Serving Different Interests With Nonprofit Web Design
The Red Cross is not Walmart. The United Methodist Ministries is not General Motors. In short, nonprofits are not the same as “for profit” businesses, yet they need to compete in the same cyberspace called the internet with these behemoths for the attention of prospective benefactors and to get the message out to potential recipients for their services as well. This fact is why a wide variety of web development firms have worked diligently over the last number of years to vastly improve their offerings related to nonprofit web design. Web design, as it turns out, is not a one size fits all solution, at least when it comes to serving nonprofits.
Although there are many similarities when comparing an effective website design for a commercial application with nonprofit web design, some of the more subtle differences are:
- Nonprofits are often far more interested in attraction rather than promotion
- Nonprofits do not “sell” services, they provide them
- The success of a nonprofit is determined by the percentage of its funds that get into the hands of the service providers that ultimately serve those in need, not some corporate bottom line objective
- The dissemination of “free” information is paramount for nonprofit web design
Websites traditionally designed to support “commerce” on the internet have long been the staple offering. Hawking products or services, descriptive information is provided, yes, but it is done so with a different intent than one requires for a true nonprofit environment. Designed around pricing, product description, inventory levels, shipping, discounts, order processing, and revenue capturing, traditional “for profit” websites have a vast array of modules supported within the website that are totally superfluous for the needs of a solid nonprofit web design. Put in other terms, a nonprofit organization that specializes in helping indigent people obtain resources such as food, medical assistance, or perhaps providing transportation to a new job has little use for a website design that is focused on supporting inventory, shipping, discounts, special sales incentives, and the like.
Enlightened web developers have finally come around to branching out into developing website designs and templates that are made specifically with nonprofits in mind. Keys to effective nonprofit web design have a different central focus:
- Information is King – quick & easy access to germane information that will connect the website visitor with a solution or a service provider is key
- Networking is a huge factor for nonprofits with many of these charitable organizations needing to be inextricably linked in order to provide a complete package of care or effective level of assistance
- The ability to accept donations is a similar requirement to completing a sale, but presenting the nonprofits mission is far more critical than promoting a particular product.
Nonprofit web design is making great strides towards helping nonprofits eliminate many of the avoidable costs that drain their ability to put more funding into providing services. Websites are powerful tools that can allow information to be accessed easily and effectively while freeing up valuable human resources to perform more vital functions. Kudos to all of the people that are working diligently to improve website designs for nonprofits!