In this guide, we’ll explore five content strategies for nonprofits.

Storytelling for Change: 5 Content Strategies for Nonprofits

In a world filled with endless information and constant distractions, nonprofits face an uphill battle when it comes to capturing the attention of their supporters. Yet, there exists a time-tested and transformative tool that can cut through the noise: storytelling.

We believe that every nonprofit has an incredible story to tell, and we are here to help you bring that story to life. Whether you’re working to alleviate poverty, protect the environment, promote education, or champion another noble cause, these insights will help you craft stories that inspire meaningful change.

1. Personalize Outreach

According to Double the Donation, personalizing outreach helps you appeal to your supporters’ specific interests and preferences. This, in turn, enables you to build long-term relationships and secure financial support.

Take these steps to ensure that your stories appeal to each reader:

  • Segment your audience. Start by dividing your donor and supporter list into segments based on relevant criteria, such as giving history, engagement level, demographics, interests, or location. For example, you might create segments for first-time donors, long-time supporters, volunteers, and individuals who have shown a particular interest in a specific program or cause within your organization.
  • Craft personalized messages. After segmenting your audience, create tailored messages and content for each group. For instance, a first-time donor may receive an introductory letter that defines your mission and explains how they can get involved, while a long-time donor may receive regular updates on the impact of their gifts and recognition for their support.

It’s also important to pay attention to the timing of your outreach efforts. Consider when your audience is most receptive to communications. This might vary for different segments, so it’s essential to schedule your messages accordingly.

2. Create a Compelling Narrative Arc

Stories with a beginning, middle, and end have a natural narrative flow that helps maintain the audience’s interest. Let’s say your nonprofit’s mission is to end food insecurity and is hosting a virtual fundraising campaign to raise donations. Here are a few steps that you can take to build a narrative arc:

  • Start with a relatable problem or challenge. Grab the reader’s attention with a compelling lead like: “Have you ever gone to bed hungry or had to worry about where your next meal will come from? For 23% of our neighbors, this is a daily reality.”
  • Build tension by highlighting the stakes. Highlight the effects that malnutrition has on a person’s mental and physical health. For example, if left untreated, food insecurity can lead to malnutrition, chronic illness, and developmental issues. It can also perpetuate a cycle of poverty that hinders a person’s ability to achieve economic stability.
  • Introduce your nonprofit’s role as the solution. After creating a sense of urgency, position your nonprofit as the solution to the problem. Explain how your organization is actively working to alleviate food insecurity through food distribution programs and community gardens.
  • Conclude with a resolution or call to action. Use strong, actionable language to ask your audience to donate to provide meals for those in need. For example, you might end the appeal by saying, “Join us in the fight against hunger – your contribution can make a real difference in the lives of those struggling with food insecurity. Donate Now.”

For the best results, keep your narrative arcs concise and to the point. Avoid unnecessary details or tangential information that may detract from the central message.

3. Showcase Success Stories

People are more likely to support a nonprofit when they see that its activities are effective. To build your case for support, share success stories that demonstrate the tangible results of your work, making sure to:

  • Be specific. Instead of vague statements like “we made a difference,” provide details and concrete numbers about the lives or communities you’ve impacted. For example, if you provide education to underprivileged families, you might mention how many children graduated or gained access to higher education as a result of your programs.
  • Feature personal testimonials. Share testimonials from beneficiaries, volunteers, donors, or staff members who have witnessed the positive outcomes firsthand. Personal narratives add authenticity and emotional depth to your success stories. Include direct quotes that express the emotions and gratitude of those involved.

Add context by sharing the journey that led to your successes. Explain the challenges faced, the strategies employed, and the dedication of your team or volunteers. This helps your audience understand your process and appreciate the effort behind the achievement.

4. Use Visual Content

According to Getting Attention’s guide to digital marketing, 91% of individuals prefer visual content to written content. Use visual elements to break up large blocks of text and make your stories more engaging and digestible.

Here are three types of visual media to use in storytelling:

  • Photos: High-quality photographs can capture the essence of your nonprofit’s work and the people it serves. Use them to illustrate “before-and-after” transformations, document events, showcase your programs in action, and highlight the challenges faced by the communities you serve.
  • Videos: Video content is highly engaging and provides a dynamic format for your stories. Consider filming short documentaries about your mission, testimonials from beneficiaries, and interviews with your team members. These can be shared on your website, social media platforms, in email newsletters, and during fundraising events.
  • Infographics: Infographics are effective for presenting statistical information in a clear and visually appealing manner. Use graphs, charts, and other graphic designs to illustrate key metrics, success rates, and other quantitative data.

