Learn how to fix several of the main conversion rate issues for non-profit websites!

It is sadly common for non-profits to encounter this kind of problem regarding their websites. On one hand, your organization is doing great work to improve the world, and your website is getting tons of traffic. But on the other hand, that traffic is not reflected in the actions users take on your website, whether it be donations, registering for events, becoming members, volunteering, etc. This is something we call “hollow traffic” because it doesn’t ultimately help your non-profit fulfill its mission.

First, let’s clearly define what conversion and conversion rates are.

  • What is a Conversion? This is when a user performs an action previously defined by you on your website, such as donating, registering, getting a membership, volunteering, etc.
  • What is Conversion Rate? This is the percentage of visitors that perform actions on your website out of the total number of users.

In order for your website to really help your non-profit, the Conversion Rate would ideally be high, with a good percentage of users actually contributing to the cause.

Conversion Rate Issues

If not enough users are converting on your website, these could be the causes. We’ve included tips on how to fix them!

1. Jack of all trades, master of none

One of the main problems non-profits have when trying to communicate with the world is that (logically) they try to target as many people as possible, assuming that such an approach will guarantee more interested people, but in these particular cases, you need to focus on reaching out to a specific demographic. Targeting everyone will cause your calls to action to be less specific, your tone to become more generic, and you not being able to deeply connect with anyone. People need to see CLEARLY that you’re talking to them.

How to fix this?

Define who your ideal public is. Once that decision is made and clear, you’ll need to develop a language and a way to communicate effectively with your target audience. One of the ways in which you can find out how to talk to your audience is by interviewing people who have already engaged with your website, and asking them what motivated them to participate.

2. Understanding what you do is a mental exercise for new users

What your organization does and how you help should be the absolute main things people find when first entering your website. Not only do they have to be visible, but they have to be explained in an extremely clear way. Imagine being a new user willing to donate to the first non-profit they find, but they struggle to find what your organization is about, or how to help. AND once they find it, they don’t understand it. Would you donate or volunteer?

How to fix this?

This should be one of the very first steps you take in your virtual journey, but clearly define what your organization does and exactly how you help, and then find the most obvious, clear, and visible way to show it on your website. Simple as that. Get rid of the jargon (unless you have a highly technical purpose and target audience) and the metaphors.

3. Getting to the transactional pages takes several steps

When your content is not well organized and distributed throughout the website, the users’ navigation experiences will not be as smooth, direct, and simple as they should be. The calls-to-action need to be very easily found and the process of donating, registering, etc need to be super simple and direct.

How to fix this?

Organize your content. Make your transactional pages (Donate, Register, Volunteer, Become a Member) super easy to find. Make good use of your top/side navigation menus. Use buttons. Do not waste your homepage.

4. Your website overwhelms the users with too many options

If you overdo the previous “solution”, your visitors may still go away before actually contributing. Many websites include, in the same reduced space, “Donate”, “Subscribe to the Newsletter”, “Volunteer”, and “Register” buttons thinking they are helping the user by showing them all their options, but they are not. Many people, when confronted with too many choices, they’ll make none and run away.

How to fix this?

Distribute the calls to action. Each page should have a primary invitation. You’ll need to analyze where to put each thing, by looking at what information is on that particular page, and relating it to a problem that the user might be trying to solve, and then offer them a solution. Try to limit the calls to action as much as possible. Remember this word: simplicity.

5. You are not earning your visitors’ trust

You can clearly state your mission and your intentions, and you can offer them many paths to help you and the cause, but if you are not showing them the results of your work, and showing them directly how your efforts actually make a difference in the world, they have no way of knowing what impact their contribution is going to have, or even if it’ll reach its destination or not.

How to fix this?

Add a Staff page with bios where people can see your face, your credentials, and your experience. Have a robust Impact page to show new users how your efforts (and potentially theirs) are making a real difference in the world. Create a Financials page, with tax documentation and details on how the donations actually get to where they need to go. Include testimonials of people who have already donated and are happy with the results. Make it easy for people to contact you.

There you go! These are the main conversion rate issues we could come up with, and their solutions. We hope this page helps you get your conversion rate up!