Discussions on digital marketing for nonprofits usually focus on social media, increasing follower counts, and sending automated emails. However, a well-optimized nonprofit website is a necessity if you want to be found quickly when people search for your organization, take donations online, and grow your base of volunteers and supporters.
This is the first post in a series of articles on creating the perfect nonprofit website. There are only 5 pages you need to launch an effective website for your organization and to get found online. Over the next few weeks, this series will give you the tools you need to create a new website or to turn a critical eye toward your existing website and learn how to improve it so you can reach more potential donors and volunteers in the new year.
The first page we’ll discuss is an “About Us” or mission page.
You might be asking why we don’t do a homepage first since it’s usually the first page a visitor lands on. There’s a good reason for that. Your home page is actually just a summary of all the content from the other four pages we’ll develop, so in order of priority, the homepage is the last page we complete. That doesn’t mean it’s any less important than the other pages, but in terms of the order, it does come last. So, the homepage will be the last article in the series, and over the next few articles, you’ll understand why we do it that way.
What is a Nonprofit “About Page” or Mission Page?
Your “about page” or mission page is a place to showcase the nonprofit and all the good work you do. It’s a biography of your organization, and it will include critical items like:
- A mission statement
- Information about your team members
- Pictures, videos, and other media
- Links to relevant social media profiles
- Brief Statements of Impact
- A call to action
Your Nonprofit Mission Statement
There is no upper limit to the amount of information you put on this page, but if your mission or vision statement is text-heavy, make sure to break up large blocks with images or pull-graphics.
Most nonprofits will simply list their mission statement and then move on. This is a mistake. Your mission statement is the driving force behind much of what you do. Take time to craft content for this page that supports your mission and puts it on display.
Here’s a vision statement from Tobacco-Free Kids at the very top of their "about" page. It works to frame everything that they do, and all the content which appears after the statement.
Your Team Members
The about page is a great place to introduce your team members and help potential supporters understand who is behind the organization and what talents and experience they bring to the work.
If you work in a field like domestic violence, where privacy may be an issue, you don’t have to publish images of your staff and their names, but make sure to highlight the relevant experience your team brings to the table. It can make a difference with grant-making organizations that do their first round of research on your website. It can also sway potential volunteers and donors who want to know your organization will make good use of their donated time and money.
If you have a large team, it's okay to place that information on pages separate from your about page, but you should add links so people can learn more about the people that make up your organization. The National Urban League breaks out their team by departments and shows in image for each team member. They also have a paragraph or two about that person's background and what they do for the league. This adds personality to their site, and, with the short bios, makes it clear their staff are experts at what they do.
Using Images on Your About Us Page
Use images from events, pictures with supporters and advocates in action, and videos that show the personality of your team. The more you can do to stand out from the crowd the more successful you will be in getting people to engage with you.
Here's an example of how Results.org displays contextually relevant images on the about page explaining what they do. Their images focus on the context of advocacy and their diverse coalition of supporters. They start with a large picture of their team members on the steps of Congress then continue with other iconic images from our nation's capitol. Anyone interested in affecting government would be inspired by this page.
Remember, you need to give people a reason to care about your organization. Simply doing good work is not enough. If someone is going to spend their time or hard-earned money to support you, they want to feel like they’re making a difference. This section of your site should be friendly, comfortable, and infused with a dramatic narrative. You don’t have to be Shakespeare here, you should tell a story.
Results.org does this with just a few short paragraphs of text. They use emotionally powerful words like "passionate" and "committed" in how they describe their work. In the following paragraph, when discussing their volunteer's work, they talk about "multiplying their impact through enormous power of advocacy." What a fantastic, action-packed statement.
Make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors. This is important because mistakes make your organization look unprofessional and people will think: “If they don’t care enough to check the spelling on a few website pages how can they possibly help people in real life?”
Links to Social Media Profiles
The “About Us” page will usually be the second most visited page on your site, so make sure you give readers a place to go when they’re done consuming the content. Adding links to your social networks is a good way to continue the conversation and build engagement opportunities.
We don’t recommend regurgitating long lists of your Facebook and Twitter status updates in feeds on your “About Us” or mission pages. People don't usually visit websites just to interact with your social feeds - they'll do that on those networks directly. Instead, place a few icon links to the networks where you are active.
The Conservation Fund does this in their footer, which is always a good place to display social icons, since they show up on every page on the site. But they also do this on the About Page, with simple icons and a very short list of their most recent tweets.
Brief Statements of Impact
It’s always a good idea to include brief statements of your organization’s impact on your about us / mission page.
If it’s not clear in your mission, your impact statements should make explicit the problem your organization is made to tackle. Express this in numbers or statistics or graphics. Tobacco-Free Kids highlights their work with a combination of graphics and text.
You don’t need to dump everything you’ve ever done here or a story about every person you’ve ever helped. Keep it brief, and cover the high-level impacts.
How Long Should Your About Us or Mission Page Be?
There is no right or wrong here, but it should be long enough to get your mission across but not so long that people can’t quickly grasp the important concepts. And it certainly shouldn’t take the average person a week to read. While the typical viewer will stay on your “about us” page longer than most other pages, you still get just a few seconds to make a good first impression. Again, long blocks of text need to be broken up with images, bold headings, quotes, etc.
Take a look at our earlier example, Tobacco Free Kids, and how they position the about us page. See how they took a long bio and broke it up with headings, images, and other graphics. It moves the reader’s eyes across the page and then down, making them stop to read snippets of captions and breaking up the monotony of long text blocks.
They use imagery, including kids at a rally, an annual report download that discusses their team and impact, use graphics to display impact statistics in a creative way, and they end with a call to action.
Ending Your About Us Page with A Call to Action
If the reader makes it to the end of your mission page there’s a good chance they’re interested in what you have to say. Congrats!
Make sure your about page has a call to action that will grab the reader’s attention and move that viewer around your ladder of engagement. This can be a fundraising call to action, an appeal for volunteers, or something as simple as continuing the conversation on social media or joining a mailing list for future updates.
The Cure Starts Now has a very effective mission page that starts with a compelling video that describes the reason their organization exists, what they're doing to combat pediatric cancer, and how you can help. They have a Salsa Fundraising form embedded right in the center of their page. And those who happen to miss the first call to action are drawn into a graphical funnel and their eyes are pointed to another donate button and signup form.
No matter what type of call to action you use, this is a great opportunity to integrate your nonprofit CRM. Tools like Salsa Engage can be embedded directly onto any website platform (like in the image above) to capture all your reader’s information and keep it organized so you can appeal to them later.
Stay tuned for our next article in the series of digital marketing for nonprofits when we discuss how to create the perfect impact pages and program pages for your organization.
In the meantime, send us a note and share your “About Us” or mission pages. Leave a comment on our Facebook page at Facebook.com/Salsalabs and we’ll amplify your voice and share it with our community as well.
Good luck and happy designing.
Articles in the Nonprofit Website Design Series:
- Part 1: About Pages & Mission Pages
- Part 2: Impact Pages & Program Pages
- Part 3: Volunteer and Take Action Pages
- Part 4: Fundraising and Donate Pages
- Part 5: Homepages
- Part 6: Integrating Your Nonprofit Website with Other Tools