COVID-19 and Nonprofit Web Design: 6 Elements You Need

September 11, 2020  |  Ira Horowitz

For nonprofit organizations, websites are often the foundation and central resource of their entire online presence and digital marketing strategy. Having a dedicated and well-designed website is key to ensuring that your supporters can learn more about your organization, explore your upcoming campaigns, register for fundraising events, and give donations online.

With COVID-19 putting a pause on in-person donor engagements and requiring organizations like yours to cancel many anticipated events, it’s worth it to revisit your current website and ensure that you’re doing all you can to maximize digital opportunities and fill the gaps in your fundraising revenue.

For one thing, online fundraising and donor engagement are now likely your sole priorities. With social distancing guidelines in place, you should be doing everything you can to make the most of those digital efforts. All of the best nonprofit websites utilize their design attributes to encourage online engagement, whether you’re trying to raise revenue or attract people to a virtual fundraising event.

Now that nonprofits rely on their website more than ever before, it’s essential that you clean up any previous issues that may have previously gone under the radar and optimize your content design. Here are some of the top things that your nonprofit needs to keep up with the demands of COVID-19 era fundraising:

  1. Clear navigation menu
  2. Fast load speeds
  3. Integrated donation tools
  4. SEO optimizations
  5. Web accessibility and compliance
  6. System integrations

Don’t let your nonprofit website be the reason your fundraising efforts start to falter! Let’s dive in.

1. Clear navigation

Your nonprofit website is likely the first place prospective donors go to learn more about your organization and mission. Because of this, you have to ensure that your website is actively serving the needs of your supporters.

Your nonprofit website should be designed intuitively so that when users land on your homepage (or any page within your site), they have a clear pathway to follow and find your primary landing pages. The best way to do this is through a clear navigation menu that can be used no matter where you are on your website.

A clear navigation menu provides the answers to your supporter’s questions in an easily digestible way. For example, many nonprofit websites’ menus have buttons directing visitors to their organization’s history or their event calendar. This is because these are common goals and questions that supporters want to learn about when exploring your website.

Now that your fundraising efforts are likely shifted due to the current global pandemic, make sure your website menu has also adapted to serve the most common and relevant questions and needs that users have. While this likely depends on your exact situation, for nonprofits across the board, make sure your navigation provides access to the following:

  • COVID-19 resources
  • Online donation forms
  • Upcoming virtual volunteer opportunities
  • Virtual events
  • Information on your organization

This way, no matter where your supporters are, they can quickly get the answers to their questions, perform the actions they want, and continue contributing to your organization.

2. Fast load speeds

One of the biggest reasons people might exit a website and close its pages is due to an unsatisfactory user experience. This is often caused by slow loading speeds. Fast loading speed is a must-have for an effective nonprofit website. Even if your website is obviously more legitimate than others, a lag in load time is enough to drive potential users away for good. According to experts, users often exit pages after 10–20 seconds, unless the page has clear value that can hold the user’s attention for much longer. Clearly communicating your value proposition within 10 seconds is your best bet.

In order to check if your website’s page speed is up-to-par, check out this free PageSpeed Insights tool developed by Google.

If you find that your own website or a specific page has unsatisfactory loading speeds, there are some quick ways that you might be able to remedy that. Consider the following tips:

  • Compress your images
  • Reduce the number of redirects
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN)
  • Upgrade hosting package

Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool also generates suggestions specific to your webpage, reporting on both the performance on mobile and desktop devices. The provided suggestions also estimate just how much time users might save!

3. Integrated donation tools

In order for your nonprofit website to effectively serve your mission and your supporters, you need to provide online donation options. In the age of COVID-19, this is more important than ever. Without an effective and comprehensive integrated donation tool, collecting online gifts will be more troublesome than it’s worth.

For one thing, try to stay away from one-off donation tool solutions, even if they may seem convenient and financially beneficial in the moment. Ensure that your donation tool can integrate with both your content management system and larger fundraising database.

