We're back with our 2017 favorite examples (in alphabetical order) of what a great non-profit website looks like and what makes it stand out. Our hope is that by emulating these exemplary non-profits, you'll soon be able to provide an even greater user experience for your own site visitors—generating all the support you need!
acumen.org: Acumen’s color palette is energetic and modern. Their use of angled boxes gives a flare of visual interest, further making them seem like a forward-thinking, innovative and compelling organization. Acumen also does of a good job of showing both the qualitative and quantitative nature of their impact through engaging story-telling and simple, yet bold infographics. Their incredibly strong and authentic photography is the final piece that really sets this website apart.
amnesty.org: Amnesty International's website combines news site-like feel with clear nonprofit impact. Their home page uses large, compelling photography with an action-oriented visual language. Their newsfeed allows visitors to filter by topic, region/country, and resource type. Combined with directive and clear iconography, this website takes bold and engaging to a new level.
care.org: Care’s website does a great job of showing visitors the various ways they can take action, get involved and share content. Their site illustrates a campaign focused, impactful layout through the use of engaging infographics with clear calls to action. Care’s bold use of iconography and mapping, takes their visual language to the next level.
charitywater.org: Charity Water's website is well-organized and illustrates ‘hope’ in its truest form. Clear water, happy faces and bright photography are used in perfect balance with simple iconography, impact numbers and well composed calls to action. Lastly, their color palette and typography are both welcoming and approachable and once navigated to, their donate page is simple and unintimidating, making it easy for visitors to support their work.
farmland.org: The American Farmland Trust uses a vibrant, earth-tone focused color palette that feels warm, engaging and modern. They display information in some unique ways such as their navigation dropdown taking the form of a full-page color overlay, their challenge statement is displayed through interactive statements paired with colorful infographics and impact numbers paired with compelling photography. Their internal pages display layers of information on a single page through clear hierarchies and language.
feedingamerica.org: Feeding America's use of bold colors, large photography and unobtrusive text overlays is simple, direct and to-the-point. Their content strategy is excellent—they know their audience(s)— headlines like, “No one can thrive on an empty stomach,” are extremely compelling and give site visitors an engaging introduction to the importance of their work.
gatesfoundation.org: The Gates Foundation website stands out with an extremely clear and well organized site navigation. Though they utilize a more minimalist approach with a mobile-focused, pop-out menu, site visitors are able to quickly and easily expand sub-menus to see the full depth and breadth of this organization. Their typography is also an excellent example of classic and modern, serif and sans-serif well combined for a sophisticated legibility.
girleffect.org: Girl Effect's about page guides you through a carefully crafted narrative. They clearly and directly explain why they exist, what the issue is that they solve and the impact statistics that support their work. Girl Effect’s writing is engaging and easily digestible, inspiring site visitors with their energy, optimism and ambition.
globalfundforwomen.org: Global Fund for Women combines striking visuals with bold color and modern typography, creating an engaging and sophisticated home page. Their ‘grant-making’ ‘voice’ and ‘join’ triad illustrates an ideal content strategy and information architecture—guiding site visitors from understanding their work to a clear call to action. Internally, in addition to traditional monetary gifts, the Global Fund for Women's donate page encourages support in a variety of forms, i.e. cause marketing, corporate matching, etc.
KIPP.org: KIPP’s website utilizes a vertically oriented, color block layout that offers succinct information about their work. Small animations are included to give a sense of light-hearted professionalism. Color overlays, tabbed interfaces and a variety of sliders are used to conserve space while allowing site visitors to smoothly peruse content more deeply.
namesforchange.org: Names for Change has a visually appealing, masonry layout with a unique and compelling interactivity—it truly makes you want to ‘play.’ Their color palette is vibrant, warm and accessible with clear contrast. The site’s simple language and modern typography gives a sense of innovative social change. Furthermore, Names for Change’s use of page overlays rather than click away pages allows users to quickly and effectively absorb information before returning to the main landing page.
nature.org: The Nature Conservancy’s home page is an excellent example of large, beautiful photography, sophisticated typography and a modern layout that is approachable, engaging and has an excellent page hierarchy. Their minimalist use of iconography, combined with a back and forth grid format, ads visual interest without over-crowding the white space. Finally, The Nature Conservancy hosts a carbon footprint calculator as a content offering to drive traffic that may not be as familiar with their work or website.
onedrop.org: One Drop’s website has a sophisticated modernity illustrated through its blue-centric yet warm color palette, action-oriented typography and compelling photography. The site makes good but sparing use of animations, clean and directive information architecture and bold infographics to help site visitors move smoothly throughout the site and engage more deeply.