Ensure that all visuals feature your nonprofit’s branding, including its logo, color scheme, and typography. Doing so will not only foster brand recognition but also build credibility, making it more likely that supporters engage with your nonprofit’s programs.

5. Take a Multichannel Approach to Outreach

If you want to share your stories with as many potential supporters as possible, take a multichannel approach to marketing. This refers to the process of disseminating a similar message across several communication channels—both online and offline.

Popular platforms for multichannel marketing include:

  • Social media: Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn provide a dynamic and widespread audience for sharing stories, photos, videos, and updates. Use relevant hashtags and engage with your followers to amplify your reach.
  • Email: Sending out regular newsletters or email updates allows for more in-depth storytelling and the opportunity to deepen your connection with supporters. Make your subject lines eye-catching to improve open rates.
  • Website: Your nonprofit’s website serves as a central hub for your stories. Create a dedicated blog section where you can regularly publish in-depth narratives, success stories, and reports. Additionally, consider leveraging Google Grant funding to drive traffic to your website. This program provides eligible nonprofits with free advertising dollars on Google, helping you reach a wider audience and direct them to your content.
  • Direct mail: Despite the rising popularity of digital marketing, direct mail is still an effective way to share your nonprofit’s stories, especially with older or offline audiences. Format your messages into flyers, letters, or postcards and deliver them directly to your supporters.

Remember that a consistent message is key to multichannel marketing. When your core message is the same across various channels, it’s easier for your audience to understand and remember it.

As the landscape of nonprofit work and communication continues to evolve, so should your storytelling methods. Be open to new platforms, technologies, and approaches and your content will succeed as a result.

Technology + CSR: How to Get The Most Out of Your Programs

This guide covers how technology can help nonprofits get the most out of CSR programs.

An increasing number of businesses now participate in corporate philanthropy. In fact, 94% of major US corporations plan to increase or maintain their corporate giving over the next few years. While this is great news for businesses, it’s crucial to think about how to empower your corporate partners to keep up their generosity

If you lead or own a running retail store, sports club, or company, corporate social responsibility can benefit your business. For instance, you can get paid for sneaker donations, which helps your community lower its carbon footprint. We all know that sustainability is a top priority for the global population. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of CSR for businesses and the types of technology you should keep your eye out for to create a more cohesive and streamlined corporate giving experience.

The Benefits of CSR for Businesses

As a manager or leader, you’re probably already familiar with the benefits of CSR. Let’s refresh your memory on the main advantages:

  • Increased visibility. Your company can improve brand visibility through corporate giving programs such as matching gifts and payroll deductions.
  • Greater outreach. By connecting with local businesses, your organization gains access to its employees, customers, and greater network, resulting in heightened awareness of your company and its CSR efforts.
  • Elevated volunteerism. Partnering with other businesses or even nonprofits for CSR purposes may result in more fun volunteer projects your organization can do, which is a win for your team.
  • Networking with businesses. Corporations with CSR practices are more receptive to appeals for more significant support, such as sponsorships. For example, a local gym might be more inclined to donate gently used gym equipment to a community center nonprofit if they’ve established a connection through CSR.

There are several key things businesses gain from their generosity. According to 360MatchPro, CSR offers these four main advantages for businesses:

  • Employee engagement. A positive workplace culture motivates employees to work harder and stay engaged. CSR-focused events and initiatives provide excellent opportunities for employers to engage their team members with generosity.
  • Relationship-building. Aside from engaging employees, CSR events also allow employees and leadership to bond outside the office. It leads to stronger interpersonal relationships between employees and management, contributing to a more positive workplace culture.
  • Team member retention. More engaged employees are usually more satisfied with their work, making them less likely to seek employment elsewhere. CSR makes employees feel valued by their companies, as they’re able to give to the nonprofits they care about.
  • New talent recruitment. CSR initiatives add value to your compensation package to help businesses recruit new employees. Plus, with 71% of employees thinking that it’s essential to work at a company that gives back to the community, having CSR initiatives allows businesses to set themselves apart from competitors when it comes to hiring.

CSR Solutions for Businesses

As a general rule, the more convenient something is to do, the more likely it will get done. The same goes for CSR. Since your business stands to gain a lot from CSR initiatives, seek to encourage other local businesses and corporate partners to invest in CSR solutions together to make a greater impact.

