10 Commandments for Designing Websites for Charitable Organizations

Creating an impressive web design for a social-driven cause is a huge responsibility. If done right, the website will bring contributions which will enrich the lives of many.

A successful charity website will need to provide its users information about what charity they will be donating to. It will have to get donors involved in the process and thus ensure that they do donate money for the right cause. Thus a non-profit site must make it easy for visitors to learn more about the organization, how to donate money while getting involved with the cause. The site must achieve this in an appealing manner to their targeted donors.

What better way to guide designers of donor websites and enlighten their path by listing out 10 web designing commandments for charitable organizations? Read on.

Note: The article is written in the context of the ‘Ten Commandments‘ – the ten laws that both Jews and Christians believe in.
1. Thine Web Design Shalt Inspire Hope and Not Despair

Often to project the reality, home page is designed with large banners showing sad faces, filth all around, diseased people and things that resound just one thing – despair. Now put yourself in the shoes of the viewer. You land on a website that talks about the plight of people, lack of education, widespread and little-talked-about diseases…. You get the picture, right? There are way too many cues for the viewers to understand the cause that you stand for. Chances are that the viewer would try a few tabs and then swiftly head over to another site. You have just lost a potential donator or a volunteer.

Learning from this: The overall web layout should inspire hope that if ‘YOU’, the viewer, makes a humble contribution, you can make a better world for them. Don’t crib about the rough patches. To showcase how your organization can help and has helped people change lives. Make it easy for the viewers to know how they can join in and make a difference. Your website should come across as a sincere appeal for a gesture of humanity and not plead for sympathy. The vision of The Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (website), for example, is that no one goes hungry in Los Angeles County and images of happy faces who have received food abound on their website. Their site also shows how donors get joy when they give to others.

Charitable Organization Web Design - LA food bank

2. Remember Thou Art A Charitable Site Not Commercial Site

That’s why it is suggested you look for web designers who have at least some charitable sites under their belt. Commercial sites are designed to make their way to the viewers’ wallet but the web design of a charitable site should come across such that it stirs the human within and urge viewers to come forth to help. Each element, right from content on the tabs through to color harmony (cue: images in sepia or in sharp contrast) should evoke concern for the cause and compel to take action — Now!

3. Honor Thy Donors’ Money

If you want turnaround on your online charity efforts, keep money matters clear. The giver would want to know how you channelize their contributions to help the society and how their gesture can lead to an impact your organization seeks to make. Show them how and where their money will be used – will it be used to alleviate local communities’ problems or for relief services in a drought struck the city.

Clearly present how their donations or contributions travel from your organization to the beneficiaries. This will speak of your ethics and transparency in the processes. Infographics are one of the best ways to communicate this effectively. Place this information on the home page to benefit from impulse responses.

4. Thou Shalt Make All Efforts to Make the Donation Process Effortless

While the online donation process can be equated with that of online shopping, a study finds, “Giving money on charity websites is 7% harder than spending money on e-commerce sites.” This makes it even more crucial for you to focus on creating a smooth user – experience. Keep the checkout process with least possibly of bouncing off before completion. Provide for making non-monetary contributions. However, you might want to limit this to nearby areas. Unlike e-commerce sites or other websites, Mazon has made the donation process simple. Except for the basics, they have not asked many details of donors. Their payment procedure too is simple; it’s just a two-step process on one page. The site also displays the accreditation given to it by BBB which shows that the organization meets all of the Standards for Charity Accountability.

Charitable Organization Web Design - Mazon

5. Thou Shalt Not Kill Web Page Utility

Unnecessarily lengthy web pages will lead to fewer online donations. Design the information architecture such that it is easy, quick and intuitive for the viewers to (A) know your cause (B) how you use donations (C) how to make a donation.

Some of the charitable websites have done this with effective content on the tabs like “Understanding Parkinson’s”, “I want to volunteer”, “Adopt an animal”, “Current campaign”, and so on. This enhances the user-experience and increases involvement. If you hold campaigns frequently, have the date, time and venue on the banner. Highlight which organizations support/sponsor your cause. This induces credibility and encourages visitors to come aboard with you as contributors.

6. Remember to Keep Holy the Mission and Not Mince Words

Perhaps the sore spot of charitable websites is it doesn’t give out all the information that a donor or a contributor would want to know about. This includes clearly stating the mission, values, scope of operations, demography you serve, the kind of work you have undertaken and plan to do. While you do this effectively, design a page that talks about HOW your organization achieves its mission. It is a no brainer if the donors aren’t convinced of the organization’s mission and work, they won’t shell out a penny.

7. Thou Shalt Never Forget to Give A Call to Action

You have stated your cause and have said your story. Great. What’s next? What more should your web design achieve? Aha! *Suggest* viewers to come forward and do their bit for society. This could be by donating money or by volunteering their service or you could urge them to come forward and donate physical items by the way of non-monetary contributions. Give viewers flexible options and an opportunity to act now. It’s quite likely that not all your visitors would be able to contribute financially or give time, so should you let them bounce off?? Nah! This leads me to…

8. Thou Shalt Give Thine Visitors Numerous Ways to Stay Connected

Harp sweet notes on the social media, donors and volunteers use it to research charitable organizations. Flash the Twitter #tag of the cause your organization peruses. Invite viewers to join your Facebook page to give their suggestions and ideas for inspiring the underprivileged, for spreading mass-awareness, for urging people to conserve natural habitat of endangered species, or whatever your cause is.

Place the call for action in such a way that it’s easy for visitors to at least stay in the know of the campaigns you undertake such as road shows, volunteers’ week, marathons, and so on. You can do this by effectively placing tabs for subscribe to newsletters, sign in as a member, share your idea and change lives.

9. Thou Shalt Not Bear Content/Images That Make No Sense

Avoid too much of noise on the home page with cluttered images and endless-scroll content. Using paid images isn’t a crime; however, the images should be used as an indicative of the situation and shouldn’t be deemed to be believed as the true situation. Don’t bombard viewers with your story. Let them soak in the information, connect with your cause and decide to explore your site.

10. Thou Shalt Showcase the Impact Thine Contributors Made

Gallery of photos of volunteers doing their bit and videos on how the charity fund has improved lives of many is a great way to show that your organization is dedicatedly working towards its mission. This works in two ways, one that it helps connect emotionally with your cause and secondly it allows the giver to see, feel and experience how their donations will make an impact.

Summing Up

Thus, make sure that your site inspires hope and does not reflect despair. Cheerfulness must be the order of the day and not gloom. Your site aims to make people happy, not sad. Remember to clearly state your mission, values, scope of operations, demography you serve, the kind of work you have undertaken and plan to do.

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  1. Muy buen artículo. Bastante útil a la hora de iniciar un proyecto sin ánimo de lucro.
    Lo tomaré en cuenta en los próximos proyectos.

  2. Wow nice article guys

  3. Cool designs and Nice Stuff

  4. Wow! i just to love read your great post about Designing thanks for this too:)

  5. Thanks for sharing this useful information.I was looking for this type of blog so thank you for sharing this information with us.

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