The nonprofit sector faces a variety of security threats, including data breaches, phishing attacks, malware, and ransomware. When cyberattacks happen, the consequences can be dire for constituents and donors. For example, last year’s cyberattack on the International Committee of the Red Cross stole data from over 515,000 “highly vulnerable people” who had been recipients of the organization’s aid.
We don’t share this information to scare you. On the contrary, nonprofit professionals should feel empowered to face cybersecurity threats by taking the necessary measures to protect their constituents’ data and enhance donor trust. When constituents and donors trust your organization, they’ll feel much more comfortable providing you with personal data and donating to support your campaigns.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at top strategies for using your nonprofit’s web design and content to build trust with your online audience, including:
- Showcase your security credentials.
- Be transparent about finances.
- Brand your website cohesively.
- Leverage social proof.
Your website is your nonprofit’s most valuable online marketing tool and acts as an essential resource for prospective supporters during the research phase of the donor journey. When your website reveals all the ways that your nonprofit keeps donor information safe, potential supporters will feel much more comfortable using the site and contributing their hard-earned funds to your cause.
1. Showcase your security credentials.
Today’s nonprofit donors want to ensure that they’re giving to organizations that have clear plans in place to keep data secure and use donations effectively. Your nonprofit’s website should provide detailed information about how your organization approaches data security.
Use these strategies to show donors that you take security and accountability seriously:
- Include your Charity Navigator rating. Charity Navigator is a nonprofit that provides free information about the health and viability of different charities. The Charity Navigator website provides ratings for nonprofits based on criteria such as accountability and finances, culture and community, and leadership and adaptability. If your organization is highly rated by Charity Navigator, include your rating on your About page or within your website footer. This is an effective way to let donors know that your organization has been vetted by an authoritative third-party resource.
- Share information about your ongoing security policies. Let donors know that your organization regularly conducts database hygiene audits and runs software updates to keep your security measures up to date. Also, provide information about your policies and safeguards for responding to security breaches if they do happen.
- Use two-factor authentication for gated areas of your website. If you offer an online donor or volunteer portal on your nonprofit’s website, require two-factor authentication for log-ins. This extra security measure helps prevent hacking and keeps supporters’ accounts more secure.
Kanopi’s roundup of the best nonprofit websites includes plenty of effective examples of different ways nonprofits use their websites to promote their security credentials. For instance, the Doctors Without Borders website includes the organization’s security and accountability certifications in the fixed footer. The Feeding America website includes a detailed FAQ page with links to the organization’s privacy policies and information about its certifications from organizations like Charity Navigator and GuideStar.
Review these examples and consider how you can incorporate similar strategies into your nonprofit’s web design approach.
2. Be transparent about finances.
In addition to security, your nonprofit’s current and potential donors will want to know that your organization is fiscally responsible. Make your financial reports and data easy to find and browse on your website.
Take strides toward greater financial transparency with the following tips:
- Make your annual reports user-friendly. Double the Donation recommends making your annual report a downloadable resource on your nonprofit’s website that everyone can access. Ensure your reports are accessible and readable, with infographics and charts that highlight the most important information that supporters should know.
- Make your Form 990 available on your website. Nonprofits aren’t required to make their Form 990s accessible on their websites, but it can be nice to include them as an additional way to show supporters that you’re committed to transparency and accountability.
- Post fundraising progress updates to your blog. Provide ongoing progress reports for your fundraising campaigns, such as your crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, or capital campaigns. When your campaigns conclude, be transparent about whether you met your stated fundraising goals.
Your donors need to know exactly where your nonprofit stands financially to make an informed decision about whether they trust you to use their donations wisely. These strategies show website visitors that your organization has nothing to hide and welcomes public inspection.
3. Brand your website cohesively.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “perception is reality.” Of course, your nonprofit will do everything in its power to maintain a high level of security and ward off threats. But it always helps to ensure that your website’s image also reflects your commitment to security. Therefore, if your website looks trustworthy and credible, visitors will inherently be more likely to trust your organization.
You can enhance your website’s reputation by using a cohesive brand strategy. This means your website should be consistent across these categories:
- Brand strategy. Maintain uniformity of your brand logos, colors, typography, and tone.
- Design. Your website should have a consistent look and feel across pages. For example, if your homepage features a minimalist design, you should continue this approach across all other pages, from your donation page to your About page.
- Navigation structure. Your navigation structure should align with user expectations and be identical across all pages.
Make sure your branding is also consistent across other marketing materials and campaigns, such as your advocacy efforts or crowdfunding campaigns. Uniform branding across marketing platforms helps promote brand awareness and foster a professional brand image.
4. Leverage social proof.
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon wherein people mimic the behavior of others when determining how to act in a given situation.
You can leverage social proof throughout your nonprofit’s website by sharing information that reveals your nonprofit’s close, productive relationship with its current supporters. This will show prospective donors that your nonprofit is widely respected and trusted.
Promote social proof using these techniques:
- Feature donor testimonials. Include quotes from long-time donors on your giving page or testimonials from DIY fundraising participants, such as peer-to-peer fundraisers.
- Show the impact of your organization’s work. Share impact reports that recap recent projects or highlight progress you’ve made in your years of operation. Include specific statistics about the number of constituents you’ve helped or volunteer hours you’ve facilitated.
- Spotlight news articles about your nonprofit. Capitalize on any positive publicity your nonprofit receives from news outlets by sharing articles on your blog and social media pages.
These strategies will show current and prospective donors that your nonprofit is reliable and worthy of their future support.
Donor trust isn’t built overnight. It’s something your nonprofit can reinforce over time in a variety of ways, including through your website design choices.
If you feel like you could use a helping hand in strategizing how to better design your website to foster audience engagement and trust, don’t hesitate to reach out to a nonprofit web design firm. These professionals can help you design your site in a way that furthers credibility while remaining true to your brand and marketing goals.