Creating a Mobile-Friendly Nonprofit Website: 5 Tips

Have you ever visited a website that looked absolutely terrible on your mobile device? Perhaps the text was illegible, the menu was about seven items too long, or there was a pop-up ad with a microscopic “X” button. If so, you understand the importance of creating a mobile-friendly nonprofit website. 

Research on user experience has proven that mobile-responsive nonprofit websites are important because:

If you’ve been conducting a tech check-up or reviewing your online presence and determined that your website is coming up short regarding mobile-friendliness, this post is for you. We’ll cover what makes a website mobile-friendly and five tips for improving your site’s mobile version. Let’s get started. 

What is a Mobile-Friendly Website?

A mobile-friendly website offers an equally positive user experience on mobile devices as it does on desktop or laptop computers. 

You can make your nonprofit’s website mobile-friendly using responsive design. Responsive design adjusts to the screen size automatically, no matter what device the visitor is using. This type of design is highly fluid and quick to design because the process is automatic. Responsive design is the default for top content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress and Drupal

The top nonprofit websites make use of responsive design to offer pared-down mobile versions that make online engagement a breeze. 

5 Tips to Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly

Your nonprofit’s supporters use your website to make online donations, register for volunteer opportunities, sign up for your email newsletter, and more. Therefore, making your website mobile-friendly has wide-reaching implications for both your marketing and fundraising strategies. If you can’t effectively engage with supporters via their mobile devices, you’ll have a challenging time trying to earn their online donations. 

To ensure that your website’s mobile version appeals to supporters and offers a positive user experience, incorporate the following guidelines: 

1. Test your website for mobile-friendliness.

As you redesign your website, the changes you make to the desktop version might have unintended consequences for mobile performance. That’s why Kanopi’s guide to website planning and development recommends testing your website for mobile-friendliness on an ongoing basis, just as you assess other elements such as load speed and accessibility. 

Use both automated and manual testing to determine mobile-friendliness. Here’s a breakdown of the difference between these two types of testing: 

  • For automated testing, use tools like the Google mobile-friendliness test. You can also use built-in tools in your CMS to run preliminary tests assessing your site’s mobile quality. However, don’t only rely on these automated tests to determine mobile-friendliness because they won’t pick up every mistake and you’ll need a human eye to fully assess the mobile user experience. 
  • For manual testing, pick up your phone and routinely browse your website’s mobile version. Review important pages such as your homepage and online donation form to ensure there aren’t any formatting issues. Take a close look at your menu and other navigation tools to make sure everything is functioning properly for mobile users. 

Using a combination of these tests should help you catch as many mobile formatting issues as possible and correct them before they negatively affect your website traffic and SEO rankings. 

2. Simplify your content.

The smaller size of mobile screens means you shouldn’t cram your site’s mobile version with too much content. A cluttered website can overwhelm or cause formatting issues for mobile users. 

Double the Donation’s guide to nonprofit web design recommends streamlining your website by: 

  • Employing simple navigation. Keep your main menu to five items or less and make sure each item is large enough to be read easily. Consider using a toggle or hamburger menu that appears only when mobile users touch it to keep the main view uncluttered. 
  • Choosing images and graphics carefully. Too much visual content can clutter up your website and make it challenging for users to find what they’re looking for quickly. Select your website’s images and graphics carefully by choosing just a handful of eye-catching images for important pages like your homepage. Also, make sure any infographics you include have large enough text to be read on mobile devices. 
  • Using sufficient white space. Use white or negative space to break up pages and draw visitors’ attention to important information and elements such as your call-to-action (CTA) buttons. 

Apply these tips to not only your main website pages but also to your nonprofit’s blog posts. Ensure each of your blog posts looks great on mobile by designing them in a vertical format, with large text and attention-grabbing images. Include social media sharing buttons so visitors can easily share posts on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

3. Choose large, readable fonts and text sizes.

Another consequence of the smaller screen size of mobile devices is that text can be harder to read since it appears much smaller than on desktops. Reading text on a phone can be especially difficult for users with visual impairments. 

