Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

December 18, 2013

Four tips to improve your nonprofit’s website

Roy Chomko

As more of our day-to-day tasks have moved online, so has the way people make donations. According to, online gifts to nonprofits are growing faster than any other type of donations. In fact, online donations rose 14 percent last year to $2.1 billion, while the overall rise in donations was just 1.5 percent. So what does this mean for nonprofits and performing arts theaters? It means a your website is more important than ever.

Unfortunately, some nonprofits have not made their web site a priority, feeling that they don’t have the resources to dedicate to it. However, nonprofits can no longer ignore their website, as it’s sure to be one of their largest sources of income in the coming years. Once the decision to improve the website is made, nonprofits must then focus on creating a positive user experience that helps boost purchases and donations. 

Here are a few key points to keep in mind when designing a nonprofit site:

1.       Put your data to good use

From donations, membership renewals, event registration and ticket history to their past behavior on your site, today’s website provide tons of data on your supporters. However, despite the many affordable tools on the market, many organizations fail to use this data to personalize a user’s online experience.

Instead of serving up the same content to every visitor, use your data to cater your site’s information to each person’s interests. For instance, if a visitor bought a ticket to last season’s winter ballet, showcase any upcoming ballet performances first on the calendar. If a member repeatedly donates to the same cause time and time again, place information related to that cause right on the homepage so they see it immediately and consider placing another donation.

2.       Show your story; don’t just tell it

To turn any prospect into a full-on supporter, you first have to gain their trust and attention. Since anyone can write a heartfelt blog post, turn to different types of media, like videos, images, graphs and even infographics. By using more than just text, you’re able to show visitors what your organization really stands for and the impact it’s making.

Instead of just telling supporters the total amount of money that’s been raised, demonstrate the overall impact their donations have made through a graph or infographic. Did you have a great fundraiser or charity event recently? Take plenty of photos or videos, and post them on your site and social media outlets. If you’re a performing arts theater, for example, be sure to have an archive of past performances. In general, these actual event images will tell a much better story than typical stock photos.

3.       Offer micro-donations

If your organization allows users to purchase items or tickets on its site, give people the option to make a micro-donation by rounding up their purchase to the nearest dollar. People are already engaged in your cause, indicating they’d be more inclined to help out a little more by contributing a few extra cents. A few extra nickels and dimes might not seem much at first, but after a few months of rising donations, you’ll be sure to see the return on investment.

4.       Streamline the ticketing process

First things first, if you’re going to sell tickets online (for events, conferences or performances), make sure the function is available on all devices. As more users are going mobile, so are their purchasing habits – making it necessary organizations make their sites and donation/ticketing functions mobile friendly.

Second, if your event requires visitors to select what day, time and seat they want for their ticket, make sure you have easy-to-use filter options in place to make this a hassle-free process. For starters, display the calendar in a way that’s easy to digest. You don’t want to confuse buyers by having too many options cluttering the screen. Instead, allow visitors to filter select days and time they’re most interested in. Also, display the seating chart so users can better visualize the setup and choose a seat that matches their own needs and preferences. You can even go a step further and show images of the views of the stage from each seat.

Creating an engaging and user-friendly nonprofit website needs to take priority, as donors and supporters start doing more of their giving online. While it takes time and resources, it’ll soon pay off as memberships and donations skyrocket.

Roy Chomko co-founded Adage Technologies in 2001, combining a passion for technology and the desire to build a company focused on driving business value through web technology. As president, Roy's energy and customer centric approach have helped to grow Adage to a well-respected web and software development firm.

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