oxfamamerica.org: Oxfam Foundation’s visual language has a youthful vibrancy all its own. Taking a different approach than similar organizations, their color palette is bright and endearing, using a chunky paper cut-out motif for iconography and typography.
pawschicago.org: Paws Chicago’s home page illustrates well-crafted, meaningful information sharing. Their header bolsters their impact numbers by tying them to navigation right off the bat. Rather than using a slideshow, they have a nice News & Features carousel that highlights import information directly below the first ‘fold’—giving it weight and allowing site visits to jump into what’s new. Continuing down the page, site visitors are given a clear understanding of Paws Chicago’s work is important, what they do and ample opportunities to engage, learn more and donate.
possiblehealth.org: The Possible Healthcare website is a very simple brochure. It does a very good job of staying extremely lean and making good use of 3rd party softwares rather than trying to have the website do its own heavy lifting (Classy for donations, BambooHR for job postings, and clever use of Medium for blog posts and the spreading of their work on a more international platform). A newsletter popup with a compelling photo and tagline captures visitors' attention on Possible Healthcare's site
wcs.org: The Wildlife Conservation Society’s home page is full of bright images of animals, yet still finds a way to give your eyes space to rest along the way. Their left-hand menu is stationary throughout and though it takes up slightly more real estate than a top, horizontal menu, its ‘stillness’ and color palette are welcoming and calm in contrast to the activity of the page content. Internal pages again have bold photography and modern typography with the navigation tucked away into a mobile menu.
By focusing on certain website elements (i.e. navigation, layout, forms, opt-ins, calls-to-action, content offerings, etc.), nonprofits like these have been able to generate swells of interest and support online. If you haven't already, you might consider giving some of their techniques a try!
Nonprofits ask us all the time: “how can I raise more money through our website?” Although there are many moving pieces to the answer, there are several donation page best practices that will help raise more money online.
Our team has compiled a list of features from the best nonprofit donation pages on the web so that you can create a donation page template for your organization that rocks!
Use Compelling Imagery on Your Donation Page
To put it simply, do not make the donor read your page. Compel them to support your mission with imagery.
Preferably use a human that is looking directly at the camera. Studies show that website users are immediately connected to humans. So, an image of humans will draw the donor in and reinforce why they are donating in the first place.
Your Donation Page Title
The headline on the page should be short and catch your attention.
The purpose is to get the donor to read the initial content on the page and start a flow of working their eyes down the page.
First Two Sentences
The first two sentences of the page are critical to orienting the donor and reinforcing the donation process.
The copy focus on:
Reinforcing the donor’s initial intentions to donate. Remind them what they are doing
Reminding the donor of the impact their donation will make
Reminding the donor of the larger problem that they are solving by supporting your organization
Donor Quotes and Testimonials
Quotes and testimonials support the credibility of your mission and organization. They can also speak to the impact that your work has had on their lives.
Quotes are best if they come from an individual that is impacted by your work, or a well-known or well-respected person (maybe a celebrity) that supports your work.
Donation Page Security and Privacy
Remind the donor that you respect their privacy and personal data. More than ever donors are aware that their personal and financial data is vulnerable online, so make sure they know they can trust your organization.
It’s critical that your donation page is served over https.
You can also reinforce this by ensuring donors that your organization does not sell personal data to any 3rd parties.
Include a Form on a Branded Donation Pages
Include your donation form on a branded donation page. Do not send donors to a third party page that has different layout and design from your website.
Donation pages that have the same branding as your website generate 6x more donations than those that don’t.
When donors go to a page that looks completely different from your site it is jarring, and often creates issues with trust. Both of these issues will lead to increased drop off rate.
Provide Recurring Donation Options
Always give the donor an option to make their gift recurring on the donation form. Recurring gifts help provide your organization a steady flow of revenue.
Also, research shows that donors that give recurring gifts versus one-time gifts usually end up giving more over the course of the year.
If a donor considers a donation to your organization as part of their monthly budget, it is a clear sign they are advocates for your cause. They can be your most valuable donors.
Establish Trust on the Donation Page
Reinforce that your organization is responsible with your donor funds.
Use banners or badges from watch dog organizations like Charity Navigator, GuideStar or the Better Business Bureau to prove to your donors that their funds are going to good use.
Mobile Responsive Donation Pages
According to research, mobile donations made up almost 18% of all online donations in 2016. More importantly, this number is growing rapidly each year as consumers become more comfortable making purchases on their mobile devices. Allowing users to donate on their mobile devices is critical.
