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Have you ever landed on a nonprofit site that was so confusing you didn’t know where to go next, what to do, or what the page was even about?
Don’t let that be your organization’s landing page! Avoid this by learning basic nonprofit landing page best practices and tips.
Well-designed nonprofit landing pages can help widen your organization’s reach, acquire more donors, recruit more volunteers, and attract the right partners, to name just a few benefits.
Many nonprofit organizations around the world focus on acquiring website traffic, or in other words, on leading people to their websites. This is undoubtedly important, but by focusing only on that they are leaving donations on the table. For best fundraising results, there need to be sufficient resources dedicated to effectively converting website traffic.
By the end of this article, you will better understand how to effectively convert website traffic and optimize your nonprofit landing page.
What are landing pages?
Simply put, a landing page is the first page a website visitor lands on. Ideally, this landing page is working toward a conversion goal (e.g. donation or event sign up). There are different types of landing pages (e.g. dedicated donation landing pages, microsites, the home page, product pages, event pages, and more).
Here are some examples:
1. Primary/main site
The primary site contains all the information about your nonprofit. It contains the typical navigation, usually a hero section with a call to action, program categories, testimonials, etc. This is the main website that promotes all that your nonprofit does in the entire range and scope of your activities.
A microsite is a truncated, modified version of the main site. It focuses on a limited scope of your services. There’s usually a specific call to action and a specific program or service which is highlighted. The goal of a microsite is to more narrowly funnel users, with a greater emphasis on one specific conversion action.
3. Dedicated landing page
The defining characteristic of a landing page is that there’s no navigation. It also features a call to action. This call to action might be a newsletter sign-up or a donation button, but there’s usually one conversion action. Dedicated landing pages typically do not have secondary or supporting conversion actions.
If you’re a nonprofit professional working in marketing, you have probably asked yourself at least once which type of nonprofit landing page you should go for.
There's no single correct answer. The right decision will depend on the goal of your marketing campaign. Your goal will determine the right type of landing page for your nonprofit.
Think about the definitions of main sites, microsites, dedicated landing pages, and their different characteristics. Then, decide which type of landing page you feel is the best choice for your marketing campaign.
For example, leading your visitors to your main page might be the best option if you’re simply trying to get your audience to get familiarized with your work. A microsite might be best if you’re looking to promote a specific program and want to invite your audience to engage in several different ways using several CTAs. A dedicated nonprofit landing page is likely the best option if you’re looking to get your audience to complete a very specific action, such as donating.
What are conversions?
A conversion is a meaningful action that has some sort of value to you, such as a donation, an event sign-up, a survey submission, and more.
A conversion is something which is measurable, something which has a clear value that could be attached to it. It’s some sort of important action, and it’s often a revenue-generating activity.
When we talk about optimizing your nonprofit landing page, we essentially talk about increasing the conversion rates. We’re looking to get those website visitors converting into event attendees, donors, and volunteers.
When thinking about conversions, it’s important to remember that it’s impossible that all website visitors end up converting. The maximum conversion rate is going to be well below 100%, and that’s completely normal.
To simplify, you can think of your website visitors as belonging to one of three categories:
- The “Definitely No”: These are the visitors that will not convert no matter how well designed your landing page is. They are just browsing. They could be on your website for any number of reasons, for example doing research for a school paper. These are the visitors that were never intending to complete an action in the first place.
- The “Definitely Yes”: These are the visitors that will convert no matter how frustrating the experience of your site is because they’re highly committed to your products and services. These are often long-standing donors who are highly invested in your cause.
- The “Maybe”: These are the visitors that are looking to engage with your cause but are not committed yet to a specific organization. This is where most work with nonprofit landing page optimization can be done. These are the visitors that can go either way, they’re on the fence.
Essential Page Elements of Great Nonprofit Landing Pages
Essential structural elements of great nonprofit landing pages are the headline, the subheadline, the main body of text, and the call to action. Some would also include images or videos in this list, but landing pages can be effective without them.
