Most NFPs understand the importance of their digital presence, but many aren’t aware that a website purposely built with their core goals in mind, underpinned with a clear digital strategy, can significantly shift the dial on their bottom-line. 

We understand the challenges of building and running a website in the NFP space. We’ve worked with over 1,000 not-for-profit organisations in the UK and Australia to bring you the most common mistakes we see, so you don’t have to make them too:

1. Sending users away from your website

According to the Network For Good Online Giving Index, charities achieve on average ​6 times more online revenue if they take donations through their own site rather than a third-party. By diverting donors off your site to third-party sites to process donations or set up fundraising pages, you may be losing further engagement and risk drop off in the process. 

If a new user visits your site to see what you do, they may find an event that they want to attend, but also donate additional money for the cause. This becomes less of an opportunity if they are directed off site to complete an action, as they may get distracted and not return at all. 

Capture your users in the moment of giving and maximize their contribution by keeping them on your site as long as possible.

2. Old and outdated websites

We see a lot of NFPs with old content on their websites as they are unable to update their site themselves. This lack of control holds them back from engaging with loyal users who are missing out on important news, events, or other ways they can support your cause. It’s also important for users to be able to see recent activities and progress, nobody wants to support an organisation that is not active.

It will come as no surprise that 60% of online traffic now comes via mobile or tablet. Studies also show that ​donors are ​34% less likely to make a donation to a website that is not easy to navigate on a mobile device. NFP websites that aren’t optimised are likely to be attracting 20.5% less in donations online, versus a mobile responsive site. 

A responsive website that can be easily updated can dramatically increase your income, and open the door for new audiences to engage with your organisation.

3. Complicated user journeys  

Users want to find what they are looking for within the first 30 seconds of landing on a website. In the current attention economy, no one has the time to sift through a website to find out how to donate or set up a fundraiser. If you have service users that need to find help through your site, the need for a clear user journey is even more important. 

We test user journeys to see how each of your core audiences will move through your website. If weaknesses are found, we fix them before moving into design. It is very important to keep referring back to your audiences and goals to make sure that your content is clear and in line with these. A clear strategy alongside tested user journeys, based on behaviours and specific goals in mind, will ensure minimal drop-offs. User journeys should always be tested by someone outside your organisation to remove any bias as you may be too familiar with your website content.

The more steps in the journey to action, the more likely you’ll see drop-offs. User testing removes internal bias and ensures the site is ‘sticky’ for your core audiences. 

4. Not clearly communicating your purpose 

Whilst a lot of organisations know what they do and how they do it, we often see a lack of clarity around why they do what they do. Sometimes they haven’t even had the chance to sit down together and think about it. We believe an organisation’s purpose should be clearly communicated and threaded through the entire website. This allows people to connect with your cause quickly and drives credibility through showcasing commitment to your cause. 

If you are an organisation that exists to help people, then your website should be created with those people in mind. We encourage NFPs to use language that is relevant to their audiences, whilst we develop a design with the accessibility of those users considered.

Identifying your purpose and clearly communicating it encourages people to connect with your organisation on a deeper level, which converts into action for your cause. 

5. Lack of emotional hook

Most of the organisations we work with are changing the world in their own unique way. The significant difference they make in the lives of many people is incredible, but they often fail to use their successes to drive further engagement from their current and new audiences. 

Stories have connected people throughout human existence. We see advertisers make up stories to connect with their target consumers, but NFPs don’t need creative agencies to produce engaging content. Most have access to a multitude of emotionally charged and highly engaging stories from the people they have impacted. Whether it’s someone they’ve helped or fundraisers who’ve raised thousands of dollars, these stories drive continued engagement and should be front and centre on your website. 

Stories have always held the potential to drive a deeper connection. They can help people, give hope where there is little, or inspire someone to support your cause.

Read more about storytelling