Remove Navigation From the Page
Navigation will distract users (Squirrel!). Remove your main navigation from your landing page so that prospective donors don’t leave.
One Step Further...
Your donation page is one very important part to raising money online. But, there are additional pieces as well. Download our guide to building a whole website that will help you raise more money online.
We don’t talk much about food and drink on Rootid’s blog, but when you’re getting ready for a 3 day trip to New Orleans for the NTEN conference, you have to plan accordingly.
If you’ve been to New Orleans, you know that the Crescent City has some of the best music, cuisine and bars in the world. If you haven’t been there before, and you’re planning a trip, then you’re in for a treat!
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit on several occasions for conferences, and have put together this list of amazing local eats, cafes and bars.
If you’re going for a conference, then you’re likely going to be located near the conference center. This list is curated to ensure that you can easily access these spots within a 20-30 minute walk depending on where you are staying.
A Map of Our Favorites
You can’t leave New Orleans without heading over to Cochon Butcher. Butcher, as it’s commonly referred to, is connected to the world renowned Cochon restaurant, run by James Beard award-winning chefs Donald Link and Stephen Stryjewski.
The menu is a take on an old world butcher with a cajun flair. Items range from a the muffaletta (my favorite) to the hot boudin. All the meats are smoked or cured in-house. They also have a great selection of beer and wine. I also love their homemade pickles!
Butcher is a perfect place for a quick conference escape since it’s is within a short walk of the convention center.
If there’s no other place you make it to, go here.
Willie Mae's Scotch House
Nothing says soul food like fried chicken. Wilie Mae’s Scotch House holds the Food Network and Travel channels title belt for the best fried chicken, so don’t miss out on this one.
This New Orleans gem is run by 3rd generation Seaton family members, and they still use the original recipes. If you don’t want fried chicken, there are a wide variety of other soul food classics to choose from.
Just make sure you get here early. A line starts to form before the restaurant opens, so if you don’t plan accordingly, you might miss your next conference session (it would be worth it if you did).
Johnny's Po-Boys doesn’t look like much from the outside, but what they’re cooking inside might change your life.
Johnny's is the oldest family-owned restaurant in New Orleans. You can smell the love when you walk in the door. It features classic southern cooking in a red plaid plastic tablecloth setting.
The menu is large, so you can come back over and over if you want to try different features like alligator sausage po-boy, crawfish po-boy, or an oyster po-boy… oh yeah they do have other incredible dishes that aren’t po-boys too.
Nothing says New Orleans quite like a freshly fried beignet with a pile of powdered sugar on top. Hey, I never said eating in New Orleans was healthy!
Although most people are familiar with the world-famous Cafe du Monde, I prefer the more reserved Cafe Beignet located in the French Quarter. It feels more like a neighborhood cafe with a quieter atmosphere, and fewer tourists hawking over you while they wait to steal your table as soon as you take your last bite.
This isn’t that close to the conference center, but it's worth the trip. Plan an early morning planned to make sure you get your fill of this classic. Order your beignet with a cappuccino for the full experience.
The Courtyard Brewery
If you like beer, then don’t miss out on this funky little spot close to the conference center. When you arrive, you might think you’re lost. The brewery looks like a little shipping container plopped down on a vacant lot. It actually might be....
Despite its appearance, The Courtyard Brewery is quickly becoming one of the places for beer geeks to frequent with its wide variety of brews. In addition to serving beers they brew on location, Courtyard has a great list of other breweries from across the country.
Stop by and have a few in their outdoor “courtyard” with friends or soon-to-be-friends.
The Rusty Nail
An urban oasis that was carved out of a rough looking building, the Rusty Nail sports a beautiful outdoor patio that is perfect for those warm New Orleans evenings. It’s located close to the convention center, so you can take the edge off after a day of sitting in seminars.
Their drink list features a number of classic cocktails with a twist, or enjoy one of their several beers on tap. They always have a good line up and can provide something for everyone no matter your preference.
The Spotted Cat
Of course, you can’t have a Best of New Orleans list without mentioning music. There are literally hundreds of places to choose from when it comes to live music in New Orleans. I’ve been to many of them, but for some reason, I always like the Spotted Cat - the quintessential New Orleans Jazz club.
For some reason I have a soft spot in my heart for The Cat. Perhaps it is because it's one of the first places I visited my first time in New Orleans.
Are there better venues? Yes. However, The Spotted Cat always has a great atmosphere, and a small enough space where you’re basically standing right next to the band all night. It just feels good.