CSR software refers to any business-oriented solution that enables for-profit organizations to participate in CSR activities. Here are a few types of CSR software solutions businesses should implement:

  • Employee giving tools. These tools are best paired with a matching gift program, where businesses choose to match donations made by their employees. Using employee-giving tools allows employees to check their matching gift eligibility and access applications so companies can easily approve applications for gift matches.
  • Volunteer matching solutions. For companies offering volunteer grant programs, volunteer matching software can greatly help. These tools may allow employees to track their volunteer hours, making it more convenient to see if they’ve fulfilled the grant’s requirements. Additionally, these software solutions can suggest volunteer opportunities to employees based on their volunteer history and interests, making them more likely to take advantage of the program.
  • Employee engagement platforms. One of the main benefits of CSR for businesses is increased employee engagement. That’s why employee engagement platforms that integrate with other CSR solutions can be a great help. With a comprehensive engagement tool, businesses can track employee engagement and satisfaction while encouraging employees to participate in their CSR programs and initiatives.

When looking into CSR solutions, focus on how these tools benefit your business and make CSR easier to administer. Emphasize how the right tools will make it more convenient for employees to take advantage of CSR initiatives by the business.

How Businesses Support CSR

Aside from investing in CSR software, companies can also support CSR initiatives in other ways. Consider the main types of corporate giving initiatives to get started.

Let’s take matching gift programs as an example. Your business could invest in matching gift software with auto-submission features to make it easier for employees to submit matching gift requests.

This feature will simply ask employees for their corporate email addresses. Then, the tool will collect all the data relevant to the donation and organization and transfer the information to the matching gift management software to send the match request automatically. This process takes the brunt of the effort off of employees, making it more likely that matching gifts will be requested and businesses can make a greater social impact.

Another way your business can support CSR is by promoting creative volunteer opportunities. Let’s say you’re taking Sneakers4Good’s recommendation and running a sneaker recycling program. Advertise this social good opportunity to employees, vendors, and other partners by emailing contacts and asking them to pass the message along to others. Additionally, you can also promote it as a volunteer opportunity, as you’ll need volunteers to coordinate the sneaker collection.

By investing in the right solutions, businesses can see greater brand awareness through CSR programs, taking their companies to new heights. 

This guide lists 10 kid-friendly fundraisers for churches to raise donations and awareness for nonprofit organizations.

9 Kid-Friendly Fundraisers For Churches Helping Nonprofits

To enhance its community outreach and make a greater impact, your church may support local nonprofit organizations. Together, your faith-based and charitable missions can help change lives in the community.

As a children’s ministry leader, you know the importance of engaging families, including your youngest churchgoers, in the church’s mission to reach the community. Kid-friendly fundraisers not only teach valuable lessons to children in your church, but they can also boost your efforts to support a nonprofit by getting entire families involved. 

The right fundraising idea can raise much-needed support and put the “fun” back in “fundraising,” which is why we created this list! Here are 10 kid-friendly fundraising ideas that will help children understand their role in God’s kingdom as they empower nonprofits to help others. 

1. Quiz show

According to Wonder Ink, increased biblical literacy can help kids recognize the Bible as the source of truth, whether they’re reading yet or not. Support children’s understanding of Scripture by testing their knowledge through a fun competition!

Host a “quiz show” where you challenge kids’ knowledge of the Bible. Have them compete to:

  • Locate a Bible verse first
  • Answer a question about a Bible passage
  • Recite a Bible verse

To reinforce biblical lessons, use Scripture from your children’s ministry program as the material for the quiz show. When you charge a small entry fee and sell tickets to those attending, you’ll further kids’ learning and raise money for nonprofit causes.

If you want to involve even more participants, turn your quiz show into a trivia game to test kids on their knowledge of your children’s ministry curriculum content. Create teams and prepare a list of trivia questions from your curriculum’s lessons and key takeaways.

Kids will study the curriculum and memorize Scripture to prepare for the competition. To incentivize participation, offer a prize to the winning team. For example, your church might match the amount raised for the nonprofit in honor of the winning team. 

2. Talent show

The children in your church have active imaginations and big dreams. Give them a chance to be in the spotlight with a talent show!

To raise funds for this event, charge a small entry fee for participants and sell tickets for those attending. Prepare a short introduction to the show to explain the purpose of the fundraiser and how kids are helping those in need by performing. 

