Your website is a tool.  It exists to further your ability to make an impact. Is it getting the job done?

You pour a lot of time, effort and resources into maintaining your nonprofit’s website. It should inform, entertain, engage and drive people to act—ultimately increasing support for your organization.

Are you seeing tangible returns on your investment? This is really the only question to ask when evaluating the effectiveness of your website.

No two nonprofits are the same. And, I would argue, the same could be said for nonprofit websites. There are, however, some characteristics that the best nonprofit websites seem to share.

A User-Friendly Site Structure

Effective nonprofit websites are organized with visitors in mind. What makes sense to your nonprofit’s team won’t always make sense to your visitors. The great websites take this into account in their structure, and organize themselves in a way user’s find easy to navigate.

A site organized in a way that’s intuitive and easy to navigate for visitors benefits your nonprofit far more than a site that only makes sense to you.

A Focus on Driving the Right People to the Site

Your target audience should always be top of mind. High site traffic is great, but if you’re mostly driving people not likely to take interest in your organization then it’s not really doing you much good.

Content plays a big role in getting the right people to your nonprofit’s website. Write content that meets their needs, answers their questions and appeals to their interests. Optimize it for search and promote it on social media. This is a surefire way to ensure your content will not only catch the eyes of the right people, but keep their interest as well.

Clear Calls to Action to Guide Visitors

A visitor searching your website for ways to take action and coming up with nothing should be every nonprofit’s worst nightmare.

Effective websites don’t leave interested people hanging. They tell visitors exactly how to engage with strategically-placed calls to action.

Creating and highlighting opportunities for visitors to take action is vital to increasing overall support. Everything from signing up for your newsletter to sharing a blog post on social media puts them on the path toward becoming a volunteer or donor one day. Make sure your website visitors know the options available to them.

Simple Forms and Processes

Showing people how they can engage is only part of it. Once you’ve shown them what to do, you need to make the action easy for them to complete. There’s nothing worse than clicking on a call to action only to find a confusing, overwhelming, extensive form on the other end of that click.

Effective websites make taking action easy.

Most people don’t want to share every bit of their personal information with your nonprofit, and probably won’t stick around to fill out a super long form. No matter if it’s a newsletter sign up or a donation form, go bare bones on the information you require. Don’t ask for information you aren’t going to use. Get ideas for simple forms to add to you site.

Utilizes Analytics

Knowing what’s working and what isn’t is key. A data-focused approach to your website will help you keep track of important metrics like who you’re catching, where you’re catching them and how long they’re sticking around.

It will also show you what actions people are taking on your site. Are they signing up for your newsletter? Are they commenting on a blog post? Are they sharing something they read with their friends on social media? These are all questions you need answers to in determining how well your website is doing its job.

Data doesn’t lie. Its insight is great for informing future website decisions and improving the overall effectiveness of your site.

Your nonprofit’s website is a huge investment of your time and resources. It needs to be effective. Focus on driving the right traffic, using explicit calls to action and making it easy to support your organization along with the other tips I mentioned, and you’ll be on your way.

What do you think makes a nonprofit website effective? Are there any points you’d add to our list? We’d love to hear from you.