Your Nonprofit Website vs. Donor Attrition: 4 Top Tips

The Keela Team • Aug 05, 2022

Your nonprofit website is a major touchpoint for all donors. Whether they’ve been giving to you for years or they’re just hearing about you for the first time, your website is the central location for finding new engagement opportunities, learning more about your cause, and of course, donating. 

However, understanding that you need a sophisticated and engaging website to retain donors and actually creating one are two different things. Beyond just having an eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing web design, how can your website engage your supporters and help you reduce donor attrition? 

To provide insight into how your website can help encourage supporters to stay with your nonprofit long-term, this article will explore four top web design tips.

From effectively using your data to connect with donors to improve your process for accepting online donations, the strategies discussed in this article will provide suggestions for practical changes to your website that you can make yourself.

If you’re interested in a complete redesign or expanding your website’s functionality with new software applications, consider partnering with a consultant or software provider to get help tailored to your nonprofit’s unique needs.

1. Spotlight engaging campaigns, events, and opportunities.

Your nonprofit’s website is the face of your organization. It shows off your brand, promotes your initiatives, and encourages supporters to get involved. However, while it’s a strong marketing tool, don’t think of it solely as an advertising space to generate donations. Instead, try conceptualizing it as an engagement hub where supporters can get connected with all the information and resources they need to join your cause.  

While your nonprofit should still definitely include paths for supporters to engage with you by donating, make sure there are more opportunities on your website than just making a gift. Providing a variety of opportunities outside of just giving can help reduce donor attrition as supporters feel like an involved part of your nonprofit’s community rather than just a source of revenue. 

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Design your website so supporters can easily get involved by making the following tools accessible: 

  • Volunteer program resources. Recruiting volunteers is likely an ongoing initiative at your nonprofit, so ensure that your website makes the process simple by providing clear information about your volunteer program. Write “job descriptions” for each volunteer opportunity, explain a little bit about what working for your organization is like, and add a link to fill out your sign-up form. 
  • Event calendars and sign-up pages. Events are an opportunity for your supporters to get together to socialize, learn more about your mission, participate in fun activities, and help support your organization through ticket sales. For your events, create a dedicated events page with a calendar and sign-up forms to allow supporters to see what you have planned in the upcoming months and register ahead of time. 
  • Educational blogs. Your nonprofit’s blog is a place where you can essentially post anything you want about your organization. Provide supporters with engaging content that educates them about your mission, shares stories from your beneficiaries, or provides updates on your initiatives’ progress. 

To draw attention to these opportunities and a variety of eye-catching calls to action (CTAs) buttons that link to relevant pages. A well-placed CTA can encourage supporters to convert at that very moment, whether that means donating, registering for an event, or subscribing to your monthly newsletter. 

2. Make it easy for users to access and navigate your website.

If a supporter has gone to the trouble of going to your website to look for ways to get involved or give back to your cause, the last thing you want is for them to lose interest or become frustrated by a clunky navigation system. 

Consider the following accessibility and navigation strategies to optimize supporters’ online experiences and ensure that they continue to stay connected to your nonprofit: 

  • Clear menus to key pages. Submenus can be helpful for adding links to a variety of interesting and useful pages to your navigation. However, ensure that all of your most important pages are clearly visible at a single glance rather than hiding in several nested submenus.  
  • Accessibility best practices. Ensure everyone who visits your website can connect with your nonprofit by improving its accessibility. Accessibility standards include making your website navigable for screen readers by adding alt text for pictures and transcripts for videos, ensuring that your text is always readable with significant color contrasts, legible fonts, and the ability to zoom in, and making your pages optimized for mobile users.
  • A clear donate button is visible at all times. While you want to give your supporters more opportunities than just donating, making the donation process easy is still a very important part of leveraging your website. Add a brightly colored donation button to your menu so supporters can give any time they want to while browsing your site. 