1. Headlines and subheadlines
Headlines should be clear and concise. They demonstrate how you solve a problem or highlight exactly what you’re doing.
The headline should also be compelling and grab the attention of website visitors. There needs to be enough attention to the headline on the landing page. It shouldn’t get lost in the design of the page.
Here’s how ASPCA did it:
Use headings to group similar items and themes. Create different visual styles for different groups of related items and topics. Put similar elements in clearly defined containers on your site.
Headings give organization and structure to your page and create obvious visual distinction.
▸ Stay consistent. Each heading level throughout the site should indicate a consistent level in the importance scale.
▸ Don’t float your headings. They should be closer to the text that comes after and further away from the text before it.
2. The main body of text
Unlike corporations, you’re not writing website copy to address customers’ pain points. You’re using the main body of text to get people to feel. After all, donating is a very emotional act.
Use the main body of text to tell compelling stories and also give your website visitors enough information about what's going to happen, what they should expect after completing a conversion action.
- Share a story of a single beneficiary in a few sentences. Use their real name and photo (with permission).
- Offer minimum needed background/context information.
- Communicate the impact the donations will have.
- You can also share social proof, testimonials, and infographics.
In your main body of text, try to answer questions such as:
▸ Once I submit the form, what will happen?
▸ Once I donate, what will happen?
▸ What should I expect once I sign up for the list?
▸ What is going to be the impact of my donation?
▸ What are the features/benefits of the event/volunteering program/raffle?
This is the place on your site where you can address any objections your website visitors might have, any questions that might exist in their minds. Write out a list of objections and questions that your visitor could have and make sure your landing page addresses each one.
When writing your page copy, it’s important to remember that people glance and scan, not read, especially early on in the funnel when they’re not very committed to your organization. This is why your copy needs to be clear and easily readable.
To accomplish this:
▸ Omit all unnecessary words.
▸ Be helpful. Format your text for scanning, not for reading.
▸ Use bullet points and bold your key terms.
▸ Use visual cues to organize thematically related text elements.
▸ Use the inverted pyramid structure to put the important things on top.
▸ Avoid jargon. Be factual and objective.
▸ Keep the information to a minimum, especially when you’re trying to funnel visitors.
Here’s an exercise you can do to improve the brevity and readability of your nonprofit landing page:
Copy-paste all the text from your nonprofit landing page and then rewrite it using half the amount of words. Then check after you have reread it if you are still able to convey the same message with half the amount of words. Most likely, you will be able to. Brevity matters with dedicated landing pages.
3. CTA (call-to-action)
Everything on a landing page is there to drive people to click on the call-to-action button.
Your website visitor has to be able to answer very clearly: What am I supposed to be doing on this page?
The call to action should be clear, above the fold, and the user should not have to look for it.
There are many different conversion actions for nonprofits.
Arguably, “donating” is one of the most popular. No nonprofit can keep its doors open without donations.
However, as there is money involved, this action requires a high level of trust and commitment.
Then, there are lead-gen conversion actions, such as submitting a form or downloading an annual report, a case study, or an e-book.
It’s important to know that it takes less to convert a lead-gen visitor than a donor prospect.
Regardless of what type of conversion action you’re aiming for, try for your site to have only one primary conversion action.
▸ Give a lot of visual prominence to the (primary) CTA.
▸ Don't use the word “submit” for form submission.
▸ Personalize the CTA. This helps set visitors’ expectations.
▸ Give the user a very clear understanding of what's going to happen after they click the button. Will they receive a donation receipt? Will they be redirected to a Google Drive for a link to their e-book? Will they receive a personalized video from the founder?
▸ Make it easy for your website visitors to contact you should they need to or want to.
Note: If the main goal of your landing page is to raise awareness, the likelihood that your visitors are going to donate goes down. Different conversion actions are mutually exclusive. When one goes up, the other one goes down.
