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9 nonprofit web design best practices

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Web design is crucial for nonprofits as many supporters use what they see online as a basis for how much they will or will not give. Interactive, innovative designs translate into supporter engagement and more online donations.

Looking to improve your nonprofit website? Here are our 9 best practices for nonprofit web design:

  1. Be mobile-friendly
  2. Create easy-to-use navigation
  3. Focus on pagespeed
  4. Include social media sharing
  5. Make your branding consistent
  6. Post high-quality graphics
  7. Highlight your donation form
  8. Give updates
  9. Integrate your CRM

If designing your own website seems like too much for you, check out Double the Donation's Top 10 Nonprofit Website Design Companies for consultants who can help you get your feet wet.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or working with a design firm, read on to learn how to optimize your site to broaden your exposure and supporter base!

1. Be mobile-friendly

Why you should do it

Tons of American adults have a smartphone, so it’s safe to say that many of your supporters are visiting your site via phones, tablets, and other favorite mobile devices.

You’ll want to optimize your site for mobile to ensure your supporters are getting the best experience possible, no matter their preferred device.

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you could be deterring a lot of potential and current donors!

How you should do it

Find a responsive template that will adjust your website to mobile, but don’t solely rely on that.

When building your site, take a minimalistic approach.

Remember to use larger fonts and don’t cram too much information in one section. Following a vertical layout will help when scrolling on a smaller screen!

2. Create easy-to-use navigation

Why you should do it

Your navigation directs visitors to the information they’re looking for. If they’re getting lost with a difficult navigation system, they’re like to abandon your page.

In other words, if supporters can’t easily find what they’re looking for on your site, they won’t stay on your site.

Plus, a clear navigation will help you prioritize your information by placing content in categories based on relevance!

How you should do it

Include a navigation bar that’s visible on every page. Most sites feature their navigation bar across the top of the page or along the lefthand side.

Be sure to keep your copy concise for the best donor retention results. Make navigation titles short and sweet, never exceeding 3 words, and always get your message across on the first read. There’s no need for elaborate words that might confuse supporters!

If your categories have multiple elements, look into drop-down menus for the cleanest easiest navigation. However, make sure they’re only one level to keep them concise.

3. Focus on pagespeed

Why you should do it

Focusing on pagespeed, the amount of time it takes a page to load, will help ensure your supporters see as much of your information as possible and avoid wasting their time.

If supporters have to wait for your images and copy to load, they’ll more than likely abandon your page, resulting in fewer donations.

And if they abandon your site, it will be easy for them to find their information somewhere else on a page that will load quickly.

How you should do it

Again, take a minimalistic approach!

Besides giving your site a clean and professional look, fewer buttons, images, elements, and plugins will speed up your page load time.

If you’ve already done all this, try compressing and resizing your images. If your image’s natural size is larger than the size it displays on your page, resize it to save space and time spent waiting for it to load.

4. Include social media sharing

Why you should do it.

More than likely, your website isn’t your nonprofit’s only online presence or platform.

Your supporters will have personal preferences on how they engage with your nonprofit and you’ll want to make your information available on every platform.

Plus, including social sharing on your website will reassure your supporters that your digital communications strategy is varied and reliable.

How you should do it.

The two most popular sharing options are email and social media!

You can add social media sharing buttons to your homepage and even integrate your nonprofit’s Twitter, Facebook, and other sites’ feeds into your website for constant updates all in one central location.

You can even offer a subscription to your email newsletter. Your email marketing system can more than likely generate a code to insert into your website to add this widget.

5. Make your branding consistent

Why you should do it

A site that looks and feels like your organization will make visitors feel secure when they land on your page. Plus, it’ll give your nonprofit a better sense of professionalism because a cohesive theme and well-branded site will make it look like your organization put significant into your online persona, which reinforces their authority and makes donors more likely to give.

Consistent branding gives your nonprofit a sense of authority and builds trust with supporters.

If supporters find your website through your Facebook page or other outlet, but your website doesn’t feature the same logo as your Facebook, they might think they’ve clicked a bad link and leave your site. You’ll want to make sure they feel like they’re interacting with your nonprofit!

How you should do it

Pick an overall theme for your website that features your logo!

You can also select a handful of select colors, a few bright hues and a few neutrals, and comparable fonts.

Remember to make all your buttons standardized. That means picking the same color, shape, and size for all of them!

6. Post high-quality graphics

Why you should do it

Visual mediums are often the most successful when it comes to portraying meaning.

Pictures, infographics, videos, and downloadable resources will give your nonprofit credibility, but can also convey your message even faster than copy can.

Plus, high-quality images will instantly boost or improve your site, making it more appealing and grasping donors’ attention quickly.

How you should do it

Always use images that are unique to you so they feel like you!

Use high-quality images, in both pixels and morality. In other words, use pictures taken with a high-quality camera and pictures of your team and volunteers at events that further your cause. Make sure your infographics and downloadable resources are well designed, both for readability and clarity in pixels. Your content itself should be high quality, proving your organization’s passion for your cause.

Emotionally-charged graphics will translate your dedication to your cause to supporters visiting your site.

7. Highlight your donation form

Why you should do it

If supporters can’t find where to donate, how will they support your nonprofit?

An easily accessible online donation form will encourage your supporters to give. Make donating easy and simplify it by only requiring a few clicks.

Your donation form should be handy the moment an individual wants to make a contribution!

How you should do it

Your website should be active to feed your supporters information and accept online donations.

You can position the button or link to your donation form in your navigation bar so it’s always at the top of your page.

You can also include links to your donation form on relevant pages and place a donation widget on your homepage.

8. Give updates

Why you should do it

As previously mentioned, your site’s main purpose is to accept donations, but that’s not all.

Supporters will be visiting your page to learn more about your organization.

While supporters are on the cusp of becoming donors, you’ll want to make sure they know everything they can about your organization so they can determine if donating to your cause aligns with their interests and values.

How you should do it

Think specifically about what your nonprofit is hoping to gain from increased views of your website. Is it to increase newsletter subscriptions or memberships? Maybe you’d simply like to increase the number of attendees at your next event.

No matter what your goal is, writing compelling copy summarizing the progress of your current event or project is sure to increase supporter engagement.

With your progress reports and updates, you’ll be building relationships with new supporters and potential donors, all while maintaining your relationships with current donors.

9. Integrate your CRM

Why you should do it

Your organization will be receiving a lot of information through your website. Whether it's through event registration, online donation forms, or membership registrations, there’s a lot of donor data that needs to be organized!

Take the hassle out of data management by integrating your CRM into your website.

This way, you can immediately record the data collected from your online donation forms, spending less time computing and more time furthering your cause.

How you should do it

When deciding on a CRM to use, look for a database that will work hand in hand with your website.

For a foolproof plan, you can choose a provider that offers website design and a CRM!

Either way, integrating your CRM into your website will give you endless benefits. Aside from saving you time and avoiding hours of creating data entries, you’ll benefit from high conversion rates, increased productivity, and a faster transaction time.

Automating integration between your CRM and website will provide you with consistent information and one master record, which can lead to more accurate donor profiles and eliminate any duplicate information. And remember, successful donor outreach is key for your nonprofit’s funding.


Now that you have the 9 best practices for web design, your website should look professional and sleek all while conveying why your cause is important and needs support. Get to coding!

Image credit

Ronald Pruitt

Ronald Pruitt

Since founding 4aGoodCause in 1998, Ronald has had the joy of doing what he loves - building software that makes a difference in the world. For almost 20 years, Ronald and the 4aGoodCause online fundraising platform have helped raise millions of dollars for nonprofits from Maine to Hawaii. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @4aGC.

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