Nonprofit Web Sites that Work — 3 of My Favorites

Nonprofit Web Sites that Work -- 3 of My FavoritesWhen I guided 30 nonprofit communicators to strengthen their writing for the Web the other day, I showed them a few great models (dos), and lots of don’ts.

Somehow the don’ts scream out; but there are so many effective sites (and other nonprofit communications models) that deserve more attention. So I wasn’t surprised when they asked me to share more effective nonprofit Web site models.

Here are three organizations that get the Web medium and how their audiences use it:

1) DonorsChoose, where donors can choose the school project they want to fund, is a great example of a site that puts the full capacity of the Web to work in executing its program. Take a close look: This isn’t communications about the org’s work, it is the org’s work. Here’s why the site works so well to engage donors and gift givers:

  • Home page features GIVE NOW in large, orange large type, profiles one project (you can scroll through more) and showcases a news item (Stephen Colbert today). A user can do much of what she wants right here. Easy. Respectful.
  • Site architecture is simple and straightforward. Users don’t have to spend any time figuring out what’s behind Door #3.
  • Each of the two target audiences — donors and teachers — have a clear way into what’s relevant, right from the home page and from the menu bar on every page.
  • Design is bright, light and clear.

2) The Human Rights Campaign’s(HRC) site is a great example of advocacy communications — clean, clear and focused. Compare it  with other advocacy org’s with busier sites (The Humane Society is one) that provide too many options for users, and you’ll see how focus has impact. Here’s what the site does well, right on the home page:

  • Clear calls to action — articulated in the left menu bar (volunteer, donate, attend an event, take action). Compare that to the Humane Society’s issue-focused navigation.
  • Up front positioning statement — Humane Society does a good job here too.
  • Relates HRC’s work to leading news stories, engages every time. here’s how to make an impact in 2008 elections.
  • Invites users to drill down for more specific info/actions by locale or issue area.
  • Reinforces HRC’s graphic identity. It’s logo and colors are striking and, although they won’t be everyone’s favorite, are easily recognizable. That’s an advantage in nurturing an active base of citizen advocates, donors and partners.

3) The Wildlife Conservation Society’s(WCS) site succeeds in providing multiple pathways into the diverse programs of a complex organization in an effective way. The WSC site:

  • Frames its most well-known programs (its parks, including the Bronx Zoo and NY Aquarium) within its research focus.
  • Makes its research agenda interesting and accessible, to spur prospective volunteers and donors to jump in.
  • Headlines key wildlife conservation issues, ensuring audiences are updated on what’s new.
  • Builds and maintains brand recognition by using the same banner bar in this main site, and in all sub-sites like the Central Park Zoo.

Remember, it’s not about your budget, but the way you think through your site goals and design. I’ve 5k sites that are far more effective than some 35k sites; and some 40k sites that exceed the impact of some 100k sites.

What are your picks among high-impact nonprofit Web sites? Please comment below to share with Getting Attention readers.

P.S. Here’s how to Shape Your Nonprofit Web Site to Generate the Actions You Need

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Nancy Schwartz on April 3, 2008 in Case Studies, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment
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  • Here’s a site we’ve been working on for Canadian Blood Services that gives a platform to blood recipients to thank their blood donors.
    http://thankyourdonor.ca/
    Comments welcomed

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