Check it out. They have free live music there 7 nights a week.
Your website visitor's data is at risk. If you haven't heard about the legislation altering Internet privacy protections that recently passed through Congress, and is likely going to be signed by President Trump, now is the time to get up to speed.
Website encryption has been slowly increasing in importance with search engines, and has popped into the news from time to time due to data breeches at major international companies. Now, there is new reason to be concerned about website users' data being protected.
About the Congressional Vote on Internet Privacy
News outlets have been reporting that any data not encrypted that comes across the wire is going to be fair game for internet providers to collect and sell to anyone that wants it and there is nothing that individuals will be able to do to opt-out or prevent this from happening. While the time to switch to exclusively serving your site with https has long come and gone, this is one more good reason to do so.
Switching your website to load on HTTPS will encrypt the content of all communications between your website and the user accessing the site.
Safeguarding your customer's privacy is vital, since not just advertisers will be able to buy this data. Companies that are concerned about whistleblowers may purchase the internet traffic history of their employees, see what sites they visit, and any actions they took online.
Even when it's not as dramatic as that, this personal information being up for sale to anyone means that all of your users internet traffic is essentially public, and not everyone will want the organizations they donate to be public information.
How Does HTTPS Protect Your Users' Data
The good news is, there's never been more options for getting HTTPS/SSL set up for your website.
Rootid recommends our clients host their sites on Pantheon, and if that's where your site is then using the free SSL from CloudFlare is a quick and inexpensive option for getting your site traffic encrypted.
CloudFlare can be installed on your website server no matter where you host your site, in fact.
Best part: it's FREE!
If you run your own server you can use the certbot provided by Let's Encrypt, which is also a free option.
If you're on a shared server your options there a lots of options to purchase and install an affordable certificate. Generally, you can get one for $20-$30 per year.
Get Started Installing an SSL Certificate on Your Website
So when should you start?
The process to get a certificate setup is usually quick easy to complete.
Are You Losing Donations Due to HTTPS?
Statistics show that HTTPS drastically increases the amount of money that your website can raise.
Donors have more trust in sites loaded over HTTPS, and feel more secure in trusting your brand.
There are a lot of other ways to increase your donations. When Rootid has implemented these simple strategies for our clients, we've seen increases in online donations by over 100%.
Even in a debate-driven world, there’s one thing most professionals agree on: Word-of-mouth is king.
Think about it. Would you be more likely to trust the intentions of a banner ad or the person sitting across from you at brunch? A recommendation between friends is always going to carry more weight than an organization-sponsored advertisement. There’s just one problem...
We can’t control it.
Sure, we may do our best to create advocates, but we’re not working with puppet strings here (and we wouldn’t want to be). Something has to incite readers to action. Fortunately, we live in a day and age where word-of-mouth has given rise to a more amplified version of itself: word-of-text. Even the most well executed campaigns can’t hold a candle to sincere advocates taking to social media. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of eight organizations with exemplary integrations. Take a look:
Pacific Environment introduces one of our favorite integrations to the list: click-to-tweet messages. Not only do they enable visitors to spread the word to their own followers, they take the pressure off by providing a visible social script.
Do Something has a unique approach to social integration—and advocacy itself, for that matter. They help visitors find ways to participate based on their interests and how much time they’re willing to spend. Example: A few quick, exploratory clicks brought up a selfie campaign using social media.
Note that each of these examples made the experience simple and painless for visitors. Remember, people are busy. We have a small window of time to catch their interest and an even smaller window to convert that interest into action. Use both wisely.
I've gotten support issues from several clients that all revolve around a central theme: things need to happen differently on the development server than the live server and no one wants to manually change or configure anything. I've hacked together various solutions over the years and they always fall short in some way. Either they don't work 100% of the time, or they're too resource intensive, or they require too much manual intervention to be practical.
Recently, I've landed on a pretty solid workflow on Pantheon using Quicksliver. I won't talk about Pantheon or the advantages that come with hosting and developing on their platform, you're probably here because you already know. However, you may not know about Quicksilver.
Quicksilver is a relatively new part of Pantheon which allows for automating tasks and firing those tasks off before or after certain events on the Pantheon platform (pushing code, copying a database, flushing the cache...). Most of Pantheon's examples are fairly trivial, and while they provide a good starting point for understanding the platform, they don't really give you any best practices to follow or get you far in terms of something simple you can just drop into an existing site.
That's what I'm going to give you!