3. Product fundraiser

Kids will get especially excited about fundraising when they see tangible results in return for their contribution. Raise donations by selling:

  • Food items: Tasty snacks like cookie dough and popcorn are enticing treats that kids can’t refuse! Keep them in the building or room where your children’s program meets so that they’re always available for purchase. 
  • Branded merchandise: Items branded to your children’s ministry will likely be top sellers because kids and their parents will be eager to represent their involvement in your children’s program by sporting your merch. 
  • Discount cards: Host a discount card fundraiser by selling coupons for goods or services from preferred merchants. These can help parents get discounts on family meals, school supplies, or other items or services.

In addition to selling products to people in your church, you can also encourage older kids to do the selling. Giving this responsibility helps kids become more directly involved in your church’s impact on nonprofit causes.

4. Bake sale

Invite kids and their families to bake tasty treats and sell them at a church-wide bake sale! This fun activity can encourage relationship-building between families as they spend time together baking and selling their baked goods. You’ll also engage the community if you choose to sell outside of your congregation, providing opportunities to minister to others and invite newcomers to your church.

Plus, this fundraiser maximizes the amount your church raises for nonprofits since parents and kids will donate their baked goods to your sale. That way, every dollar raised goes directly to nonprofits and their beneficiaries!

5. A-thon fundraiser

A-thon fundraisers collect donations for an activity completed by participants. When kids sign up for this challenge, their loved ones will donate based on the quantity of the activity completed. For example, a-thon activities often include:

Set an appropriate goal for each activity to make it achievable for kids. For example, collect donations for each page read in a read-a-thon to make the goal more achievable for early readers.

6. Campaign website

As children’s use of digital devices and social media increases, taking your fundraising efforts online is an engaging way for your church to raise nonprofit support. Older kids will enjoy helping you create a campaign page, through which your church can collect donations on behalf of the nonprofit.

Collect ideas from kids in your children’s program for the page’s design, layout, and interactive elements. While considering their input, remember to include the essential elements of a campaign website:

This image lists the essential elements of a campaign website, which are listed in the text below.
  • Social media sharing icons
  • Volunteer sign-up form
  • Your church’s branding
  • Explanation of mission and campaign
  • Donation form
  • Fundraising thermometer

After publishing the page, share the link with parents and other adult church members so they can donate and share the page with their friends. Provide fundraising updates with the kids in your children’s program and be sure to explain that their page design is helping to support an important cause.

7. Scavenger hunt

Create a scavenger hunt for your church’s kids with an enticing prize at the end. You can raise donations through a small entry fee for participating and by selling refreshments to parents as they wait.

You can make each clue a Bible verse reference that leads kids to the next one. For example, the first clue might be Matthew 6:19. When kids find the verse in their Bibles and read, “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven,” they’ll be prompted to look for the next clue on the keys of the worship team’s piano.

8. Book club

While book clubs are often free, your church can turn this into a kid-friendly fundraiser by selling children’s books to participants. You can also sell candy and snacks during the book club’s meeting times or t-shirts displaying the book club’s name.

As the children’s ministry leader, you may choose to lead the club yourself or recruit ministry volunteers to lead it for you. Either way, have members of the club explore books that study Scripture or even correlate with lessons from your children’s curriculum

For example, if kids are currently learning about how to Holy Spirit leads them, you could have the book club read The Go-and-Tell Storybook, which explores 30 biblical stories of the Holy Spirit coming. This will help your group remain focused on biblical topics while still raising support for nonprofit causes! 

9. Parents’ night out

Give parents a break by allowing them to take a night for themselves. Recruit children’s ministry volunteers to host games and fun at the church, then charge a small fee for parents who drop their kids off. 

Volunteers may spend the evening doing a service project for your nonprofit partner with the kids who are dropped off. Discuss how nonprofit support ties into your church’s mission and the calling as Christians to “love your neighbor.”

More fundraising ideas can be found on resources like BestFundraisingIdeas, which offers a comprehensive list of unique activities and events. No matter which fundraiser you choose to host, remember to emphasize the importance of kids’ involvement. Show your appreciation and explain how they’re helping others by participating.

Also, consider working with nonprofits that serve children. That way, the kids in your children’s program will feel more connected to the beneficiaries of their donations and resonate more with the cause.

