5 minute read

You’re on a mission, and in order to fulfill your mission, you need the proper tools and technology. As such, a captivating and engaging nonprofit website should rank pretty high on your list of must-haves; built right, it can be a powerful tool with game-changing technology.

Too many times, however, nonprofits opt for what they believe is a cheaper solution, piecing together a website using a module here and a plugin there and even sending their online visitors to a third-party site to do things like make a donation or pay a registration fee. This rarely ends up to be “cheap,” and it can cost them in the form of a poor user experience with frustrated visitors leaving to go elsewhere. These days, your online presence–and experience–is everything.

The great news is it’s entirely possible to have an affordable nonprofit website with built-in functionality and all the necessary tools without breaking the bank or your budget or sending people through a confusing or potentially untrustworthy flow. With the right tools and features, your nonprofit’s website can do more of the heavy lifting, freeing you up to focus more time and energy on your cause. Make your website work harder for you with these six essential tools and features every effective nonprofit website should include. 

1. Event Registration

Some studies suggest that the number one thing website visitors want from nonprofits is the ability to register online for events. Online event registration is no longer a perk or a pleasant surprise for people—it’s an expectation. Just remember to keep online forms short and sweet. One of the biggest reasons for abandoned online registrations is a lengthy and confusing form. In fact, conversion rates decrease with every additional form field. When you have a quick and easy registration process that’s fully electronic and hassle-free, you’ll see better event turnouts and lose the headache of dealing with snail mail, paper forms and misplaced checks.

2. Online Donation Processing

For many donors, online donation processing is a no-brainer. Writing a check, addressing an envelope and dropping it in the mail—or driving to your office—requires way more effort than most people are accustomed to in 2019. By giving your donors a fast, simple and integrated option for online donations, you’re making it easier for them to support you. Plus, an integrated donation system typically means lower attrition rates. According to npENGAGE, 50–75% of donors abandon a donation form when redirected to a third-party site to complete the transaction. If you don’t yet have donation processing built into your website, it’s a great step to take in order to instill trust and confidence in your donors so they’re more comfortable forking over their credit card numbers.

3. Content Management System

Your website is your organization’s central nervous system, and everything you do should point back to or be reflected on your site. This is why a good content management system is so important. To be clear, a content management system, or CMS, is the administrative system for your nonprofit’s website that allows you to add, update and manage content quickly and efficiently. Content refers to everything that you add to your website, from photos, headlines and videos to call-to-action buttons and blog posts. A good CMS makes it easy for you to keep your website fresh and relevant by updating content with point-and-click simplicity. It used to be that you had to go through a programmer to even change a photo caption. Today, effective nonprofit websites come with a user-friendly CMS that allows even someone who’s “tech-challenged” to update content in just a few steps. At Firespring, our websites come with a user-friendly CMS called the Springboard. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how our expert engineers developed the Springboard and why.

4. Donor Management System

According to Bloomerang, around 60% of donors only give once to a cause, which means that many organizations are spinning their wheels while their website serves as a revolving door, welcoming new donors and watching current ones walk away. So, how do you build a donor retention plan that helps you stay in touch with your supporters and build relationships that foster loyalty? One place to start is with a great donor management tool that integrates with your website. Ideally, we recommend going with a donor management tool that has cloud-based technology, integrated email communication and a dashboard with built-in intelligence that provides insight into how constituents are engaging with your organization.

5. Fundraising Pages

An organization’s fundraising page can be its own greatest enemy in securing donations if it isn’t designed well. That’s why it’s crucial to have fundraising pages, also referred to as landing pages, which are branded properly and easy to navigate. Optimally, every fundraising initiative within your organization will have its own dedicated fundraising (or landing) page. Custom branded fundraising pages on your nonprofit website can raise up to six times more money than generic ones, according to Nonprofit Tech for Good.

6. Email Marketing

Email marketing has been around for awhile and for good reason: It works. With 91% of all U.S. consumers checking email daily, email marketing is a major player in most nonprofits’ outreach and marketing efforts. It allows you to grow your constituent base, maintain donor relationships and measure results. Additionally, it’s lightning fast and boasts a high return on investment. According to the American Marketing Association, email marketing has the highest ROI among all marketing tools used by nonprofits nationwide, so if you’re not taking advantage of this highly effective marketing channel, it’s time to rethink that strategy. One pro tip: Design your emails to look good on both desktop and mobile devices. More people are checking their email on mobile devices these days, so you want to be sure your messages are easy to read on any screen.

With these tools, you’ll be able to increase efficiency within your nonprofit, so you can spend more time focusing on growing your mission. And on the Firespring platform, all the essentials are built right in so you can manage your nonprofit website from one place. Can you imagine the efficiency and ease of that? Luckily, you don’t have to!

We created a video so you can see it with your own eyes, up close and personal. Whenever it works for you and your schedule, check out our free video-on-demand, An Inside Look at Firespring’s Nonprofit Websites, to learn how you can harness the power of a robust website by using a content management system built for even the least tech-savvy users. So many nonprofits struggle with their online presence–but yours doesn’t have to be one of them. Turn your website from an embarrassment or a fixer upper to something that actually does some significant heavy lifting for your organization. Our free video-on-demand is an excellent place to start.

And, of course, if you’re like, “I don’t need to see anymore, I just want to see my new website!” we’d be happy to give you a quick free test drive. Try us on for size