Beyond Donate: CTAs that Make Nonprofit Websites More Effective

Megan Donahue

You’re working hard to push as much traffic to your website as possible, in hopes that everyone who visits it will click that great big donate button at the top. But what about the potential donors who are on your website, but not quite ready to give? 

Without another call to action (CTA) you’ll lose these folks before they have a chance to get to know you. You need more than one CTA to engage more people, wherever they are in the donor engagement cycle. 

What Makes Good Nonprofit Websites?

A nonprofit’s website is the organization’s virtual home. It is where your community goes to learn more about your initiatives, volunteers sign up and donors give online

The best nonprofit websites give supporters all the information they need to make a decision about giving or becoming more involved with your organization. They’re easy to navigate and understand. They tell stories that inspire generosity, celebrate your community and put your donor at the center of all of it. From a nonprofit development perspective, a good nonprofit website is one that drives giving and engagement with your donors. 

At a minimum, make sure your nonprofit website has 4 major elements.

1. A clear statement of your mission and why it matters.

Whether it’s a paragraph on your home page, or an entire page devoted to your formal mission statement, the first thing you have to communicate is who you are and what you’re here to accomplish. 

2. An explanation of the work you do and how you do it.

Mission statements can get lofty, so go a step further to talk about how you’re approaching your mission. Explain your major programs and the impact they make. Tell stories of the people and situations that are improved by these programs.

3. A way for donors to easily give online.

Your website should provide a simple and straightforward way for donors to make a donation. Ideally, your website donation form should be embedded on your website instead of taking people to a third-party site and feed directly into your CRM, so you’re not constantly dealing with data. 

4. Mobile-capability

These days, with more than half of total Internet traffic coming from mobile devices, it’s necessary for your nonprofit website to work on a mobile device. Luckily, virtually all web developers, as well as many DIY templates, make your site mobile-friendly as a matter of course. 

You could theoretically meet these minimum requirements with a one-page site with a donate button. But, that would likely only capture the attention of one type of potential donor. If you’re trying to convert most of your traffic into donors, you need more. The more you develop your website, the more opportunities you have to share your story, and engage your donors’ interest and generosity. 

Give Your Donor An Experience

Even if your nonprofit website is very simple, you can engage your current and potential donors  with storytelling. You don’t need interactive animation or the latest and greatest web design trends to tell your story. 

Photos, text, and videos can all take your donors on a journey. Your nonprofit website is a place to dive into what you do and who you help. Show the impact of your programs, the changes you’re trying to make in the world, and how you got to where you are now. 

Showing your donors more than one part of your story gives them more reasons to give. 

Invite Them to Commit In Other Ways

What do you want donors to do after they’ve given? What’s the next action they can take to engage further? As you think about it, also consider the people who aren’t donors, yet. If someone is on your website, but not ready to make a donation, what else can you offer them? 

Adding another CTA after the first one is complete keeps the relationship going, and keeps people on your nonprofit website longer. It can engage donors and non-donors alike in making more of a commitment to your organization.

Give people options to commit to you, like:

  • Sign up for a volunteer orientation
  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Take this awareness quiz
  • Watch this video

The engagement options you offer should cover all parts of the donor journey. Everyone, from people who just want to know who you are to those who want to advocate on your behalf, should have a conversion point. 

Signing up to volunteer is a big commitment, but perfect for someone who has more time to give than money. Subscribing to a newsletter or watching a video is almost commitment-free, ideal for someone who is just starting to learn about your organization. Without options, you’re turning the traffic generated by your marketing efforts away. You’re keeping your donor base smaller than it could be.

Use Your Nonprofit Websites to Learn More About Donor Interests

Nonprofit websites aren’t only a place for donors to learn about your organization. You can learn about them, too. You can use your website to collect information from donors about their interests, both by explicitly asking and by observing trends in your website analytics.