Main Characteristics of Effective Nonprofit Landing Pages - Tips and Best Practices
Isaac Rudansky recommends every website page to be useful, learnable, memorable, effective, efficient, desirable, and delightful. These are the defining characteristics of great websites.
Here are 5 things you can do to make your nonprofit landing page convert better:
1. Prioritize Clarity Above All
Clarity can’t be emphasized enough when it comes to designing great nonprofit landing pages. Yet, it’s where so many nonprofits make mistakes.
For example, it’s become very popular to have background images or videos on landing pages. These can sometimes make the text hard to read.
And while creativity is highly encouraged and visuals matter, these shouldn’t come at the expense of clarity.
The more beautiful or visually appealing your site is doesn't necessarily mean it will be more usable and more clear. There needs to be the right balance between creativity and visual appeal on one side, and clarity, precision, and readability on the other.
You live and breathe your nonprofit. Therefore, you might not be the best judge of how clear your landing page is.
The founder of Adventure Media Group, a Long Island-based digital agency, suggests running “the 5 seconds test” to gauge the clarity of your nonprofit landing page.
Screenshot your landing page and remove all branding (e.g. logo and nonprofit name). Show this screenshot to people who have never heard of your nonprofit and have them look at it for 5 seconds.
- What does this organization do?
- What is their main value proposition?
- What do they want you to do? (if you’re showing a dedicated landing page)
- What are the benefits, the emotional and psychological payoffs of engaging with this organization or signing up for the event/donating/becoming a volunteer? (depending on the purpose of your landing page)
Check out https://usabilityhub.com/ for some help with doing this exercise.
Here are other things you can do to make your nonprofit landing page more clear:
▸ Avoid naming elements of your site in ways that are too complex.
▸ Nothing on your nonprofit landing page should make your website visitors have to think extra. Everything should be immediately self-evident. Even the old lady down the street should be able to understand what you do and what you want her to do on the page.
▸ Completely avoid jargon and hyperbole. As a quick way to do this, try to remove 50 percent of the adjectives from your site.
▸ Use simple vocabulary and make your website copy eighth-grade reading level.
2. Have a Razor-Sharp Focus
Even if your nonprofit runs dozens of programs, your microsites and dedicated landing pages should each have a clear focus.
When designing an effective nonprofit landing page, the attention ratio matters.
You want to have as few distractions from your primary conversion action.
▸ Ideally, your attention ratio is one to one, meaning your conversion action has one click. In other words, there’s one thing a visitor could do on your landing page, one action they could take that would signify completing this conversion action.
▸ Have as few links as possible on the page that are not directly supporting the primary conversion action. If you’re looking to raise funds online, then the main (or only link) should be “donate” and there should be little to no other links on the page.
As you see your attention ratio getting closer to one-to-one, you're going to see your conversion rates increase. The more distractions that you have on a page, the more likely that person is to get distracted and the lower your statistical chance of the conversion action being completed.
▸ The important things on the page need to be distinguishable by color, size, weight, padding, and/or location on the page.
3. Create an Effective and Easy-to-Fill Form
Most nonprofit landing pages will inevitably be donation pages. Or they will in some way want to incite the visitor to give.
However streamlined and well-thought-out your landing page, conversion rates won’t increase if your donation form is clunky and overcomplicated.
It needs to be as easy as possible for people to fill out the donation form.
Make sure you only ask for essential information. The form should also be sleek and intuitive.
At GiveForms, we developed beautiful, intuitive, simple, and effective donation forms for nonprofit organizations of all sizes. Our donation forms will increase your conversion rates by inciting more visitors to complete the action of donating.
4. Make Sure Your Nonprofit Landing Page is Readable, Usable, and Effective
When people first arrive at a landing page, they’re not actually reading. Most people are busy and often bombarded with information. There are a lot of different organizations that they might be looking at. Instead of reading the text, they’re more likely to scan it.
This is why it’s essential to make sure your nonprofit landing page is readable.