First, the settings files. Yes, files. Strictly speaking you don't need a settings.php file on Pantheon, but you do need one to use Drush, and you'll want Drush available in Quicksilver. I'm establishing a best practice here in Rootid of creating a settings.dev.php, settings.test.php, and settings.live.php files and using the settings.local.php include pattern to bring in one of those values based on the PANTHEON_ENVIRONMENT constant. Note: I'm NOT using the $_ENV['PANTHEON_ENVIRONMENT'] variable, which doesn't seem to be available in Drush. I want to do this because I want to create Quicksilver tasks that are 100% site independent. I want configuration to live in the site settings files, and the tasks to use those configurations instead of coupling configuration and tasks the way the examples do.
Breaking up your settings like this will allow you to easily define reusable settings files that you can just drop into a project. For my settings.dev.php I want to enable devel and disable Google Analytics, this is what my settings.dev.php looks like:
I'm adding an array to the $conf variable, qs_module_settings, and placing modules in the enabled/disabled array under it. I'll define this in all three of my environment specific settings files. Now, I'll create a Quicksilver task for enabling and disabling modules after the database is copied to an environment:
This task loads in the currently enabled and disabled modules, and the list of modules that should be enabled and disabled in the current environment. I want to note that I'm not doing a check to see which environment I'm in when I call this script. The assumption is that the settings file has made that call before this script was run. The correct values should be coming from the settings.<environment>.php file. This file should be saved to /private/scripts/update_modules/update_modules.php; the /private directory will prevent the script from being served to web users, the rest of the path is just to keep things clean.
Next, we need to create the pantheon.yml file to tell Pantheon that we want to enable Quicksilver and tell it about the service we've defined. The file is pretty self-explanatory, for more information than I could give here, check out the Pantheon Quicksilver docs. Place this file at the root of your site and it should be discovered when you commit it to your site:
Once all these files are in place push your code to Pantheon, copy the db from live to dev, and make sure your dev modules get enabled and the appropriate modules get disabled. Hopefully this help you on the path to a cleaner Pantheon workflow.
One more time I want to note that what I'm excited about with this setup is that the service being defined in update_modules.php is 100% independent of specific site configuration and as long as you always follow the same convention you can easily just drop it in to every site without modification.
Imagine going to a new grocery store and not having a clue where anything is. There are signs, but they’re vague and confusing. Maybe they’re so obscure you don’t notice them at all. Would that make for a good first impression? If you’re anything like us, you wouldn’t make a return visit anytime soon.
Now shift that scenario from a store to a website.
The same principles apply. If the navigation isn’t clear and inviting, chances are, you won’t bookmark it to visit again—or worse, you’ll leave without exploring any further. So, what can be done to save our own websites from this fictional fate? Let’s take a look at six organizations with an abundance of navigational inspiration.
EarthJustice uses color-coded horizontal navigation to differentiate informational tabs from calls-to-action. Upon hover, second and tertiary levels drop down in easy to follow menus.
Headlands Center for the Arts also color codes their horizontal navigation, but instead it’s upon hover, where secondary levels are highlighted.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation uses a minimalist approach by containing its navigation within a menu symbol in the upper left corner. Once clicked, vertical categories appear on the left side with dropdown arrows to expose further sublevels.
3. Comedy Central
Comedy Central has a horizontal navigation that changes color and drops down upon hover, displaying alphabetized secondary menus.
AIGA differentiates itself by dropping a semi-transparent gradient over the content, upon hovering over its horizontal navigation. Visitors can focus on navigational options, while still viewing the page they landed on.
This larger full screen overlay is responsive friendly, and gives you the ability to tuck away your main navigation items while still giving them full attention when called upon. A little bit more intense than the AIGA example, but another well designed and engaging option.
Navigation and Donations
You'd be surprised how much navigation can affect the amount of donations that your website receives. To help navigate this, we've put together a comprehensive guide to boosting your organization's online donations.
We demystify the technology and strategies that make it easy to raise more money.
Every organization has a story. Somewhere along the line, a spark inspired someone to challenge the status quo, and that idea was tempered by milestones to forge the business we see today. What better way to celebrate that history than to put it on display?
Your audience wants to connect with you. They want to relate and invest in your success. But to do so, you have to let them in on the narrative. That’s why timelines are so popular in web design right now. With a few clicks, audiences are able to see an organization’s impact through solid, qualitative facts that stick with them. When executed properly, they might even encourage your visitors to become part of your future—but how?
Don’t worry. We’ve searched far and wide for seven of the best tips and examples to inspire you.