Your nonprofit website is a good place to host online surveys and other information-gathering devices. You can also track how they use your website. Where do they click? How long do they spend on a page? Are they going straight from your video to the donation page? Do they spend 2 minutes reading about a specific program and then give? Where does your web traffic come from? 

As you look at donor behavior on your nonprofit website, patterns will begin to emerge. You can see what your donors most prioritize, and give them more of those things. You can also start to identify where they may have knowledge gaps about your organization. If everyone spends time on one program page above all the others, you might need to start featuring those other programs more. 

Example CTAs for Nonprofit Websites

CTAs can drive engagement in your mission, programs, and marketing. Look at these examples to see how adding them to your nonprofit website can increase its impact. 

Subscribe to Our…Other Content Marketing Streams

Your audience engaged with you in one content marketing stream to arrive on your website, so use that as an opportunity to encourage them to try another one. If you regularly publish video content on YouTube, or have a good library of content there, encourage subscriptions. If you’re active on Facebook, make “liking” and “following” a CTA. You can even push your print media content with a CTA. 

The value in expanding your audience to multiple content streams is that you increase the number of “touches” (interactions with marketing) they experience in an organic way. It gives you more opportunities to share marketing and fundraising materials with them, making it more likely you’ll stay top of mind.

Promoting your other content marketing streams on your website helps you get more value out of each one, by bringing new audiences to the content. It also allows you to appeal to different people with different kinds of storytelling. If your website engages with text, point people towards your Instagram for photos. If you focus on video storytelling, send the readers over to your blog. 

Sample CTAs For Content Marketing Streams:

  • Subscribe to our YouTube Channel
  • Sign up for the newsletter
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Follow us on Instagram
  • Read our blog for the inside story

Meet Others In Your Area

The action you want your supporters to take doesn’t have to be online. You can add a CTA calling for real-life involvement, too. If you have community events, volunteer opportunities, or small group activities, put out the call to get involved. Your CTA can lead to a signup form, a calendar with events with an RSVP button or a list of volunteer options with instructions to get started. 

Offering in-person opportunities is essential for nonprofit websites—it may be what brought someone to your website in the first place. After all, many people are interested in nonprofits because they care about the cause and want to be more involved in a community. They’re hoping to meet other people who share their interests and spend time making a difference together. 

In addition to the obvious benefits of more volunteers and more people attending events, there’s another advantage to pointing people towards in-person opportunities: giving. Volunteers are almost twice as likely as non-volunteers to give, and 73% of people surveyed said they were more likely to give after attending an event. 

Sample CTAs for In-Person Involvement:

  • Sign Up For Your Volunteer Orientation
  • Join Our Book Club
  • Meet Your Neighbors
  • RSVP 

Tell Us More 

Do you ask your supporters for their opinions? If not, you might be missing out on an opportunity to engage them, as well as the wisdom they may share.

Surveys allow you to ask your supporters specific questions, as well as providing them with space to give their own responses or share what they think is important. You can ask about their donation experience, their reaction to your marketing materials, or why they care about the cause. Surveys can help you discover who your supporters are and what matters most to them. 

When you invite supporters to complete a survey, you’re showing them that you care about what they think and are ready to listen, opening the opportunity for a two-way relationship. 

Surveys aren’t the only way to solicit an opinion. Consider other feedback options like online voting and polls to invite participation in decision-making. Supporters can vote on marketing tools like a new logo, or program-related decisions, like what to name your newest therapy dog. You can even ask for votes on program initiatives, like where to open your next branch or which holidays to add to your soup kitchen’s calendar. 

Sample CTAs for giving opinions include:

  • Tell us more!
  • Share your thoughts!
  • Take our survey!
  • Vote now!

Take Action Now

Even the simplest website can deliver more results with CTAs. Call your supporters to action, and enjoy a more engaged community. To learn more about what makes a good nonprofit website, check out our podcast episode featuring nonprofit website expert Adam Walker.

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