5 signs you need to update your NGO’s website

Websites for NGOs

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When it comes to an NGO’s website, the initial response from whoever lands on the page really matters. It only takes us a few seconds to create and absorb the first impression, we all make them and subsequently know their importance. It’s the difference between securing a new donor, keeping a new donor, and expanding the reach and impact of the organisation’s cause, or losing the person instantly – all at the click of a button. 
Could your NGO organisation be missing an imperative website necessity that will ensure digital income is optimised? Read on to find out.

The first stage of an NGO’s website is usually to raise awareness only, to show what the organisation does and how the supporter can donate. At these early stages, simple websites, with clear visuals and straightforward copy without any complex areas or back end work, usually get the job done. But when the NGO starts to grow a bit and fundraising, communications and marketing are prioritised, then it’s time for additional functionality.

Sign 1: your NGO’s website payment options are too complex

Payment options can be complex for NGOs. Bank transfers are too much effort for the donor, or it costs the supporter additional time or money. Even TransferWise adds an additional step to the most important element of the donor’s web journey – securing the donation! 

Many NGOs worldwide have only recently added PayPal or one-step credit card payment options to their websites. This simple switch can result in increased income almost immediately. 

WordPress has an excellent custom plugin for NGOs called Give that has excellent functionality. With this customisable plugin, web developers can create slick donation forms that can be custom built and integrate with popular payment methods such as credit cards, Stripe and PayPal, offer easy recurring donation set up, full feature reporting and complete online donor management. 

Example in action: 
Alzheimer’s Society had limited insights into the behaviour of their online supporters and wanted to optimise digital income. After researching digital giving behaviours and testing phase, back-end web development was initiated. By creating bespoke front end design and back end seamless payment integration, Alzheimer’s Society could give their supporters more online payment options which included PayPal, credit card and Apple Pay. 
The result? The charity has seen a 72% increase in donations and conversation rate has jumped from 22% to 65%. Almost overnight campaign income increased and targets were exceeded.

Optimise online payments

Sign 2: You don’t have different donation pages for each campaign

One of the most important takeaways from this article (and for marketing in general) is to keep everything simple, clean and direct. Too much information or copy crowds the message and confuses people.

Clear communication and clean design is the key to effective websites. 

  • For NGOs especially a visual-heavy website is the way to go. Trust, accountability and impact are best demonstrated visually. Images are far more powerful than complex web design. 
  • There’s no need to go too deep with messaging. A simple structure to follow is: This is the problem (the cause), this is why it’s important, and this is how we are addressing it and how you can help.  
  • Menu navigations should be light. Keep the main donation button on the specific page very obvious, using a bright colour. Any secondary call-to-action should be a lesser focus, as the overall objective is to get the supporter to donate

Breaking the overall mission down into projects and turning them into individual campaigns is the way to go for engaging donors, demonstrating impact and best-practice effective marketing.

For best results, each campaign should have its own webpage. Here, to show tangibility, share imagery of the project, along with visuals such as “donation thermometers” with how much is required to hit the target income, which “fills up” as donations start rolling in. 

This is also a great way to update supporters on the particular project and to give a recurring payment by explaining regular gifts will keep the project running for months or years to come. 

Tips to optimise NGOs websites

Sign 3: The back end confirmation of your NGO’s website is not set up correctly

This one is simple: back-end websites coding is best left to the professionals. Having proper configuration set-up back end on your NGO’s website is necessary to be able to use digital marketing tools and functionality such as Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel. This is necessary for future marketing and adds many benefits such as being able to target new “lookalike” audiences via Facebook Advertising to grow your supporter base, and re-target supporters who may have landed on certain webpages but not followed through which making a donation.

Sign 4: Your NGO’s website doesn’t use visuals and SEO for storytelling

Now that you have straight forward seamless online payment options, clean web copy and design, and back-end confirmation set up for marketing – it’s time to amp up storytelling with visuals and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). 

A blog is a great way to create content sharing storytelling led case studies and utilise SEO. SEO is the process of optimising your NGO’s website to get more traffic to it from web search engines. 

SEO is not just a matter of content delivered the proper way with formatting and keywords. The crux is in how the website is built back end with clean coding and how fast it is. To appear in search engine terms, the algorithm uses not just the keywords, but the speed of people clicking the link and how fast the webpage loads. If it’s slow to load, people will click out of the page and it will be penalised with the algorithm. 

In countries like Indonesia is even more important to ensure websites run as fast as possible as generally the internet can be slower than countries where fast internet is available. 43% of people are unlikely to return to a slow-loading mobile site. 

When it comes to storytelling individual case studies are the way to go here, supported by plenty of visuals. Supporters relate to individual stories of a beneficiary that benefited from the NGO, rather than arbitrary facts or statistics. It’s far easy for people to connect with emotive stories, rather than complex issues or data.  

Tips to optimise NGOs websites

Sign 5 : Your NGO’s website isn’t mobile responsive

NGOs can no longer get away with having websites that are not responsive to mobile. Mobile internet traffic has surpassed desktop traffic, but only 35% of organisations have mobile-optimised sites. SEO is assisted too as mobile responsive web design increases search engine ranking by 77.56%! 

Some templates are built for mobile from the get-go, but in most cases, a web developer will need to ensure it’s optimised back end. A website being “mobile responsive” means having a friendly responsive design, content and features with no need for the person whos viewing the site to do anything differently to adjust the page. 

Tips to optimise NGOs website

Rounding it up:

So, there you have it. To ensure your NGO’s website is optimised to the best of its abilities focus on the following to expand the reach and increase income: 

  • Set up easy modern seamless online payment options;
  • Keep design and communication simple. Break down the mission into individual campaigns;
  • Get a developer to set up back end configuration correctly;
  • Use case studies with many visuals and SEO for storytelling;
  • Make sure every page is optimised for mobile.


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