To improve the mobile reading experience, choose your fonts and text sizes with these tips in mind: 

  • Your text should be responsive on mobile devices. The text should automatically adjust to smaller screens and should be scalable if visitors have large text settings on their mobile browsers.
  • In general, you’ll want to choose sans-serif fonts because they tend to be better for online readability. Sans-serif fonts like Arial, Helvetica, and Futura have a more bold, streamlined appearance than serif fonts like Times New Roman, making them more accessible. Plus, sans-serif fonts are often seen as more modern than serif fonts, which can help convey your nonprofit’s forward-thinking brand. 
  • Your CTA buttons should be large and eye-catching. Your CTA buttons should be large enough to be read on mobile devices. Make sure these buttons also have sufficient color contrast between the text and button color so that they stand out on both mobile and desktop, while also making them more accessible to visitors with visual impairments. 

Readable fonts and text sizes ensure that visitors won’t have to zoom in on your site’s mobile version or struggle to understand what your text or CTAs are communicating. 

4. Increase page load speed.

A Google study revealed that 53% of visitors will leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load on mobile.

A fast website load time is important for both your desktop and mobile versions, but just like all other site elements, you must optimize your mobile load time individually for the best results. This ensures that both site versions are fully optimized and helps catch any issues that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

Use these strategies to improve your website’s mobile load speed: 

  • Minify the code by removing unnecessary characters and spaces. This helps reduce the bandwidth necessary to load your site on mobile devices. 
  • Optimize images by resizing and compressing them. This also helps save bandwidth and makes your images look better on phones.
  • Eliminate redirects by scanning your website for unnecessary redirects. You can use the tools within your CMS or use a free tool like Google PageSpeed Insights to check for redirects and other page speed issues. 

If your website loads too slowly, visitors might get distracted by texts, social media pings, or other notifications that come through their mobile devices. On the other hand, a fast load speed maintains their attention, allowing them to find what they are looking for on your website faster, keeping them engaged with your organization. 

5. Eliminate pop-ups. 

Pop-up ads and messages can be annoying on desktops, but they tend to be even more obtrusive for mobile users. That’s because the “X” button is usually a lot smaller on mobile devices than on computers. 

Plus, pop-ups that appear on your site’s desktop version will more likely than not cover the entire screen on mobile devices, which can cause a frustrating user experience. Mobile visitors will probably end up exiting your site altogether rather than struggle to close out a pop-up message or ad. 

However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid pop-ups altogether. When your desktop pop-up messages are tastefully designed and appeal to your visitors’ intentions, they can be an effective way to grow your audience. For example, you might use a desktop pop-up message to encourage visitors to sign up for your email newsletter, take advantage of a sale for your online merchandise store, or download your digital resources.

But ultimately, it’s best to remove these messages from your site’s mobile version, as they can end up doing more harm than good. 

Whether you’re creating your nonprofit’s development plan or looking to improve your online engagement strategy, prioritize creating a mobile-optimized website. These tips will help you create a website that looks just as good on mobile devices as it does on desktops. 

This guest post was contributed by Anne Stefanyk of Kanopi Studios.

As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.

Conducting a Tech Check-Up: A Quick Guide for Nonprofits

These days, there are a plethora of software tools available for nonprofits. From constituent relationship management (CRM) databases to marketing solutions and donor research platforms, nonprofits have their pick of advanced tools and resources. But how can you know if your organization is using the right tools and doing so effectively?

A nonprofit technology assessment can reveal where your organization stands in relation to your technology tools and usage. This check-up process reveals the successes and gaps in your tech strategy, ultimately allowing you to understand where there’s room for improvement.

Better technology usage can lead to a host of benefits for nonprofits, paving the way for more effective, intentional marketing and fundraising strategies. Use this guide to understand everything you need to know about nonprofit technology assessments, including:

  • When Should You Conduct a Technology Assessment?
  • Important Tech Tools to Prioritize
  • Steps of a Technology Check-Up
  • How a Tech Consultant Can Help

As DNL OmniMedia’s guide to nonprofit technology assessments states, this process determines “whether your nonprofit’s use of technology is lagging (behind the times), adapting (caught up, but not innovative), or maturing (ahead of the curve).” Your organization might fall anywhere along that continuum. A tech assessment can illuminate the next steps to take to ensure you’re using the best technology and strategies.