▸ Create visual hierarchies. The inverted pyramid, one of the classic guiding principles for readability, emphasizes the importance of putting important things first. Place the most important things that you want your visitors to see at the top of the page.
▸ Practice turning short paragraphs into bulleted lists. Bulleted lists might feel less professional, but they convert better.
▸ Investigate eye-tracking studies. These show what people look at when they look at websites. Use those insights to improve your landing page.
▸ Stay consistent. For example, there are certain words that our eyes immediately go to, like “instant” or “sign up”. Essentially, your visitor’s eyes are going to focus on what their brains expect to see. For example, our brains are accustomed to seeing a donate button in the top right corner of the page. It’s, therefore, best that you place it there too. Only break a convention when you are absolutely certain that your new way of doing it is better.
▸ Create a responsive landing page that displays well on any device. It’s important for users to be able to easily digest and get to all of your content, especially from a mobile device. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re going to be missing out on a lot of conversions.
Furthermore, to create an effective nonprofit landing page, tracking and measuring are essential.
For example, if your main goal is to raise funds you need to be tracking, at the very least, revenue coming in, the number of donors, and the average donation per donor.
You can also take this the extra mile and track the form fill rate. This metric is referring to the percentage of people who come to your site who actually complete the donation as opposed to the percentage of people who begin the donation form but never complete it.
5. Incorporate Compelling and Impactful Visuals
The right use of imagery and graphics can spell the difference between users staying and users leaving your nonprofit landing page.
Endless blocks of text never appealed to anyone. This is why incorporating impactful visuals into your nonprofit landing page is so important.
In addition to capturing attention and driving engagement, visuals help you communicate and get your point across effectively.
Visuals improve conversion rate when:
- They tell a story;
- They support the explanation of the program/service;
- They evoke emotion;
- They help clarify a confusing concept;
- They are high quality, original and give your site a professional look.
Images decrease conversion rate when:
- They make text harder to read;
- Itʼs unclear what the image is;
- They are not inline with the brand aesthetic and messaging;
- They look like typical stock photography;
- There are too many of them.
Therefore, for imagery to be impactful, several best practices need to be followed:
▸ Use photos of real beneficiaries, humans, or animals (or forests)!
▸ Make sure the photography and videography don’t make the text harder to read.
▸ Use infographics to visualize key statistics (do this sparingly especially on dedicated landing pages).
▸ Use icons and illustrations to outline the impact of donating (see the image below).
▸ Use interactive visual content such as maps or calculators carefully.
Quick High-Converting Nonprofit Landing Page Checklist
Look at your nonprofit landing page and check:
- Is it clear what your organization is doing?
- Is the impact you’re creating clear?
- Is there a clear call to action? Are you making it clear what you want the website visitor to do?
- Does it answer the questions your visitors have? Does it provide the information that they're looking for?
- Is the text easy to understand and scannable?
- Are the conversions measurable?
- Is your page easy to use?
- Is it self-explanatory?
- Is it easy to donate/sign up/download?
- Can your website visitors navigate through your website without any additional instructions?
- Are the visuals distracting from or adding to the effectiveness of the page?
Get Your Nonprofit Landing Page to Perform
There are more and more barriers that keep donors from giving. Your nonprofit landing page shouldn’t be one of them.
The landing page should help you achieve your nonprofit goals and nurture website visitors into long-lasting, engaged supporters.
Implement these nonprofit landing page best practices, get converting, and make more impact than ever before!
GiveForms can take over at this stage and help you raise funds by letting you seamlessly accept these donations online. Your supporters can donate using a credit card, PayPal, Google Pay, or bank transfers. With a focus on intuitive, human-centered design, GiveForms goal is to help you increase your online donations.
When you use GiveForms, you gain access to a plethora of nonprofit-specific benefits:
A customizable donation page optimized for mobile
Embeddable donation forms directly on your website
Donor dashboard to help you search, view and export your donations