When it comes to building a nonprofit website, functionality reigns as king and inspiring an emotional reaction is his queen. So, what exactly do we mean by “functionality” and “emotional reaction”? Functionality is the ease with which a potential donor can give money to your nonprofit. The emotional reaction refers to the site’s ability to appeal to human nature. Let’s face it, part of the reason that people give to charities is that they are inspired to do so. As such, the website must spark that inspiration by connecting on an emotional level.
Just as a house relies on a great foundation, there are a few key components that should always be used to establish website functionality.
- Easy to navigate. A nonprofit website should be easy to read, contain relevant information, and should facilitate donations to charitable funds in a secure manner. Avoid hidden links. Navigation icons should be easy to find and lead to pertinent information.
- Responsive design. Nonprofit websites should be easily viewed on any device. A responsive design helps to ensure that your site will be seen with the same layout on a desktop, laptop, mobile, and/or tablet device.
- Website security. When it comes to donating money and supporting nonprofits, people want to make sure that the site is always secure. Be sure that you have SSL security on your site, or that your payment/donation processor does. Security protocols should always be up to date, especially on the donation page.
Establishing an Emotional Response
You can create the human connection (i.e., inspire an emotional response) in a number of ways.
- Photographs really do say 1,000 words. What better way to connect with your audience than to use a photograph? Photos are an easy way to succinctly show people what your nonprofit supports. Rather than having to read a bunch of text on the screen, a visitor can view the photograph and instantly feel a tug on their heartstrings.
- Inspiring quotes. It is a simple truth that just as photographs can inspire an emotional response, so too can the right quote. These phrases should stand out on the website pages. They should also be powerful messages that clearly depicts the mission of the nonprofit.
- The power of a good video. Videos are a brilliant way to create an emotional response. From a well-timed musical selection to powerful b-roll images, a video can help visitors connect with your nonprofit. Videos are also more likely to be shared; this means that your nonprofit can have a greater capacity of reaching more viewers.
When designing a nonprofit website, remember that a king is only as good as the queen standing next to him. In other words, functionality must be married with an emotional response—only then will you have designed a truly successful site.
A great example of a strong non-profit site is the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. Their old site was very out dated, but their recently launched site allows them to make the most of the bold and inspiring imagery of the animals they protect to help communicate their message, and ultimately drive donors to action, whether it be an adoption, a donation, becoming a pet foster family, or simply sharing a link or video on social media. To read more on the transformation of their site you can visit our project page.