Feature image for blog post on how to avoid perfectionism paralysis in capital campaigns

How to Avoid Perfectionism Paralysis in Capital Campaigns

If your capital campaign is going to be successful, you will need generous contributions from your very top projects.

In fact, according to recent research by Capital Campaign Pro, most campaigns raise more than half their goal (71%, on average!) from fewer than 20 donors. So how you approach those 20 donors matters a great deal.

And if you’re like many people, you may fall into the “We had better be perfect” trap. It’s a natural mistake. Because those top donors are so important, and you worry that you might not get more than one opportunity to ask them for a big gift, it’s got to be right!

As a result, you may be tempted to put off those big donor visits until all of your plans and your materials are buttoned down and look super professional.

In fact, you might feel paralyzed by your commitment to perfection and put off those big donor visits far longer than you should.

Here’s the truth, though. The drive to be perfect before you talk to your big donors, while understandable, is actually the wrong approach. Not only will it delay your campaign, it’s likely to diminish the chances of your success.


Because the essence of getting those large gifts isn’t buttoning down every detail. The essence is quite the opposite. Your task isn’t to make a perfect presentation, it’s to involve those large donors early and often in the planning of your project long before you make your pitch and ask for a gift.

Here are three things you can do to make sure you don’t fall into the perfectionism trap with your next capital campaign.

List of ways to avoid perfectionism paralysis in your next capital campaign, all of which are covered below

1. Mark planning documents as drafts.

Alternatively, get in the habit of using the phrase “preliminary plan.” Make sure to date each version of every draft. You will likely go through several drafts that will shift, change, and improve with each version. Without dating the versions and renaming and dating subsequent documents like your case for support or gift range chart, you won’t be able to keep track of which is an earlier version and which one is current.

2. Share draft versions with your most important prospects early on in the planning process.

Don’t wait until your plans are finalized. Think about it this way: If you don’t approach that local politician or business owner until everything is buttoned down and perfect, then all you have to talk to them about is money.

But if you share your plans while they are still in the formative stage, you can have far more probing and exploratory conversations with them. Those conversations will help you benefit from their ideas and give you insights into their interests and philanthropic motivations.

3. Know that it’s easier and less stressful to talk with donors before you’ve perfected your plans.

The more time and energy you’ve put into making everything perfect, the more likely you’ll find yourself selling and then defending your plans rather than discussing them.

It turns out that not only does trying to be perfect often slow you down, but it’s actually a less powerful approach to engaging your donors. And it is well-documented that engaged donors give more and give more generously.

So, don’t fall into the perfectionism trap. Train yourself to share your plans before they are fully formed and enjoy the benefits of getting wisdom and advice from the people who can help you most.

This guide explores the four ways fundraising software connects schools with donors.

4 Ways Software Bridges the Gap Between Schools & Donors

As a parent, teacher, or school administrator, you’re all too familiar with the challenges of school fundraising, including fatigue and burnout, disengaged students and parents, and a lack of communication. Unfortunately, these are problems that can lead to losses in potential fundraising revenue, and finding the right strategies to address these issues can feel like guesswork.

Choosing exciting fundraising ideas, engaging students, and creating targeted marketing campaigns can help you reach the right audience, but these things can be time and labor-intensive to do on your own. To quickly make impactful changes to your school’s approach to donor and community outreach, consider investing in specialized school fundraising software. 

In this guide, we’ll explore these four ways the right technology will help you connect with your donors to foster deep, loyal relationships:

  1. Better understanding of donor preferences.
  2. More convenient donation methods.
  3. Real-time, accurate data tracking.
  4. Prompt donor communications.

To reach and resonate with those who are willing to give to your school, you first need to understand them. To get started, we’ll cover how to learn about potential supporters and use your findings to inspire donations. 

1. Better understanding of donor preferences. 

Fundraising software tracks different types of fundraising data, including valuable insights about donors’ preferences and giving behaviors. For example, let’s say your school is following 99Pledges’ guide to organizing a read-a-thon, which recommends each student receive a personal donation page where their friends and family can pledge donations. When a donor donates to your read-a-thon, you’ll know:

  • Their first and last name
  • Contact information, such as an email address
  • Their preferred payment method (e.g., ApplePay vs. credit card)
  • The amount they gave
  • Which student they have a connection with
  • When they donated

Using this information, your school can tailor how it interacts with donors in the future. Specifically, you could:

  • Choose fundraising ideas that align with student and donor interests
  • Create targeted marketing campaigns that acknowledge their giving motivations
  • Reach out through preferred communication channels (e.g., offering the option to be reached by text, email, or mail )
  • Make tailored fundraising appeals based on past giving behavior

By creating more personalized experiences for donors, you show that you see and value them as people rather than dollar signs. 

