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4 Ways Design Impacts Your Bottom Line


By Allison Gauss

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

All too often, organizations think of good design as a bonus rather than a necessity. Between limited time, money, and expertise, many nonprofits find a reason to deprioritize design. Part of the problem is the misconception that design is just about making things look good. It’s so much more.

Design affects nearly every level of your nonprofit, whether you’re fighting hunger or funding cancer research. From fundraising to supporter engagement to PR, the design of your nonprofit’s website and campaign pages has a big influence on your success. Here are four ways great design enables you to accelerate your impact and pursue your mission.

1. Boost Your Credibility

Design shapes the way people see your organization, including how they gauge your authority and trustworthiness. Just think of when you’re looking for a vendor or service professional. Would you rather your plumber wore a uniform and arrived in a van clearly branded to the company, or would you be just as satisfied by a guy who shows up in sweatpants and an unmarked car? Although design is much more than looking good, appearances do matter.

design impact credibility

Possible Health combines a striking, high-resolution image with consistent branding for an engaging online experience.

When someone visits your nonprofit’s website, you want them to see you as knowledgeable and capable, and that starts with a neat, functional website. That means including high-quality images, easy-to-read text, and simple navigation features.

2. Turn Interest Into Action

Did you know that grocery stores and department stores are arranged specifically to get people to go deeper into the store and keep shopping? These businesses use their store designs to guide customers toward a desired behavior (buying more). There’s no reason your nonprofit can’t do the same with your website, email, and even direct mail. When it comes to nonprofit design, you need to keep your supporters in mind every step of the way.

To encourage your audience to take action for your cause, your website must present a clear and intuitive way forward. This means that from any page on your site, someone should have the opportunity to donate, share on social, or take some other action. For most organizations, this takes the form of a “Get Involved” tab, but don’t be afraid to experiment with modals and other calls to action.

nonprofit design for website

Alongside their “Donate” button, buildOn has a “Take Action” tab where supporters can learn about fundraising, events, and more.

3. Drive Donations

Of course, one of the most important actions your supporters can take is to make a financial contribution. And although altruism and passion for the cause are important catalysts to giving, design makes a huge difference in whether a donor makes it to the finish line.

Have you ever walked out of a store where you didn’t want to make a purchase because the line was too long or there was no one there to help you? Don’t let the same thing happen with your online fundraising.

design for nonprofit donation page

When someone clicks on the “Donate” button, Blood:Water sends them to a short and simple form.

To make donation as easy as possible, minimize the number of steps or screens supporters must navigate through. It also pays to keep your donation form short. Don’t force your supporters to fill out a survey or tell you their life story when they are just trying to make a gift. Keep in mind that your campaign and donation pages should also be branded to your organization.

4. Tell Your Story

Fundraising and storytelling are closely intertwined. To motivate people to take action, you must show them characters facing a challenge and present a way to help them reach a resolution. And great design makes storytelling much easier and more effective.

Use images and styling in your emails and on your website to introduce and continue a narrative.

nonprofit design storytelling

Blood:Water tells supporters how their gift changes lives.

Your styling and story should then carry over into the giving experience. This goes back to credibility; people want to be sure they’re giving to the cause or program they took an interest in. All stories have a beginning, middle, and end so make sure your donation forms and thank you messages provide the satisfaction of a conclusion.

Regardless of cause, location, or size, design matters for every organization. Rather than seeing design as a luxury, nonprofits must remember that the experience they create through their emails, website, direct mail, and more impacts their ability to mobilize donors and, ultimately, to achieve their mission.

For more insights and tips, download our Guide to Design for Nonprofit Professionals.

Design Basics for Nonprofit Professionals

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