Thursday, December 6, 2012

What Does Your Home Page Say about Your NPO?

I look at about a dozen nonprofit website landing (home) pages a month, both by invitation and because something points me to them. Some are for organizations just starting out, while others may have been up for several years. About two-thirds of them leave me asking “OK, what is it these people do, and how do they do it?”

The only place you have to grab and hold the visitors attention is that first web page. Whatever comes up when they visit will determine whether they stay to learn more, or leave. It is your “sales” page.

Here are some of the most common errors I see:

          1. The blank “enter our site here” page. I clicked on or entered your web address, and I expect to  see a landing page. Don’t make me work harder to find it. Don’t use funky background colors. Keep it very light, and with very little pattern. Black type on a very light or white background is still the most readable. Light green lettering on a beige background can be hard to read.

      2.  Slow loading pages. I have a fast broadband connection.  If the page is loading slowly, I will spend only so much time on it, and then I’m leaving. Test your pages before you post them. Too many animations or large images can slow the load time to a crawl.

      3.    You don’t immediately tell me if you are a 501(c)(3). Grant-makers want to see that up front.

      4.  Once I get there, your mission statement should tell me, in very few words, exactly why you are in business, and who or what you are helping.  Don’t confuse a mission statement with a vision statement. Examples:

     Good: Our mission is to provide temporary shelter and basic necessities to women in (your town) who are trying to escape abusive relationships.

Bad: We want to provide all necessary services to domestic violence victims.

The first example tells me who you are helping, indicates what you need grant or other funds for, and how large your service area is at present. The second one could mean that you want to help every domestic violence victim in the world, and is so broad that it may indicate your goals are not attainable.

Once you provide a clear mission statement about your nonprofit, you can expand on it. Referring to the first statement above, you could include a list that looks something like this:
  • Last year, (your town or state) recorded 11,000 domestic violence complaints, 7,000 physical injuries and nine deaths related to domestic violence (answers the question, why are our services needed).         
  • Through arrangements with local shelters and apartment owners, we provide vouchers for one month’s rent and gift cards at (list of retailers) for food, clothing, transportation and legal aid. The maximum length of time we can provide assistance is three (3) months.
  • Working with local job placement agencies we provide resume writing assistance and notify women of job opportunities.
  • ·We provide a list of licensed daycare locations that offer free or low-cost daycare.
  • ·The cost of providing these services is approximately $1200 per victim annually

This is about all I would try to cram into one landing page. From there you can have drop down menus or links to other pages on the site for your organizational history, supporting statistics if applicable, contact information, board member biographical information, lists of supporters, or other information that provides context, background, credibility (such as how many people you have helped to date) and a contact or donation page or tab.

If you would like a free website landing page critique, contact me at

©2012 Rebecca Lee Baisch  All rights reserved

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