December 4, 2014
With the rise of mobile devices, apps and social media sites, websites seem relatively dull in the overall online world. Even though websites are the elder statesmen of sorts when it comes to the Internet, they're still very valuable for nonprofits. There's no other mechanism in place to easily house and display the information potential contributors want before they decide to make a donation. Using social media to raise awareness is a component of successful outreach, but websites about specific projects and the overall mission of a nonprofit are still vital to operations. Additionally, websites are customizable and reactive in a way that rigidly defined social networks aren't. A nonprofit website, properly produced, is a reflection of the organization and the work it does – not just a presence on Facebook or Twitter.
So what can nonprofit groups do to make sure they are getting the most out of their web presence?
Know who's visiting
While potential and current contributors will make up a significant portion of Web traffic, they aren't the only ones who will want to access a nonprofit website. Tech Soup pointed out that other stakeholders and interested parties, from reporters to the board of directors, will visit at some point. For that reason, an approach incorporating easy navigation for many different types of visitors is important. Having a front-page menu that allows visitors to access appropriate resources through a landing page offers an excellent introduction to an organization.
Have engaging content
Content is a buzzword for businesses and nonprofits alike, but there's real value behind the concept. For charitable organizations specifically, it makes sense to tell stories about events and ongoing projects, along with the standard information about overall mission and providing annual reports. Text, photos and video all play a part in these efforts and help in telling an engaging story. For many nonprofits, the best content simply describes current activities and tells readers how those efforts are helping the community being served.
A responsive layout
This is a technical area that needs to be addressed to make sure the information on a nonprofit website is as available as possible. Having a website that's readable in mobile device browsers allows organizations to reach people no matter where or how they decide to visit, npENGAGE pointed out. The relatively small investment into mobile compliance will pay off with fewer frustrated visitors.
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