To test whether your site is easy to navigate, gather volunteers who are unfamiliar with your website and have them run a series of tests. For example, have them open your website and assign them a specific task, such as signing up to volunteer for an opportunity available on weekends. Then, have them narrate their experience completing that task aloud. 

Tests like this can provide insight into how visitors perceive different parts of your website, the assumptions they make about your navigation, and generally how easy it is to find key pages on your site. 

How to Make Nonprofit Websites Convert Better and Work Smarter

3. Streamline the online giving experience.

Online giving is likely a major source of revenue for your organization. Many donors will navigate to your website with the express purpose of giving, while others will be persuaded to make a contribution after learning more about your mission. 

This means that creating an online donation experience that is easy, comfortable, and secure is beneficial for both your donors and your nonprofit. As you’re strengthening or revamping your nonprofit website, you can streamline your online giving process by:

  • Investing in a PCI-compliant payment processor to prevent fraud. While donors lapse for many individual reasons, your nonprofit can potentially see many donors leave at once if you experience a security breach. Retain your donors and protect their sensitive financial information by investing in a secure payment processor
  • Offering a variety of payment options. Allow your donors to give how they want to, whether it’s through credit, debit, ACH, or even international processing. When assessing payment processors, choose an option that gives your supporters flexibility. 
  • Minimizing unnecessary fields. Your donation form is an opportunity to gather more information about your supporters, but some nonprofits make the mistake of going overboard and adding too many required questions to their donation forms. Long donation forms with unnecessary questions can lead to page abandonment, wherein supporters leave the page before completing their donation. Limit your questions to only the essentials, and rest assured you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about your donors later. 

There are also ways you can make your donors feel more secure about the giving process, such as branding your donation form or even embedding it straight into your website. As there are, unfortunately, many scams masquerading as charities, taking these additional steps can go a long way toward making donors feel safe about giving to your organization.

4. Leverage donor data to improve post-gift messaging.

Your website will form many of your donors’ first impressions of your nonprofit, but it can also be used as a tool to continue engaging and stewarding them long after making their first gift. For example, the data collected from your payment processing tool during the donation process can be used to enhance your outreach. 

Leverage the data you gather through your website to:

  • Personalize donor thank-you letters and acknowledgments. After a donor gives, your website and donation processor should be automated to immediately send a thank-you message acknowledging their gift. As donors continue to give to your nonprofit, you can create more personalized thank-you messages that show your appreciation for that supporter specifically.

Try using thank-you letter templates as a starting point for creating these messages and customizing them to reflect your nonprofit’s brand. Then leave placeholders open in the template where you can insert details unique to each supporter, such as their giving amount, how long they’ve contributed to your nonprofit, or the name of any specific campaigns they’ve given to. 

  • Create more effective fundraising appeals. Take note of how supporters interact with your website. Which of your blog posts receive the most traffic? What pages do supporters look at before deciding to donate? Information like this can help you craft future fundraising appeals. For example, an animal shelter might notice that their most popular blog posts are announcements of new animals arriving at the shelter, then decide to launch a sponsor-a-pet program where supporters can give to help specific animals. 
  • Offer additional opportunities for engagement or giving. To raise donations, you will need to routinely message your supporters to ask for contributions. You can increase the chances of a supporter responding to these requests by personalizing the message based on their past behavior on your website. For example, if they gave to a specific campaign last time, provide an update on that campaign and urge them to keep supporting or try suggesting another similar campaign they can give to.
donor stewardship

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Remember your website has many purposes: it’s a marketing, engagement, communication, and data collection tool. You can make the most of these many features by ensuring that all of your data entry forms are properly collecting your supporters’ information so you can leverage it for future fundraising appeals. 

Reducing donor attrition can be a challenge, but your nonprofit website is a powerful tool for sharing engagement opportunities, making getting involved easy, and connecting with your supporters to help retain them. Assess how your website currently helps you retain donors, then try implementing these tips and investing in the software solutions you need to optimize your supporters’ online experience.

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About the author:

Tobi Nifesi

Head of Content at Keela