Your integrated donation tool should have the following qualities:

  • Can embed donation forms right into your website
  • Equipped with an integrated payment process for a seamless and secure donor experience
  • Can offer and effectively facilitate recurring gifts
  • Saves important donor information into your database and donor profiles

Your donation solution plays a vital role in online fundraising. Without an integrated donation tool, fundraising during COVID-19 is ultimately impossible. Ensure that your website provides this essential process in a streamlined and efficient manner with the right online donation tool.

4. Search engine optimization

With a larger focus on online fundraising, your nonprofit should be doing all it can to optimize your website and improve its search engine rankings. Search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming increasingly important if you want your website to rank for your most popular topics and get clicked on by potential supporters.

An SEO optimized website is crucial to maximize your success for all online fundraising efforts. This is especially true during COVID-19, or if you’re trying to increase your audience and reach more potential donors. Here are some other benefits of what an effective SEO strategy can do for your website:

  • Establish targeted keywords that represent your core mission as well as resonate with supporters
  • Grow your organic traffic
  • Leverage and capitalize existing traffic
  • Meet all of your audiences’ needs
  • Ensure your website is accessible on any device

Taking the time to make sure your website ranks well is crucial for fundraising during this time. To get a better sense of the SEO opportunities your own website may be missing out on, consider exploring the free Google analytics tool to pinpoint areas of weakness. If you're just now hearing about SEO for the first time, it might be better to explore introductory articles like this one before jumping into Google's tools.

5. Web accessibility and compliance

No matter what, your nonprofit website should always be thinking about accessibility and compliance.

Web accessibility describes how the internet and its content should be usable by all people, no matter their location, device, language, or ability. A 100% accessible website should allow users with diverse ranges of hearing, movement, and sight to interact and engage with its content with ease.

For most websites, ensuring accessibility can be done with smart design and a focus on regulatory compliance. Regulatory compliance is the process of taking the steps to comply with relevant laws, policies, and regulations that may apply to your organization. For nonprofits websites, the American’s With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are extremely important:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) helps to prohibit discrimination against individuals with disabilities. The ADA applies to any organization with 15 or more employees or is considered a “public accommodation.” A 2019 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision revealed that most websites are “public accommodations.” Your nonprofit website may actually violate the ADA if it is not accessible to those with visual, auditory, and other disabilities. The purpose of this law is to ensure that people of all abilities have the same opportunities.
  • The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) are a set of usability standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. These guidelines are often used to determine ADA compliance. While nonprofit websites are not required to comply with the WCAG, it’s definitely a worthwhile effort if you’re trying to improve and increase your online fundraising efforts.

Ensuring web accessibility and full compliance will only help your nonprofit. As you continue to improve your website now during COVID-19, make sure that any new additions and updates also meet accessibility and compliance standards.

6. Full system integrations

As mentioned above, an integrated donation tool is necessary in order to optimize online fundraising efforts and collect gifts through your nonprofit website. This way, you know that your gifts are being effectively and safely processed while collecting key fundraising data. In fact, it’s worth it to take the steps towards a full system integration with your fundraising tools and nonprofit website.

A system integration between your website/content management system, online donation tool, event management tool, marketing and communications tool, and fundraising database is your best bet to tackling online fundraising. This way, all of the fundraising and donor engagement data you track is centralized in a single location. Never again do you have to worry about duplicate profiles and incorrect donor data!

This way, you have a comprehensive view of all fundraising data and can apply key insights to improve on your efforts. Within your database, you should be able to:

  • Track key donor data
  • Compile customized reports
  • View progress in real-time

Having full access to this data is the best way to improve online fundraising efforts and make note of what you’re doing well. If a similar situation like COVID-19 affects your fundraising in the future, you now also have accurate data to refer to in order to make the best decisions moving forward.

To learn more about how you can effectively fundraise during the COVID-19 pandemic and what tools can amplify your nonprofit website, consider turning to professionals. For instance, Cornershop Creative offers nonprofit consultant help for website design, custom development, and maintenance.


It’s likely that fundraising during this time looks different for your organization. It’s important that your nonprofit website reflects that and aims to promote any alternative fundraising efforts, whether that’s a focus on online gifts or the inclusion of more virtual experiences. Hopefully, this guide has given you some tips you can use to confidently move forward. Good luck!