How Do You Build an Effective Nonprofit Website?

Your nonprofit is a labor of love, and your team is driven by your mission. Make your site attractive and easy-to-use so others will be driven to your mission, too. Read on to learn the principles of web design and development that will have the greatest impact on your site and budget.

Analyzing The Top 15 Nonprofit Websites

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The foundation started by Bill & Melinda Gates has a persuasive impact statement to trumpet and they know how to do it. They use white, an easy background color, and black to focus your attention on the report.

Doctors Without Borders nonprofit website

Doctors Without Borders

See a photo of people in a crisis with red highlighted text that says you can make a difference. Doctors Without Borders gets right to the point.

American Red Cross nonprofit website

American Red Cross

Appointments and donations are the first actions that the American Red Cross highlights. People know this organization helps, what’s most important in that case is to drive a well of interest to action.

St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital nonprofit website

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

A doctor with a smiling child? That’s St. Jude’s, with the correct tone of bright colors and white.

The Nature Conservancy nonprofit website

The Nature Conservancy

If you wanted to preserve natural wonders, resources, and beauty, what might attract your attention? The Nature Conservancy prominently does so with a lush, rich image of a butterfly on a flower.

Natural Resources Defense Council website

Natural Resources Defense Council

This nonprofit reminds people they get a tax deduction for donating to a cause worth many contributions.

World Wildlife Fund nonprofit website

World Wildlife Fund

Connect your cause to others and show people the panoply of community problems they help heal when they contribute to you. The World Wildlife Fund connects protecting endangered species with Native Americans’ sovereignties and cultures.

UNICEF USA nonprofit web design


A clean top menu with crisp sequences of black, powder blue, and white frames a mission-centered photo. UNICEF USA had its visual web design done well.

Save the Children nonprofit web design

Save the Children

Hit the home page and your eyes go straight to a child’s eyes, then persuasive writing next to a donate button. It just so happens that the child’s shirt is red and so is the button.

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust

Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust

A carousel on the DAV Charitable Service Trust home page shows interesting information about the mission and a clean white bar above the top menu stacks the visuals nicely.

YMCA of the USA nonprofit web design

YMCA of the USA

The Y provides healthy recreation, socializing opportunities, and community bonding. A group of children smiling in the bright sunshine is a sign of the unique community service value of the Y. It takes up a large amount of space, and the rest of the page isn’t cluttered.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America

Boys & Girls Clubs of America

A content-rich but not too-long video is a good way to break apart reading of text, and is a harder leap in content creation than images in general. Notice how the video (with individual stories in it) pops out crisply and loads quickly.

United Way Worldwide web design

United Way Worldwide

They use white space generously to guide attention. This helps emphasize certain critical facts, including ones that would look tremendous in an impact statement, like how many people they have helped.

Habitat for Humanity International website

Habitat for Humanity International

The website makes it clear from the get-go that this nonprofit helps supply shelter to families. The service is clear, the emotional impact is immediate.

Make-A-Wish Foundation of America website design

Make-A-Wish Foundation of America

Make-A-Wish uses one primary color, a darker blue with white as the safe background color. On the home page, a smiling adorable child is the first thing your eyes snap toward.

Sayenko Design’s Approach To Nonprofit Website Design

We know that nonprofits are busy. That’s why we offer a streamlined process that will save you time and money. Our team of experts will work with you to create the perfect site, so all you have to do is focus on what matters most – your mission!

We recommend starting with a strategy that appeals to those who cherish your cause, and organizes the site’s user experience so they can find their way to engagement and donation opportunities.

Our approach to nonprofit web design is to start from the strategy, building wireframes that map out how information will be presented, then bring your nonprofit’s brand to life through visual design and animation. Everywhere you look, the page design matters.

We build custom code on top of proven WordPress themes, which not only speeds up your nonprofit website’s development time, but also makes it significantly easier to manage on the backend once we hand the site off. We make it so you don’t have to call us up every time you want to change a headline or add a new blog post.

Getting discovered by your group of givers means optimizing for the things they search for. We optimize the code of your site to gain the most organic traffic possible, and create content strategies that keep you posting search-worthy content about your nonprofit’s cause.

Our Nonprofit Websites Case Studies

Transforming Age nonprofit web design

Transforming Age

This project involved helping a nonprofit dedicated to serving seniors with online access to a holistic set of services, including housing. The key was to make a clean, easy-to-use website for seniors for whom Transforming Age makes a significant difference.

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boys and girls club nonprofit website design

Boys & Girls Club

This famous after school and childcare program needed to bring their many distributed clubs under one cohesive umbrella. From both a storytelling and a technology perspective, we helped make their mission easier than ever to achieve.

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boys and girls club nonprofit website design
first move chess nonprofit website design

America’s Foundation for Chess

Making underserved kids excited about learning? This nonprofit turns the tables on traditional chess. We brought this foundation’s real unique service point to life—helping kids feel curious and focused.

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The Basics Of Nonprofit Website Design Strategy

Start with Your Story

Potential supporters need to know who they’re helping and why. Tell them where you started, where you’re going, and what impact you’ve had so they feel inspired to be a part of it.

Use Content to Attract Supporters

Give visitors something interesting to do or look at as soon as you can. Put strategic actions like volunteering or subscribing, and blurbs or mission-related flavor text throughout every page and piece of content they might land on. Think of it as a 5-second rule for potential donors and volunteers.

Design for Visitors and their Journey

You’ve got to understand who your audience really is, what problems they’ve got and how they’re getting a solution with you. As a nonprofit you’re figuring out (a) who wants to give to you, (b) what motivates them to give and remember later, and (c) how can we get them to spread the word?

Focus On Conversions

Everything on your site should drive towards a handful of important goals: driving donations, gaining volunteers, building awareness and telling your story. That doesn’t mean being unsubtle or desperate in the language, but each page, section, and activity should have a way to tie into the core goal that keeps the organization alive and doing its important work. Your blog may ask for joining an email newsletter, but in some of those emails you’ll be pushing subscribers to donation drives or volunteer opportunities, as an example.

Give Them Your Number(s)

Potential donors are always interested to see results. Show them your work and your wins through impact statements backed up by statistics. Always tie it back to the human face, the people, animals, environ