It’s easy to get caught up thinking about the day-to-day and future of your nonprofit. There are plenty of things yet to do! But what about your nonprofit’s past? Taking the time to make a web page about your nonprofit’s history can highlight the visionaries and milestones that make your work possible plus inspire new people to make their own contributions.
For most nonprofits, a history page lives somewhere in the About or Who We Are section of their website. While history content can be combined with mission and vision statements, you don’t want to limit yourself by trying to crowd too much information (or just a few highlights) on one page. We’ll show you how to put together an engaging and action-oriented history page for your website with content ideas, writing prompts, formatting tips and examples from real nonprofits.
Best Practices for History Content
We usually see history pages go one of two directions: a wall of text that’s hard to scan or a laundry list of dates without context. In either case, a visitor isn’t likely to spend a lot of energy figuring out what they are supposed to learn and take away from your content. To avoid the glazed over look, try out these best practices and tips to make your page more engaging.
Tell A Story
Think about the core message that you want to convey by describing your nonprofit’s founding and early days. If you have a compelling story that demonstrates this theme or angle, now’s the time to tell it! Even if you’re a relatively young nonprofit, there are plenty of stories to tell.
Don’t let your page be a dead end destination. Be sure to work in links to related pages on your website to help people continue their journey through your content. For example, your history page will likely tie in naturally to content on your impact page or programs page.
Offer Highlights & Visuals
If your default writing style tends to be long sentences that make up long paragraphs, this is a great page to practice mixing things up. Use the formatting tips below to help restructure the look of your text, and then find a few milestones that you can pull out and feature by using a quote, photos, video or other visual elements.
Share The Spotlight
One of the main audiences for a history page is likely to be people who were a part of it. Make them feel special by featuring early partners, founding board members, volunteers or long-time donors and some of their specific contributions.
Ask for Something
One of the more practical uses of a history page is that it gives you the perfect place to talk about the future of your nonprofit. Invite people to get involved and make a bigger difference in the years to come by including a strong call-to-action. If you have an anniversary campaign, make sure to feature it here as well.
History Page Prompts
Need a little boost to get started? Or do you need to turn your simple nonprofit history timeline into something more? Beat writer’s block with the following prompts. And if you’re not sure how to fill in the blanks, try interviewing another staff person or board member to get more of the inside scoop.
- Throughout our history, we’ve worked toward a single purpose: __________.
- Our organization got its start when our founder realized that we could better serve __________ by doing __________.
- For more than ____ years, our organization has seen __________.
- When we were founded in ____ , we had no idea that __________.
- Over the years, the one thing that’s always stayed the same is __________.
- Each year has been an opportunity to __________.
- Since our founding, the unwavering dedication of __________ helped our mission come to life.
- We wouldn’t be who we are today without ____ key milestones that shaped our programs and services.
Page Formatting Tips
As you draft or rework your nonprofit’s history content, think about your options for formatting and styling the information on your website. We offer a lot of tips in our Beginner’s Guide to Nonprofit Website Content, but here’s a quick list to get you started:
- For multiple paragraphs of text, break things up and make the page more scannable using descriptive headings. You’ll see some examples below!
- Use bullet points to offer easy-to-read lists
- Add photos, video or even audio to add more emotion to the page
- Bring in other voices to help share your history, like a testimonial from an early participant.
- For a long history of important milestones, consider using anchor or jump links to help people quickly navigate the page.
History Page Examples
You don’t need fancy programming and designs to create effective web page content. Check out these real and achievable examples of history pages from around the web.
The OperaWorks History page breaks up the organization’s history into several phases along with a vintage program photo and lots of internal links to related pages.
Special Olympics New Jersey
The History page for Special Olympics New Jersey describes the early days of the Special Olympics movement and ties into the organization’s 50th anniversary with a video and calls to action.
National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation’s Mission and History page offers a ton of information with a wide range of content types, including historic images, featured quotes and lots of links to related pages and programs.
The Easterseals History page shares their history in a number of stages that guide visitors to learn how the organization works today. The page ends with a strong call to action and related resources.
The Lifeworks History page breaks up their history into small chunks, first by decade and then by milestone years. It’s a nice way to include a lot of detail while still making it easy for visitors to scan.
Airy (Demo Site)
As shown on our demonstration site, the Nature Knowledge History page combines the founder’s story with progress over the years, including a link to the Impact page and calls-to-action.
No matter how old or young your nonprofit is, offering a history page on your site is an opportunity to give context to your mission and celebrate important milestones.
Do you have a history page on your nonprofit website that you’d like to share? Or what’s kept you from sharing your organization’s history in your marketing efforts? See you in the comments!