2. More convenient donation methods.

Another way to leverage donor data is to optimize the giving process according to what is most convenient and familiar to your donors. For example, some donors may be most comfortable with writing a check or submitting cash to your school. However, many supporters find it easiest to give online, and fundraising software makes it easy to accept and track online giving.

When preparing for your next school fundraiser, make sure your software can accept popular online payment methods, including:

  • Credit and debit cards
  • GooglePay
  • ApplePay
  • Third-party processors like PayPal and Venmo

Keep in mind that accepting digital payment methods will also make the logistical side of fundraising easier for your school. Financial data will flow into your records, allowing you to track progress in real-time. Additionally, if you’re looking to get students outside through a fundraiser like a walk-a-thon, you can nudge supporters to donate online ahead of time or on-site using QR codes so volunteers don’t have to handle cash and checks.

3. Real-time, accurate data tracking.

When your school accepts more online donations, you can quickly and accurately track your fundraiser’s progress. This not only streamlines your recordkeeping but also opens the door for new donor engagement strategies.

Here are a few ways to engage donors and student participants using data about your fundraising progress:

  • Fundraising thermometers: Fundraising thermometers visually display your campaign’s fundraising progress for donors. When donors can easily check in to see how much money you’ve raised, they may feel inspired to give to push you closer to your goal.
This is an example of a fundraising thermometer (detailed in text).
  • Countdowns: Consider adding a countdown to your fundraising thermometer to create urgency. Keep it simple by adding a headline that says something like “There are only 10 days left in the read-a-thon! Help us reach our goal by donating here.”
  • Gamification: This strategy involves adding gameplay elements to non-game scenarios. In a fundraiser, you might create a leaderboard that shows who the top donors are. Consider offering prizes or incentives to top contributors, such as recognition on your school’s website.

This can also help ensure that your school is on track to meet its fundraising goals. For example, maybe you’ve set a goal to raise $3,000 from your back-to-school fundraiser and know that you need to raise $1,000 per week to meet the goal. With up-to-date revenue data, you’ll know if your school can achieve its goal by the deadline.

4. Prompt donor communications.

Communication with your donors is critically important to building relationships with them and showing your appreciation for their support. As noted by eCardWidget’s guide to thanking donors, it’s best to send thank-you emails within 72 hours of receiving the donation. But, it can be difficult to stay on top of sending these messages while juggling all of your other responsibilities. 

Rather than manually sending each message, you can automate the process with your fundraising software. This way, donors will receive donation receipts, thank-you messages, and pledge reminders on a much faster timeline without added stress.

Your donors will appreciate more tailored thank-you messages that show that your school truly values their contributions. If a donor gave to your sports team’s recent campaign, you’ll want to greet them by name, acknowledge which organization they donated to, recognize the amount they donated, and tell them about the impact that gift will have on your organization. 

Donors are the lifeblood of any successful fundraiser. However, recruiting new ones to support each campaign comes at a much higher cost than simply engaging past donors. By leveraging fundraising technology, your school can foster deeper relationships with its donors to build a robust network of supporters and nurture sustainable revenue streams.

In this guide, we’ll cover five essential skills to master to make you a better nonprofit web designer.

5 Skills to Make You a Better Nonprofit Web Designer

Stories are at the heart of web design. For nonprofits, conveying inspiring stories is critical to securing the necessary support for powering social change. 

With high stakes like these, first impressions matter. In today’s fast-paced world, it takes only 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about a website. Because of this, nonprofit web designers need to hone their skills to impress visitors and motivate them to get involved.

To help you round out your abilities, we’ll discuss five essential skills to develop and sharpen as a nonprofit web designer, including:

  1. User Experience Design
  2. Visual Design and Storytelling
  3. Nonprofit Content Creation
  4. Web Accessibility
  5. Stakeholder Communication

An effective nonprofit website is a valuable tool for marketing, increasing brand recognition, and boosting conversions. Focus on the following skills to stay at the forefront of nonprofit web design and create stunning websites that supporters return to again and again.

