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How to Develop an Online Presence for Your Nonprofit

Posted Sep 08, 2020 01:20 PM
Our growing reliance on the Internet means developing an online presence has quickly become a substantial part of an effective marketing strategy. Your nonprofit's website is the foundation of your organization’s entire online presence. A strong nonprofit website can play a role in boosting donations, growing your supporter base, and building brand awareness.

As the focus of your digital strategy, you’ll need to do everything possible to ensure your website reaches its full potential. To help, we’ve compiled a list of easy tips for optimizing your nonprofit’s website without help from a professional web developer.

1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly

Eye-catching and engaging elements like images, forms, and buttons may look great on a desktop computer; however, they might not translate well on mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, mobile users will be more likely to click away, meaning you’ll miss out on key support.

With a nonprofit content management system (CMS) that offers automatic mobile-responsiveness, you won’t have to worry about developing multiple versions of your website for different devices. When choosing your CMS and creating your nonprofit’s website, you’ll want to make sure the following are mobile-friendly:

  • Forms. Any forms (e.g. your volunteer application, donation page, and event forms) should scale for smaller screens. Otherwise, visitors may have to zoom in and out or rotate their devices to fill out the form, which may easily frustrate your supporters and make for a negative user experience.
  • Pop-ups. Pop-ups often translate poorly to smaller screens, in which mobile users can’t locate the close button due to it being off-screen. It’s best to avoid pop-ups altogether, but if you do include them, check that they can be resized.
  • Images. Make sure your images adjust for different screen sizes. Otherwise, your mobile users will be overwhelmed with large images that fill their entire screen and distract them from other more important content.
  • Buttons. Buttons are calls-to-action that encourage visitors to act once they’re inspired. When used strategically, they can play a major role in your mobile fundraising and shouldn’t be cut simply because the screen is smaller.

Don’t let all your hard work designing your website go to waste. Instead, make sure all elements adjust to fit any size screen. Remember, a CMS with automatic responsiveness will streamline this process, so you can spend less time optimizing each element and more time developing engaging content.

2. Incorporate search engine optimization best practices

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your nonprofit’s website to help it prominently rank on popular search engines like Google. This directly impacts your website’s performance by boosting the quantity and quality of web traffic.

Incorporate these best practices to boost your search engine rankings:

  • Minimize page load time. Google recommends a load time of 3 seconds or less. You can reduce your page load speed by compressing images and minimizing the number of elements on the page (such as excessive coding and unnecessary characters). Not only is page speed a Google ranking factor, but quicker load times also lead to lower bounce rates, particularly with mobile users. In fact, as page load time goes from one to ten seconds, the probability of a mobile user bouncing increases by 123%.
  • Add alt-text to images. Alt-text is a short phrase or sentence that describes an image’s appearance or purpose on a web page for visitors using screen reading technology. Put simply, alt-text tells search engines what your page is about, so it can deliver your content to the right audiences.
  • Customize your meta descriptions. A meta description is a brief summary of a page’s content and purpose. This is what search engines display in search results to tell users what your page is about. A well-written meta description can persuade the right audience to click through to your content if it appears to include the information they’re searching for.
  • Use headings. Headings add structure to your content, which boosts its readability and therefore makes for better content. Plus, search engines like Google will use headings to figure out what your webpage is about and determine its ranking.

Good SEO involves several moving parts. These four best practices will serve as a great starting point, but you’ll need to continue to grow your SEO techniques if you want to fully maximize your organization’s visibility online. By doing so, you’ll increase traffic and connect with the right audience, so you can make progress toward your conversion goals.

3. Implement security measures

When a supporter enters their private information on your website, such as credit card information or a home address, they’re indicating that they trust your team. If your website experiences a data breach, you’ll likely lose this trust and support altogether.

To protect supporters’ information to the best of your abilities, implement these extra security procedures:

  • Ensure your donation form is PCI compliant. According to Morweb, investing in a PCI-compliant payment processor is essential in order to protect your donors’ payment information. A payment processor encrypts donors’ credit card information, so that an intercepting attacker would only see random characters instead of credit card details.
  • Maintain your HTTPS status. This acronym stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure” and is an encrypted version of HTTP, which is the main protocol for transferring data online. HTTPS encrypts the communication between your browser and server so that hackers cannot intercept the information.
  • Use authentication for sign-ins. Authentication is a security process that verifies each user’s identity as they log in. Put simply, a user enters their login credentials, which are then sent to the authentication server where they’re compared with all user credentials on file. This ensures unauthorized users can’t access donors’ and members’ accounts on your website.
  • Set requirements for passwords. This is particularly important in association web design and for other member-based organizations that offer private intranets where members store their data. Consider setting requirements such as using at least 8 characters, numbers, symbols, and a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters.

To prioritize security on your website, avoid using an open-source CMS like WordPress or Drupal. An open-source CMS means that the source code is publicly available, making your website more susceptible to cyber attacks and data leaks. A CMS that is owned and maintained by a single company is more reliable and will protect your donors’ information.

The Gist

With the right strategies and nonprofit-specific CMS, developing an online presence for your nonprofit is a breeze. In no time, you’ll engage current supporters, connect with new prospects, and reach your online fundraising goals.

About the Author

Murad Bushnaq is the Founder and CEO of Morweb. Since its inception in 2014, Murad has acted as Creative Director and Chief Technologist to help nonprofits spread their vision online through engaging design, intuitive software and strategic communication.