The Nonprofit Website Challenge5 min read

One of our core values at Blue Zoo is encouraging community and connection, and we prioritize working that out through creating branding for nonprofit organizations. We’ve worked with twelve different nonprofits (and counting!) to create unique, effective digital experiences for their clients and participants. We’ve also participated in GiveCamp NWA annually, and have volunteered and spoken at WordCamp Fayetteville since 2011. We believe that by using our talents in design, marketing, and branding, we can leverage our own gifts in order to help others in their missions.

According to one report, Northwest Arkansas is behind only New York City for nonprofit organizations per capita. In NWA, we have many fundraising professionals who are creating organizations for causes they believe in more than anything: we also have many wealthy, generous, philanthropic residents looking for causes to support. We have an enormous opportunity in our own backyard to support charitable organizations by creating websites and marketing tools that will help them connect to potential donors and co-laborers.

Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations are truly at a disadvantage when it comes to reaching supporters because people generally hold them to different standards than they do for-profit businesses. However, many of the same marketing and design approaches that help for-profit businesses reach customers will help nonprofit organizations reach supporters. The biggest way that nonprofit organizations differ from traditional business models and e-commerce sites is that they are “selling” a cause, not a product or service.

Someone building a website for a nonprofit organization must keep three groups of people in mind:

Those needing service.

The core of all nonprofit organizations is the cause they want to support: those who need services offered. Some examples are cancer research, suicide prevention, helping the homeless, feeding the hungry, and pet rescue. We make services easy to get access to and as obvious as possible upon coming to any website. Our website for the Yavapai Humane Society includes a clearly labeled page under “Services for Your Pet” that tells people what to do if they have found a stray animal.

Volunteers.

When creating design and content for the site, we encourage the emotional benefits of volunteering, as well as the feeling of community and connection. Our own Chief Technology Officer, Collin Condray, has built websites for GiveCamp NWA, a weekend-long event pairs nonprofits in need of web solutions with volunteers from the technology sector. These nonprofit sites have clear information about who can volunteer, how they can are helping, and the difference they are making for these non-profit organizations.

Donors.

You might be surprised to know that fundraisers cannot be the main method of procuring funds for nonprofits. And that nonprofits cannot exist without administration and staff. The most effective and sustainable method for nonprofits to raise funds is to find others passionate about their cause and to build long-term relationships with them. Thus, when building nonprofit websites, we use design and content to engage people with the desire, resources, and influence to make a big difference.

Building high-quality websites for nonprofits means that as we do our jobs well, they can do theirs better. A good website opens the door for nonprofits to reach more volunteers, more funders, and hopefully to be able to help more of those in need. We have one more post about building nonprofit sites for you, and it’s highlighting some of our favorite nonprofits we’ve worked with, and what we’re doing to help them maximize their impact for good.

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