonprofit Websites Fail and How to Fix It Immediately you’ll be well on your way to creating an excellent nonprofit website.
  • Use the right language – know that writing is an art…AND a science.  Every bit of content should showcase your mission.  Avoid industry jargon and acronyms.  Keep it simple, but include descriptors for clarity and SEO improvement.
  • Keep mobile in mind!  In 3 years mobile will be the #1 method your audience accesses your site.  Are you ready?

Best Practice #2: Focus Your Homepage

Nonprofit Website Homepage

“The Web is a World of First Impressions…Users form an opinion of a website within the first few seconds of loading It.” –Jason Gross, “The Role of Design in the Kingdome of Content” www.smashingmagazine

To create an effective nonprofit website you’ve got to focus on your homepage.

  • Prioritize content – Wireframes are a key step in creating visual hierarchy. What content elements are most important and deserve prime real estate? Remember YOUR goals as well as your AUDIENCE’S during this exercise, and stay strong – not everything everyone wants fits, or even belongs, on the homepage.
  • Make sure it’s scannable – Use of headers, content blocs and visual design will allow for users eyes to follow the right path of content.
  • Provide choices – not everyone accesses your site in the same way; make sure you provide different ways to access information to accommodate.
  • Test – Show your homepage to audience members, and then ask them a series of mission and organizational questions.  If they cant’ answer them, consider refocusing and prioritizing your homepage.

Learn more about best practices in nonprofit web design during our free Guide webinar Series the week of April 23rdRegister now!


Kelley Jarrett has built her professional career around a combined passion for creating compelling marketing strategies and helping nonprofits achieve optimal mission impact. Prior to her current role as head of marketing for Blackbaud Nonprofit Solutions, Kelley served in many service-oriented positions at Blackbaud as a solutions consultant, solutions engineer, and in customer success leadership, learning first-hand of the challenges and opportunities nonprofits face, and helping to create solutions for success. Kelley enjoys balancing her home life, living near the beach in Charleston, SC as a wife and mother to 2 independent girls, with her passion for social good, both at Blackbaud and as a Board Director of Palmetto Goodwill.

Comments (8)

  • I absolutely love the way this article starts: ‘Effective nonprofit websites don’t exist as boutiques to show off information. But you already know that. You know that your nonprofits website is a tool that should be used.’ That’s exactly what excites me about developing websites for non-profits. Well said!

    Websites for NGOs, charities and ethical companies

    • Thanks, Andrew!  it’s much more fun to design for a purpose and with action in mind, isn’t it?  I agree that design and strategy for NPOs is much more rewarding!

  • Eccentrician says:

    I would take this article more seriously if someone had bothered to first spell check it. Correct spelling should be as important to a good webpage as a good layout.

    • Agreed, but couldn’t find the mistake.  Thanks for reading!

    • Jim says:

       Hi Kelly, I enjoyed the presentation very much.

      The downer was the the comment about spelling.  I am not the greatest speller in the world, but I also did not see the typo. 

      Actually the point of my comment is Eccentblahblah should take in the spirit of the presentation rather than the letter of the law (so to speak).  I feel like Howard Stern getting ready to go on a moron campaign.  So I will stop.  They say if you kick sand at someone, eventually will get your self in a hole.  I need to listen to my own advice.  On that note I will stop.  However, Eccentblahblah take your punitive comments to a Jerry Springer website.  No offense Jerry.

      Good job Kelly,  Jim

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