The reasons each organization decides to undergo a tech assessment are varied and unique, so let’s get started by exploring why your organization might want to take on this project.

When Should You Conduct a Technology Assessment?

While every nonprofit’s motivations and technology situation are unique, there are still several common triggers that encourage organizations to take a closer look at their technology.

It might be the right time to conduct a technology assessment if:

  • You feel you could be seeing greater benefits from your current tech stack.
  • You want to find areas to cut costs and simplify your technology investments.
  • Your organization has reached a plateau with its fundraising or outreach efforts and wants to kickstart its progression again.
  • You’ve seen similar organizations achieve greater results using their technology.

If you relate to any of these statements, you’re in a good position to jump into a technology assessment. Begin exploring the nonprofit resources available for carrying out this assessment. We’ll help you get a head start by exploring the top technology concerns and tools you should focus on throughout your assessment.

Important Tech Tools to Prioritize

As you conduct your nonprofit tech assessment, you’ll want to keep the common nonprofit tools that allow organizations to coordinate their daily operations, including fundraising, donor stewardship, and advocacy, in mind.

Here are the six most popular types of nonprofit software:

  1. Constituent relationship management (CRM) software: Your nonprofit CRM is the database you use to manage supporters and store information that allows you to develop donor relationships. Popular CRM solutions include Blackbaud’s Raiser’s Edge NXT, Salesforce’s Nonprofit Success Pack, EveryAction, and Bloomerang. Your CRM should be equipped with donor management features, customization options, integrations with other solutions, and automation features to quickly create reports and send follow-up communications.
  2. Virtual donation software: The ability to accept online donations is critical so that donors can give wherever and whenever they want. Your online donation platform should be able to accept a variety of payment options, be accessible on mobile devices, and allow you to customize your online donation page.
  3. Virtual events software: With the rise of remote operations and virtual communications, virtual events have become a central part of nonprofits’ outreach and fundraising efforts. Your virtual event platform should facilitate live streaming, fundraising, registration and ticketing, marketing, and technical support for your team.
  4. Matching gift software: Matching gifts are a highly impactful, but often overlooked source of nonprofit funding. In matching gift programs, corporations match donations their employees make to eligible nonprofits. Investing in a comprehensive matching gift database allows nonprofits to research which of their supporters are match-eligible to know who to reach out to with matching gift information.
  5. Accounting software: Nonprofits must keep track of their financial information to maintain transparency and accountability toward donors, grantors, the government, and the general public. Key accounting software features include the ability to track tax filing status, file documents with the IRS, and adjust user permissions so that confidential donor information is kept secure.
  6. Marketing software: As your nonprofit grows, you’ll need a centralized hub to keep track of your supporter communications and outreach campaign data. Marketing software such as an email platform and social media scheduling tool can provide the framework for organizing strategic communications. Ensure your marketing platforms can facilitate automated communications, supporter segmentation, and data analytics to measure the success of your campaigns.

All of these software tools should work together in harmony to support your organization’s fundraising and communication strategies. Recharity’s nonprofit fundraising strategy overview says it best: “Make technology work for you to improve your nonprofit’s fundraising activities.”

If one element of your tech stack doesn’t integrate seamlessly with the others, it could cause confusion or information gaps down the road. Luckily, a technology assessment can pinpoint any areas of discord so your organization can address and correct these issues.

Steps of a Technology Check-Up

Your organization has a few options for how you’d like to conduct your technology assessment:

  1. If your team has the proper resources and time, you can pursue an in-house assessment.
  2. If you’re looking for a third-party opinion and don’t have a tech expert on staff, you can partner with a nonprofit technology consultant to carry out the assessment.

For most organizations, partnering with a technology consultant is the more feasible option. A thorough nonprofit tech assessment can last anywhere from six to 12 weeks, and your staff members likely don’t have that kind of time on their hands. Plus, an impartial third party can provide the outside perspective your organization needs to fully diagnose its issues and understand which technology solutions and procedures are right for you.

