There are a lot of general best practices when it comes to writing great website content. You’ve probably heard a bunch of them before. Use short sentences. Use headings with targeted keywords. Use lists whenever possible. Drop the jargon. Write how you speak.
These are all generally beneficial when talking about content for nonprofit websites as well. But there are a few additional tips, aimed specifically at nonprofits, that can help make your web content stand out.
Illustrate Your Impact with First-Person Accounts
As a nonprofit, it’s really important for you to show the impact you’re having in the community you serve. Utilizing first-person accounts can be a great way to do so.
Instead of always filtering the experience of your community through your own lens, let them tell their own story directly. Use photos. Even better, use videos. Or ask members of the community to write about their life and relationship with your nonprofit.
Stories are compelling. Rely on the stories of those in your community.
Give Multiple, Specific Ways to Get Involved
You never know how ready a website visitor will be to engage with your nonprofit. Maybe this is the first time they’ve heard of your organization. Or maybe they’ve been following you for years and are ready to become a donor.
By giving multiple ways for a visitor to get involved, you can meet them wherever they’re at.
Here are a few ways to allow visitors to engage with your nonprofit:
- Give a donation
- Sign up for your newsletter
- Follow your nonprofit on social media
- Share your content with a friend
- Sign up to volunteer
- Ask for more information about an upcoming event
- Fill out your contact form
This list is not at all exhaustive, but hopefully provides a solid starting point.
Be Transparent and Build Trust
Building trust is key. When an individual trusts your nonprofit, it stands to reason they’re much more likely to believe giving you money, time or other resources is a good idea.
You can use your website content to build trust in a variety of ways:
- Outline Donation Usage – Tell donors specifically how their donations will be used.
- Show Donation Usage – Show donors how their donations were ultimately used. And since we’re talking about building trust, this usage should match what you outlined in the previous step.
- Honestly Represent Volunteer Opportunities – If your volunteers are going to be cleaning or landscaping, that’s fine. It’s important work. But explain to potential volunteers why it’s important and be honest about what they can expect. If a volunteer expects to be playing with kids and ends up cleaning bathrooms, there’s a good chance they won’t be signing up to volunteer again anytime soon.
- Share Your Financials – Financial information may not matter to some website visitors. But it certainly will to others. Make it easy to find for those that care to look.
A little trust goes a long way when trying to turn website visitors into active supporters.
Clearly State the Problem
Most nonprofits are aimed at addressing some sort of problem. Make it easy for visitors to articulate what that problem is all about.
It’s tough to support a cause we don’t really understand. Making the cause concrete is the first step to connecting your visitor to the work you’re doing.
And once it’s clear, use emotion to build this connection even further.
Establish Your Authority
I’d bet you know a fair amount about the cause you’ve dedicated yourself to supporting. Showcase this knowledge throughout your website content. Present your nonprofit as a strong solution to the problem you’ve clearly outlined. Show you grasp the intricacies of the situation and have thought of the best ways to address it.
You can establish authority in a bunch of ways, including:
- Providing useful resources for those interested in your cause
- Posting detailed blog posts
- Publishing articles about your cause to respected external sources
- Showcasing awards your nonprofit has received
- Sharing testimonials from relevant folks
- Outlining past successes
Boosting your nonprofit’s authority will give increased weight to your words and ultimately help you cut through the clutter of content swimming across the web.
Finally, once you’ve established there’s a problem and set yourself up as an authority in addressing it, inspire your visitors. Show them that there’s hope. That the problem may be vast, but every small step in addressing it matters. That they can be a part of the solution in whatever way feels right to them. A visitor that shares on Twitter today could blossom into a champion of your cause or major donor down the road.
Make every action matter. And make sure, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that your visitors know you value each and every action they take.
Website content for nonprofit websites truly matters. Better website content means more traffic to your website. It means more interest in your organization. It means more donors, volunteers and supporters of your cause. And, ultimately, it means you can do more good in the world.
I’d love to hear from you about your own experience with website content. Any tips you’d like to add? Or anything you found particularly useful in writing your own website content?