It is critical to the very survival of purpose-driven organizations to meaningfully engage potential donors and constituents, but many purpose-driven organizations find themselves lacking adequate resources to do so. They may be dedicating a large portion of the budget to actual programs and initiatives, with a little left over for marketing and communications efforts. Still, investing in marketing and communications is traditionally an upfront investment that can pay off in the long run for not-for-profit organizations, as it allows them to foster a dedicated audience, and eventually drive members of that audience to donate, make a purchase, or take another action that will allow the organization to advance the mission further.
That being said, there is a difference between knowing that investing in marketing and communications is important, and knowing where exactly to allocate the dollars. More and more purpose-driven organizations are seeing the importance of building out a comprehensive marketing plan, including social media and email marketing. People are engaging a lot more with brands in general via social media, and purpose-driven organizations have taken steps to capitalize on that. In addition, email marketing has become a crucial component of engaging audiences and driving action.
Still, for a purpose-driven organization with limited resources and expertise, it is easy for certain aspects of marketing and communications to fall to the wayside, and one aspect that often gets deprioritized is design- specifically, web design.
Why Web Design Matters
Many purpose-driven organizations are viewing their websites as a sort of digital brochure, or a one-stop-shop to quickly find out what the organization does, and how to get involved or donate. Of course, this information is important, but when organizations opt to only do the bare minimum when it comes to web design, they are missing an opportunity to deeply engage the audience and drive meaningful action.
For many people, visiting a purpose-driven organization’s website is really the first impression that they get of the organization, and first impressions actually matter a lot. Website visitors decide within seconds whether or not they will stay on the site or click out, and for nonprofits, in particular, 65% of donors go to an organization’s website before deciding to donate.
Beyond that, various parts of the website’s design can influence visitors’ thoughts and actions, such as whether or not they view the organization as credible, and whether or not they opt to donate or make a purchase. At best, an organization’s website can be a meaningful interactive experience that establishes an emotional connection with visitors and drives them to get involved in some way. At worst, it can make the organization seem lacking in legitimacy, turning visitors off for good.
A Worthwhile Investment
Many purpose-driven organizations today are still making do with websites that were created years ago, or websites that are simply failing to engage visitors and capture the essence of the work being done. This should be done through compelling storytelling and a delightful digital experience. Many of these sites remain this way because, as mentioned earlier, many purpose-driven organizations are strapped for resources and don’t have a lot of wiggle room in the budget to spend on things like web design.
Correction: Many purpose-driven organizations don’t think that investing money in web design is worthwhile.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, investing money in something like a site redesign requires an initial expenditure of money that may be difficult to chunk out of an already tight budget. But what a good site redesign does is build a solid foundation for all the other components of communication and engagement efforts of the organization, from social media to email and beyond. Effective web design bolsters all these efforts, ultimately driving more donors and/or purchases, and providing a good long term ROI (Return on Investment, with a Return of Impact) on the initial cost.
Stay tuned as we take a deeper dive into the various elements of web design that purpose-driven organizations can optimize to drive impact.
Leah Bury is a Philadelphia-based marketeting manager and writer who is passionate about various social justice issues, to say the very least. She’s worked in a variety of organizations, from an education technology startup to a nonprofit venture philanthropy fund, and heads Coding For Causes where she is actively assisting in spreading equity and community education on a City-wide scale. She likes to hike, travel, read, and enjoys music festivals.