Let's face it: People have short attention spans online. We're all clicking around furiously trying to nab the quickest, most-reliable answers to our questions. Your nonprofit home page needs to share just the right amount of information. Effectively. And, oh yes, quickly.
Here are ten things your nonprofit home page must have in order to accomplish two goals: grab a reader's attention and spur that person to action.
- Something that tugs the heartstrings
Anchor your home page with an arresting image, a bold statement or the start of an incredible story. Connect to your visitors on an emotional level to hook them into the rest of your content. When you show that you align with what they care about and can relate to, you're starting a conversation.
- A two-second statement
This brief statement should sum up who your organization is and what you do. This will ensure that anyone glancing at the page "gets it" right away. (Hint: This is not your mission statement. Please put that away on your "About Us" page where it belongs.) This sound bite, instead, shows differentiation and value of your nonprofit and its unique work.
- Clear, intuitive navigation
Your website should be organized according to the expectations of the people who come to your website. Did you notice this did not say "organized according to your organizational chart"? Website visitors are looking for more information about what you do, how they can get involved and why they should care. Org charts don't jive with that train of thought.
- A quick case (or link to a case) for your nonprofit
Why is your organization the nonprofit to support? What are you doing differently? What's special about your volunteers, constituents, geography, programs, events, etc.? There are more than 1.8 million charities in the United States right now. And - let's be honest - many that do similar work to yours. Make your case!
- A way to capture people whose interest has been captured
Worst-case scenario: Someone visits your website, thinks "wow, that's really cool... huh," and then jets off to check his or her email again, leaving your website in the dust. That's a missed opportunity for a relationship. Be sure to have a great email sign-up form that entices people to provide their email address.
- A big donate button for people ready to give
Don't be afraid to ask for donations on your website. Isn't that the whole point of online fundraising? Supporters new and veteran will appreciate an easy donation flow. So make that button shine!
- A third-party endorsement
Consider including ratings from GuideStar and Charity Navigator, or a testimonial from someone else regarding your nonprofit's services (a volunteer, a beneficiary, etc.). A lot of the effectiveness of the messages on your website depends on the messenger. When you compare "My organization rocks" to "That organization changed my life because of..." you can sense which one is stronger. The "we're awesome" argument doesn't carry much weight on its own; let others help build your case.
- Something that shows where the money goes
Be sure to share information or links to information about where donations go. Share what percentage of donations goes directly to mission-related activities. Consider making a connection between donations and services provided. One of our favorite examples is Malaria No More's case that $10 equals one bed net.
- Something portable
Social media is a key way to connect and communicate with supporters. Be sure that all those hours tweeting and blogging don't go to waste: Provide links to your social media presence, and make it easy for supporters to grab content and bring it where they are (ex: text they can paste as a status update promoting a campaign of yours or a personal story on your website).
- Links to events and other opportunities for engagement
Give folks other opportunities to get involved and stay connected. Maybe there's a petition to sign or pledge to complete. Have an upcoming event? Link to registration details. And as your site evolves, consider adding a feedback loop-polls, quizzes, comments, messages boards and so on.
A final reality check: If you've worked your way through this list and think you're good to go, take a moment to pause and reflect on the home page's usability. Be sure to test the site to make sure that it's as easy to navigate as you think it is. Ask a couple of volunteers, donors and others in your target audience to try it out and provide feedback to make the finishing touches.
These tips were adapted from an entry from the Nonprofit Marketing blog and the associated comments. Visit the original post here.