Award-Winning Website Transformation for The Forbes Funds

Website redesign and cohesive brand messaging unlocks transformations for a regional nonprofit ecosystem in the Greater Pittsburgh region

In the first phase of working with The Forbes Funds, a supporting organization of The Pittsburgh Foundation (one of the top 15 community foundations in the US), the Key Medium team was tasked with redesigning a dated website to better serve over 500 nonprofit organizations and thousands of leaders in a ten-county region in the Pittsburgh area. The Key Medium team’s work expanded to include necessary cohesive brand messaging, ongoing web design improvement, website management, along with thought leadership content marketing, live event recruitment marketing, and recruiting participants for specific live events and learning cohorts.

  • Disseminating and creating information in an accessible manner to propel shared language and understanding (e.g., programs, resources and frameworks shared, and several months of content creation)
  • Increasing website usage and engagement across both the website and social media
  • Improving the customer experience, beginning to move from interaction-level to journey-level – towards the ultimate desire to have a more relationship-based experience
  • Bolstering technological maturity by providing an easy to use communications tool where each department has successfully launched their own pages and tools to support their work and keep it up to date
  • Building and enhancing relationships with partners (e.g., stakeholders, press, subject matter experts and community leaders) and the team

The problem

The Forbes Funds wanted a new website and fresh mission messaging to connect the dots around the key purpose of “capacity building.” The website architecture needed to support a hefty amount of information and appeal to an identified half-dozen user types. Each of the website’s menus needed several sub-categories, and each of the pages was heavy with text. The text needed to be broken down into a seamless, easy-to-read-and-understand design, so that important text could be prioritized for users. The website’s goals were to drive greater brand awareness and increase membership/retention, increase program attendance, engage more prospective partners in working to transform the sector to maximize impact, enhance clarity and consistency in mission messaging, and optimize audience workflow (e.g., simple content hierarchies).

The solutions

Key Medium helped identify The Forbes Funds’ organizational values, refined the brand identity to increase accessibility, strengthened brand awareness with clear and concise mission messaging and website content creation, and a new user-friendly website design. The new design and messaging maximized impact through a custom information architecture given the broad nature of the organization’s mission.

The Forbes Funds website redesign shows desktop, tablet, and mobile-first website for philanthropic nonprofit organization website

Key Medium co-designed The Forbes Funds’ website to provide better access to resources and support to nonprofit professionals and executives. After interviewing a dozen stakeholders of various user typologies, we proceeded with a series of design thinking workshops. We developed an accessible, award-winning digital experience, with an improved brand featuring cohesive messaging and clearly identified values.

During our market and user research, we conducted a dozen stakeholder interviews, and implemented design thinking workshops to refine the site’s offerings and prioritize information. The workshops found out what information users most wanted to find quickly, which is why the various programs and offerings are chunked in a digestible manner on the home page, in addition to a ‘start your journey’ page highlighting all of the innovation opportunities available. Here’s an excerpt from our User Insights report:

"Too many hoops to access money. I can't dance to your music." says a new grassroots leader who needs accessible grants and opportunities.

Via fine-tuning the entire website’s copy, we strengthened the messaging and created a design tailored towards their action-oriented goals. The organization wanted to be presented as collaborative, equitable, inclusive, and we delivered. The website depicts vivid images of leaders and partners in the area and users find the information easy to understand, especially as the entire site’s design is adapted for mobile use, meaning on-the-go users can easily access the site’s vital information when out of the office engaging in community work.

The new site structure highlights key historical information we dug up from books from the Reagan era, highlights the organization’s mission, vision, and values, and showcases a simple pathway to getting started with relevant innovation opportunities. We have easier to find menus for the new action center, identified key policy issue areas for advocates, and encouraged membership as well as learning program attendance.

The homepage’s above the fold messaging now exemplifies who the organization is for and immediately proceeds to offer a way to access critical information on the next upcoming event or program with a countdown, followed by chunks of information further detailing ways to get the necessary information to unlock capacity-building supports and resources. 

As users scroll, they can see 

  • upcoming collaborative grant offerings
  • nonprofit resources and toolkits
  • advocacy opportunities
  • leader stories
  • opportunities for learning programs and cohorts
  • connection to funding
  • connection to vetted consultant partners
  • connection to members in the associated member directory
  • fiscal sponsorship opportunities
  • and more

We also enabled enhanced eCommerce analytics and developed an interactive dashboard that gave near real-time insight into the ongoing success of their membership and program growth efforts.

Immediately following the launch of the website, we provided value-added services to create content and support the launch of new programs and initiatives on social media–primarily with LinkedIn thought leadership content and direct outreach marketing support services.

While Key Medium created a performance dashboard inclusive of survey responses from Needs Assessments, we went one step further and connected The Forbes Funds with our trusted data science partner, Boxplot Analytics. This led to the creation of a sophisticated Community Impact Dashboard layered with various data sets (e.g., first-party data and Census data), along with various other community dashboards.

Our work continues to this day, mainly in order to ensure continued website functionality and success online.

The results

In a full year following our co-created redesign of the website (Feb 6, 2021, to Feb 6, 2022) and associated brand messaging, we realized: 

  • an over 29% lift in users
  • over a 24% lift in page views
  • more than a 13% increase in average session duration
  • nearly a 35% lift in overall sessions
  • an over 31% jump in average search engine position ranking
  • an over 66% increase in search engine clicks
  • a nearly 37% increase in click-through-rate from search engines
  • over 630% increase in website traffic from social media (especially LinkedIn)
  • Six figures of funding raised directly through the platform

Conversions on the website (e.g. document downloads, lead form submissions) assisted in meeting business outcomes. Thought leadership marketing content marketing assisted in the growing ecosystem in line with business goals:

  • Clarity in The Forbes Funds services holistically, eliminating confusion around what The Forbes Funds is and what they do
  • Increase in leads generated for partnership development and live virtual event recruitment, including hundreds of conference participants confirming attendance
  • Increased stakeholder and prospective partner interest, including five-figure sponsorships directly garnered through our outreach support
  • Increased awareness and interest in The Forbes Funds’ mission work, associated core programs, and in new programs, aiding in the successful launch of new initiatives and offerings
  • Increased awareness and accessibility of digital tools for staff, leading to decreased staff burden with direct 1:1 outreach accessible via personalized lead generation forms
  • Programs supported with consistent messaging and clearly defined values following a set of design thinking workshops led by the Key Medium team
  • The Forbes Funds staff was provided content management training to easily keep content fresh and relevant
  • Staff gained access to a Help Desk and self-service Knowledge Base that resolved dozens of issues and improvement requests
  • Advanced social justice and racial equity efforts by recruiting several participants, serving as a bridge between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh through the inaugural International Institutional Anti-Racism Wireframe Cohorts


We won the internationally-acclaimed 2021 Communicator Award of Distinction from the Academy of Interactive & Visual Arts, in the Websites > General-Homepage category along with a 2021 W3 Award in General-Nonprofit Websites.