Your website. Emails. Brochures. Direct mail. Online donation form. Fundraising appeals.

None of them are for you. They’re for your donors and supporters.

What We Want Doesn’t Matter

When creating online and offline materials, too often nonprofits create a specific concept or design that they like, that fits their needs. But what happens if a donor sees it and can’t make heads or tails of it? What if they have trouble reading it because the design uses a funky font that people aren’t used to reading? Will too many flashing lights, bells and whistles distract readers from taking action?

What happens is readers stop reading? They bounce to a different site. They throw your direct mail ask in the garbage.

Here’s the deal: Stop designing for you and start designing for your audience! Yes, your materials should be branded with your colors. But beyond that, the content and how people navigate that content should not be solely determined by people within your organization.

Let’s look at three examples of designing for others:

Your Website

Your website is your window to the world. People find you via links you post on social media, through Google searches or maybe someone sent them to your site because your organization has information relevant to what they’re seeking.

When’s the last time you looked at Google Analytics? Check bounce rate and time spent on site. Is your bounce rate high and time on site low? That could mean people are coming to your site, they can’t find what they want and they’re bouncing.

How do you fix that? TEST! Find ten people not associated with your organization and ask them to perform five tasks. Find a certain item/page/piece of information, fill out a form, read a post. Observing them will give you plenty of insights into whether your site is easy to navigate, whether the information is clear, how people use your site.

Build your website for the user experience, not what your boss wants to see.

Your Online Donation Form

Have you ever tried to donate to your organization online? I highly suggest you do so. It will give you insights into the donor experience.

If you get frustrated with the form (for example, there are too many fields to fill in), imagine how a prospective donor feels. Now consider how many donations you’ve LOST because the form isn’t user friendly!

Give 10 people $5 and ask them to donate online. Observe them and list their feedback. If it’s a seamless and easy process, great! If it’s complicated, time to fix the form. That $50 investment could end up netting you many times more.

Your Emails

The folks at Really Good Emails coined the phrase “design golf.” In golf, the goal is to have the lowest score possible. In email marketing, you want your emails to have as few design elements as possible.

Do your emails use 3 different font sizes, content which is both aligned left and aligned right and has 4 different calls to action- each of which is a different colored button? If so, please check your open and click thru rates because I’m willing to bet they’re below average.

It’s not a given that someone will subscribe to your enewsletter. People’s inboxes are overflowing. So if someone allowed you into their Inbox, the least you could do is ensure that your emails are easy to scan, very readable and have one call-to-action that mobilizes people to take action. Anything beyond that and people will simply stop reading your emails.

It’s Not About You

In fundraising asks, a cardinal rule is “don’t confuse people.” The second people have to think is the second where you potentially lose their donation. Give them the facts, let them see how to solve a problem and donate.

The same applies to all your marketing and fundraising materials. Make them easy to navigate, easy to read, easy to take the desired action. When it’s complicated and confusing, they’ll simply move on. An opportunity lost.

You need to test and know what users want. Use the data to help guide your design decisions. You must design for the user experience, not for yours. 

Think about others before yourself. It’ll do wonders for your fundraising and marketing.

I help nonprofits build relationships and raise more funds so they can increase program offerings and assist more service recipients in their community. If your fundraising and marketing need an upgrade, let’s talk! Together we’ll ensure your marketing is helping and improving your fundraising efforts.