4 questions every nonprofit needs to answer on their website

Chris Esh

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Most nonprofit websites have way too much content while simultaneously leaving their audience’s key questions unanswered.

In order to focus on what matters, aim to answer these four key questions on your website. You can also use these questions in reverse to evaluate whether existing content is necessary. If it’s not directly helping to answer one of these, you may be better off without it.

Who are you?

People want to know who is behind the work. Are you a large organization or a ragtag group of volunteers? Who’s in charge? Where do you get your funding? Have you been around for decades or are you a brand new organization? Who are your staff members? Where are you located?

This section of your website won’t get the most traffic but it’s absolutely essential for building trust. If you don’t first introduce yourself as a reputable organization, your lofty goals and ambitious programming may ring hollow.

No need to be long-winded here—this is simply setting the stage for the more important parts of the website, such as your mission and programs. Be transparent but concise.

Pages to help answer this question:

  • About Us/Who We Are
  • Staff & Leadership
  • Board Members
  • Funders
  • Our History

What do you stand for?

Effective nonprofit websites clearly articulate their vision for society. Don’t get lost in the industry-jargon word-soup though. Make it real and make it resonate with your target audience of supporters.

What drives your passion? What makes people excited to support you? What’s the issue/problem that you’re dedicated to fixing?

Feel free to think big picture here, but also be believable. It would be great to end world hunger, but you’ll come off as far more credible and realistic if you instead aim to, for example, make sure no child goes to bed hungry in your neighborhood or to increase food security in a particular region.

In other words, make sure you specify who your work is intended to help. You may want to provide some context for users to really understand the history and demographics of the people/region/industry you’re trying to support.

Be bold and take a stand. There are likely other organizations doing similar work, so make sure to differentiate yourself. Don’t try to appeal to everybody, but rather home in on your core supporters, even at the risk of turning off others.

Lastly, make it concise. You should be able to explain your core mission in a couple sentence “elevator pitch.” It’s fine if your mission includes a dozen different goals, but make sure they can be summed up in an overarching mission. If not, take some time to clarify that before writing your website content.

Pages to help answer this question:

  • Our Mission/Vision
  • Purpose Statement
  • Our Platform
  • Strategic Plan

How do you achieve that mission?

This is the meat of your website content, where you explain the programs and activities you carry out to advance your mission. You’ll likely want to include a page for each program area to explain what exactly you do and how it relates to your mission.

Be specific. What do these programs actually do? What is your approach, process or criteria for providing support? Are these one-off activities you’ve done in the past or ongoing projects?

Also make sure to weave in success stories and numbers to prove your impact. These anecdotes and data points are intended to further build trust that your approach works.

Numbers are great, but stories (wIth photos!) are the most memorable.

Blog posts are a great way to further explain your approach and celebrate your successes. Most importantly blog posts provide a snapshot of what you’re doing now, as opposed to the static parts of your site that remain largely unchanged from year to year.

Pages to help answer this question:

  • Our Programs
  • Our Services
  • Our Impact
  • Blog

How do I get involved?

Too many organizations do a decent job explaining who they are and what they do, but then fail to provide any meaningful ways for users to get involved.

They may love what you’re doing, but if there’s no concrete way they can be part of the work, they’ll move on. Get creative and think of as many ways as possible they can join in the work.

If you’re asking for donations, don’t just link them to a Paypal form and send them on their way. You need to close the sale. Be specific about how donations are used (e.g. $25 provides a literacy kit to an elementary school student) and include photos of the people/animals/environments that are impacted by your work.

Try to think about other ways people can support your work in addition to donating. Maybe they can volunteer, host events, attend events, join a committee, foster a pet, share about your work on social media, or buy merchandise. These kinds of activities make people feel more engaged with the work, which will often inspire them to donate more and spread the word among their friends.

Pages to help answer this question:

  • Support Us
  • Donate
  • Events
  • Volunteer
  • Get Involved
  • Get Our Newsletter
  • Spread the Word
  • Connect with Us

Final thoughts

Nonprofit website content is pretty straightforward, but most organizations make it far more complicated than necessary. In the worst (and far too common) case, the website becomes a repository for each department to make the case for the importance of their work, rather than actually answering the questions most relevant to the user.

As a rule of thumb, less is more when it comes to website content. Nobody is going to read every paragraph on every page, so the more concise your content, the more control you have in guiding people to the most important information.

Lastly, make your website text read in a friendly, conversational way. Don’t be afraid to let your personality as an organization show through in your brand. Being “professional” and serious won’t win you any new supporters; coming across as human and genuine will.


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