Getting People Involved in Your Nonprofit’s Cause Online: The Good, The Bad and the Mediocre

Nonprofits have a habit of dropping the ball on their call-to-action landing pages. They think that once website visitors have clicked on “Donate,” “Volunteer,” “Support Us,” or “Get Involved” that they are already sold on getting involved. And that’s wrong.

Their clicks to these pages are just the beginning of the process. Your landing pages for these respective sections should sell just as hard (or harder) as to why they should get involved. In other words, don’t save all of your engaging content for your home page.

Include an eye-catching image, interesting headline, details on how this particular form of involvement helps and then the form. Most nonprofit websites I’ve visited (and I’m talking 80-90%) simply included their logo and then a generic form. That’s not finishing the sell strong.

Picture it like this. First, they Google your nonprofit—that’s them climbing up the stairs of your slide. They’re willing to do a little work (hopefully a relatively small amount to find your nonprofit). As they read your first few pages, they’re sitting on the top of the slide. They click “get involved” or something to that effect. At this point they are still sitting atop the slide. They need one final push of momentum before deciding to slide down and actually act. The content on these landing pages is that final push (or lack there of). If it’s not compelling enough, they may opt to turn around and climb back down the stairs of the slide (or in cyber terms, click the back button). Ouch. What a missed opportunity.

I believe that the best way to learn about which sites do it well and which could use work are from examples.

The following arts nonprofits have nice designs, engaging content and stronger than most calls-to-action on their landing pages which encourage involvement: (I used nonprofits within the same sector to better establish a comparable set of examples.)

1.    Chicago Artists Coalition

It’s a pretty basic design. Nothing too fancy (meaning it’s attainable for other nonprofits—whoo hoo!). But it works. Note the large image with interesting artwork that first grabs your attention. Then they answer a few FAQs right off the bat, tell you the benefits of becoming a member—and then they provide links to sign up.

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2.    California Arts Council

The California Arts Council uses a designed header to promote their latest endeavor. So not only are users getting updated information on what’s happening in this nonprofit, if interested, they can get involved or learn more directly from this page. The layout is easy to follow, the colors are attention-getting and the content is engaging. (And note, there is no form or paperwork required.)

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3.    Society of Singers

Society of Singers uses a classy, timeless color palette, prominently featuring one of their singers on their support page. Below in a gold box, you can read about the featured image and learn more about the singer, Stacy. And even further down, after explaining how the donations are used, they provide links for various donation amounts. While this page gets a little lengthy (lots of scrolling), the initial impact of their image and call-to-action makes up for it.

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Now, on to the examples that could use some work. Keep in mind, I’m pointing out the portions that need improvement in an attempt to show concrete examples on what works and what doesn’t. There are good components to all of these examples. And I acknowledge the fact that not all nonprofits can afford to update their websites as often as they would like. However, it’s important to realize that anymore, a website serves as a first impression.

1.    Coeur d’Alene Art Association
This first website simply looks dated. And what’s worse, it’s unclear where those looking to get involved should click. “Member?” “Events?” “Contact?” I’m still not exactly sure. After clicking on the Members bar, there’s an area to click on “Officers and Volunteers.” But after following that path, all viewers see is a list of those currently involved. And no call-to-action. If you want involvement from your community, it’s important to make a clear ask!

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2.    Octarium
This page offers an interesting solution—rather than having this landing page go directly to a Network for Good donation page, they’ve programmed a button. While I appreciate that the “How You Can Help” link takes you to an explanatory page, they missed an opportunity. Including a video of this group of eight singers performing, or a recorded ask explaining how donations help would’ve been much more impactful than a couple paragraphs of text.

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3.    Woman Made Gallery

I realize that many nonprofits use payment services to collect donations. And this is a valid option (especially to take the pressure off of handling donation collection). But consider hunting for a service that allows your organization to maintain your branding on the donation page. This page isn’t engaging. There isn’t any visual content, and page doesn’t give that needed final push of “here’s why you should donate.” Even though they have a couple sentences explaining, it’s not powerful enough—it doesn’t speak strongly enough to the mission and why this nonprofit makes a difference.

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It’s pretty easy to differentiate the good, the bad and the ugly. The good almost always finds a way to include just a bit more content on the pages asking for direct action (donate, volunteer, get involved, help us, etc.), and it pays off.

What other strategies does your organization use to “sell strong” on your engagement landing pages?


Kathryn Pauley

Kathryn is a regular contributor to the Nonprofit Hub. Soon to be college graduate, she enjoys helping nonprofits understand better how to reach the millennial demographic—cause we are living in a millennial world, and Kathryn's a millennial girl. With experience leading the largest student-run charity event on her campus, she looks forward to bringing her unique perspective to the Hub team every day.

December 5, 2014

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