If you choose to partner with a consultant, you’ll need to work with your team to complete the following steps before the assessment takes place:

  1. Determine your goals for the project. Are you looking to clean up your data, outline new tech procedures, or train your team on best practices? Is your aim to scale up your fundraising, eliminate tech barriers, or simply understand where you stand when it comes to technology? Entering the consultant relationship with defined goals in mind can help the consultant hit the ground running immediately.
  2. Create a budget for the project. Your budget should cover the cost of partnering with a technology consultant as well as funding for implementing any new software tools that the consultant recommends. You may also want to set aside funds for an ongoing consultant partnership.
  3. Choose a consultant. It’s strongly recommended that nonprofits working with powerful tools such as those created by Blackbaud and Salesforce should invest in the help of professionals to carry out their tech assessments. Tech consultants offer the background and experience necessary to pinpoint any gaps in your strategy and make recommendations for improvements.

We’ll dive into the specifics of what a tech consultant does throughout the assessment process in the next section. Once the consultant completes the assessment, your organization will want to take the following steps:

  1. Adjust your solutions and procedures according to the consultant’s advice. This might mean investing in new software tools or rewriting your technology procedures to align with best practices. For instance, you may decide to invest in a new software solution, such as a matching gift database. Or, you may need to build an integration between platforms or organize your supporter CRM.
  2. Train staff. Ensure your staff members are familiar with the new tools or processes by investing in staff training. Make sure the team members who will be using the new software tools the most have a thorough understanding of how they work and how they should be using them. Create a best-practices training guide for both long-time and new staff members to reference when they have questions.

By the end of the process, you should be left with a complete strategy for making the most of your technology tools. However, if you still need guidance for implementing your new tools and procedures, nonprofit consultants can offer ongoing training and support.

How a Tech Consultant Can Help

After you’ve partnered with a nonprofit tech consultant, they’ll go through a multistep process to learn about your nonprofit’s goals, assess your organization’s technology situation, and make recommendations based on their findings.

Here’s a general overview of what the technology consultant will actually do during the assessment:

  1. Sync with your organization. The consultant will ask questions to get to know your nonprofit and the issues you’re facing. They’ll ask about your mission, what led you to want to conduct an assessment, and your technology goals. This gives the consultant a starting point from which to build a new strategy.
  2. Analyze your tech stack and develop a new strategy. In this step, your tech consultant will lead your team through a series of surveys to understand your internal technology processes. Then, they’ll devise a strategy to meet your goals. The strategy will include the software tools you should focus on or invest in, new procedures you should implement, and recommendations for additional staff training.
  3. Document discoveries. The consultant will detail their findings in a series of reports or documents that tell your team exactly how you should proceed.
  4. Bring your team up to speed. Lastly, the consultant will sit down with your team to explain their recommendations and deliver any documentation your team needs. At this stage, they may also offer a quote for ongoing implementation services.

Beyond just technology, nonprofit consultants also offer services such as marketing guidance, website development, fundraising solutions, and more. You may discover room for growth in these areas after you’ve taken the time to optimize your technology use. If that’s the case, having a pre-existing relationship with a nonprofit consultant can be a big help.

If you haven’t conducted a technology check-up before, you might be missing out on innovative technology tools and strategies that can help you scale up your data management, marketing, or fundraising efforts. With the help of a nonprofit technology consultant, your organization can start taking advantage of the advanced tools and resources available to nonprofits.

This guest post was contributed by Carl Diesing of DNL OmniMedia.This guest post was contributed by Carl Diesing of DNL OmniMedia

Carl co-founded DNL OmniMedia in 2006 and has grown the team to accommodate clients with ongoing web development projects. DNL OmniMedia has worked with over 100 organizations and assisted them with accomplishing their online goals. As Managing Director of DNL OmniMedia, Carl works with nonprofits and their technology to foster fundraising, create awareness, cure disease, and solve social issues. Carl lives in the Hudson Valley with his wife Sarah and their two children Charlie and Evelyn.