1. User Experience Design

Seasoned nonprofit web designers are well-accustomed to approaching their projects from the user’s point of view. Visitors should be able to land on the website and immediately begin interacting freely with your nonprofit’s content. To improve the user experience (UX) of a website, follow these best practices:

  • Avoid pop-ups that block the main content and consider using sidebars instead.
  • Include plenty of white space around text and images to avoid overwhelming users.
  • Improve your website load speed by compressing images and enabling lazy loading.
  • Break up large chunks of text with bullet points and images.

Additionally, make it easy for users to take important actions on your website by incorporating clear, eye-catching calls to action (CTAs) across your pages. For example, according to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, making a website’s “Donate” button stand out can result in a 190% increase in donations.

Incorporate high-contrast brand colors and choose urgent, specific language for your CTAs to compel users to click through. For example, a college website might feature CTAs like “Apply Now” or “Take a Virtual Tour” while an animal rescue nonprofit might encourage people to “Donate Now” or “Adopt a Stray.” These buttons will guide users from step to step in their interactions with your website.

2. Visual Design and Storytelling

If a picture can paint a thousand words, then your nonprofit website is full of opportunities to tell readers about your organization’s mission, beneficiaries, and impact. A nonprofit web designer should be able to use captivating visuals to enhance the user experience and weave together attention-grabbing graphic design materials such as:

  • Images
  • Infographics
  • eCards
  • Videos
  • Animations

Set your visual web design up for success by starting with a mood board. In this resource, you’ll compile aspects such as color palettes, icons, logos, illustrations, and typography to use for brainstorming and fine-tuning. Developing a mood board allows you to share your design approach, collect feedback, and make major changes before delving into the actual project itself.

Make your nonprofit website’s visuals stand out by experimenting with animated, interactive, or 3D elements. Keep up with the latest web design trends by moving away from art styles like Corporate Memphis and opting for more custom, textured illustrations that add more specific value to your content. However, the user experience should still be your number one priority when designing your visuals.

3. Nonprofit Content Strategy

A well-rounded nonprofit web designer looks at each website’s content strategy as a whole to determine how to attract and retain visitors. You should be well-versed with content management systems (CMS) like WordPress, and know how to leverage their tools to fill your website with engaging content. Kanopi’s WordPress for nonprofits guide offers these tips for refining your website’s content strategy:

  • Use simple language and avoid jargon.
  • Engage website visitors by using more second-person than first-person pronouns.
  • Follow SEO best practices, such as using logical heading structures and choosing specific keywords for each page.
  • Create a blog posting schedule for consistent content.

All of the content on your nonprofit website should reflect your organization’s voice and tone. For instance, a nonprofit that is trying to come across as more playful and approachable might use more contractions and add emojis throughout its content, while an organization that is aiming to be more serious might include no emojis and limit the use of exclamation points.

4. Web Accessibility

Whether you’re trying to encourage website visitors to sign up for an upcoming event, visit your donation page, or explore the blog roll, make sure that your content is accessible to everyone. This includes people using mobile devices, screen readers, and other assistive technologies.

Keep these considerations in mind to ensure that all visitors have an excellent experience on your website:

  • Add captions and alt text to every image and video.
  • Use a color contrast tool to ensure that your colors have sufficient contrast.
  • Avoid using all caps to improve readability.
  • Ensure that all of your content is mobile-responsive.

To identify further accessibility improvements, your website should undergo a basic audit at least every six months, or following any major changes.

5. Stakeholder Communication

While every well-designed website will share common strengths and features, it’s important to tailor each website to your nonprofit’s audience and brand. To do so, you’ll need to acquire an in-depth understanding of how your target users prefer to interact with a website and what they’re looking for in a high-quality website experience.

One effective way to do this is by creating three to five user personas containing information such as:

This is a template that nonprofit web designers can use to develop user personas to guide their design decisions.
  • Age, location, and occupation
  • Technical proficiency
  • Goals or purpose for using your website
  • Potential barriers they might encounter

As you design your nonprofit website, reference these user personas to adjust your visual and content strategy to meet the specific expectations of your audience. Continue gathering user feedback through surveys and focus groups to stay on top of needs and priorities.

A strong nonprofit website provides a solid foundation for building relationships with donors, volunteers, and corporate partners in the community. Keep an eye on metrics such as time on site, landing page bounce rates, and number of pages visited to determine the effectiveness of your web design efforts. Use this information to make improvements, sharpen your skills, and boost your results over time.