It’s not easy standing out from the crowd online. This is true for corporate, as well as nonprofit websites. But there are best practices and key elements that all great nonprofit websites have in common. Let’s take a look:

Content takes center stage. This is one of the golden rules of a strong website presence. All 25 nonprofit websites featured on this post have unique and consistent content that is directed to their users. Their content revolves around their mission, the work they do, the clients they serve and the opportunities to get involved with their organizations. By the way, they do a great job at telling their story in terms of human impact.

Attractive design. Their website designs puts the “wow” factor in people’s mind. They create a great first impression–think Apple from a corporate perspective and The Nature Conservancy from a nonprofit perspective. Both websites are sleek, beautiful and professional-looking.

Mission and purpose are apparent right away. Within 5 seconds of visiting their sites, users can have a good understanding of the mission and work of these nonprofits.

Consistent Branding. The feel and look of the website is consistent with the organization’s marketing materials. These nonprofits have taken the time and effort to make sure that their logo, fonts, colors and tag lines are incorporated into their website design.

Meets the needs of donors. These nonprofits give people an easy, fast and secure way to donate online. Their web design features a prominent and compelling call to action (make a donation), and their donation process is painless (short and to the point).

Meets the needs of reporters. They make it easy for journalists, reporters and bloggers to find key information about their organizations. It is best practice is to have a virtual media kit available. What does a virtual media kit include? Essentially, it includes everything that a print media kit does: brief profiles and photos of key staff and board members, logo, pictures, financial and contact info.

Engages volunteers. None of the 25 best nonprofit websites underestimate the power of volunteers. They make sure that volunteer opportunities are visible on their homepage and easy to find throughout the website.

Meets readers’ needs They provide relevant content to their supporters. For example, The Michael J. Fox Foundation has the Living with Parkinson resource page. Educational guides, position papers and multimedia resources are just a few of the available resources.

Uses social media effectively. Engaging websites provide ways for visitors to interact with the site and with each other. They build community among users. Great websites make it easy for users to spread their content on social media sites (e.g, Facebook and Twitter) and invite users to join their online communities.

Uses SEO Strategies.These 25 nonprofits have the basics of search engine optimization down. They have compelling content, use keywords (in URLs, contents and links), provide a site map for readers and spiders, and make use of meta-tags (code-wise).

What Are They Doing Right?
Best Pracices at a Glance
  Relevant Content Attractive Design Consistent Branding Donor Friendly Volunteer Friendly Social Media Media Friendly SEO
American Diabetes Association RFI RFI
Boys & Girls Clubs of America RFI RFI RFI
Children’s Defense Fund RFI RFI RFI
GMHC RFI RFI
HIV Law Project RFI
Housing Works RFI
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
The Michael J. Fox Foundation RFI RFI RFI
Faith Based Nonprofits
Bread for the World
Save The Children RFI RFI RFI
Samaritan’s Purse RFI RFI
World Vision
Animal & Environmentally Friendly Nonprofits
ASPCA
Conservation International RFI RFI
Green Peace
National Trust for Historic Preservation RFI RFI
The Nature Conservancy RFI RFI RFI
World Wildlife Fund
Disaster Relief Nonprofits
Amnesty International RFI RFI RFI
Care RFI RFI RFI
charity: water
International Rescue Committee RFI RFI
Oxfam
International
RFI RFI
Red Cross
Feeding America RFI RFI
RFI= Room for Improvement

 

Many other nonprofits may make use of these key elements of web design. If you think your nonprofit should be added to this list, please give me a shout.