Nonprofit Websites are Evolving: New Trends to Watch in 2024

Nonprofit websites, like all businesses online, are constantly evolving. It’s not simply because of the evolution of technology, though that is a factor. Customer behavior is a big factor in how we present ourselves. Like creating the perfect storefront to attract attention or crafting the best news headline for the morning paper, our websites have tremendous sway. And yet, we seldom change that storefront. We expect that what has worked in the past will continue to work.

“Trends to Watch” may not be the appropriate title because while some of these are trends, some may become best practices and expectations. Take “Responsive Websites” as an example. I remember when this was a buzzword that you would find everywhere. Today, if your website is still not responsive to different device sizes, you’ve been left behind. The search engines will demote your website, users will quickly navigate away, and your business, nonprofit or otherwise, will suffer.

People passing by your digital door today have different opinions, options, and opportunities. What are you offering?

Is your nonprofit embracing technology investments?

Here’s the scoop on what’s happening around you. In 2024, many nonprofits will focus on technology investments and AI implementation, ensuring responsible use policies balance technology and community needs. This involves preparing for generative AI and machine learning to enhance their operations while adhering to ethical standards and community values. Giving Compass points out that “The stakes for getting AI governance right are high.”

Enhancing the Giving Experience on Nonprofit Websites

Donations are an area of nonprofit websites that we tend to pay more attention to at CauseLabs. It’s rarely a set-it-and-forget-it feature. We evaluate if the form is too long. We assess if the information is mapping from the nonprofit websites to the right places (CRMs, email notifications, donor receipts, etc.) However, there have been a growing number of other considerations. For example, what types of donations are you accepting?

  1. Modern Payment Methods: Venmo is increasingly growing in popularity for donation processes, offering a special fee structure for nonprofits: a 1.9% rate plus $0.10 per transaction. This cost-effectiveness and the waived credit card fee for donors make Venmo appealing, although it doesn’t support international donations or recurring payments (Venmo, Merchant Maverick).
  2. Donor Portals: These portals centralize donor data, streamline communication, and encourage recurring donations. They offer real-time donation tracking, sophisticated reporting tools, and integration with other fundraising tools, enhancing donor engagement and fundraising efficiency (WeGive). Some can integrate seamlessly into your WordPress website.
  3. Asset-Based Donations: Recognizing the significance of stocks and non-cash assets as donation options is becoming increasingly important for nonprofits. This trend reflects a broader understanding of the diverse nature and impact of potential contributions.
  4. Intimate Events: Smaller, more personal events are proving effective for deeper donor engagement and connection. These events allow for a more tailored approach to fundraising, fostering a sense of community and shared purpose among supporters.
  5. Modernizing Fundraising Strategies: The transition of offline donors to online platforms through tools like QR codes is a growing trend. This modernization is key to reaching a wider audience and adapting to changing donor behaviors and preferences.

Implementing Key Web Design Trends

Nonprofit websites are moving beyond established web design trends like responsive design, engaging content, and UX design to explore more innovative approaches. Here, donors could see the projects they invested in, get updates, see quarterly reports, manage their donation subscriptions, launch peer-to-peer campaigns, and get their year-end tax receipts.

Streamlining Donor Communications

Many nonprofits are treating donors like investors, focusing on impact communication, positioning themselves as sources of truth, and emphasizing personal connections. One of our partners built an investor portal for their donors and the annual reports show the overall progress as well as impact stories related to the specific projects the donor chose to support.

Focusing on Nonprofiteer Trends

Nonprofit websites in 2024 are also emphasizing:

  • Automation: Streamlining operations for efficiency. Users of your website don’t always notice these changes as they happen behind the scenes. However, it can impact user experience as well as the administration of the data and the website. Lately, there is a lot of talk about AI and yes, this can help streamline operations and offer more user-driven, personalized experiences when well implemented. However, good old-fashioned integrations and automations with robust data sets can also get you further without having to dive into the latest with AI.
  • Snowball Effect: Emphasizing small, incremental donations can help donors stay connected to your mission. In turn, share progress to help them feel like true supporters. Lower donation amounts are often easier to gain, but the long term value of a donor is priceless because they often also give their time, talent and become advocates for your cause. While these donation subscriptions are smaller, they can certainly add up and can help your organization adapt to challenges and pressures at times when donor activity may typically be lower. Your revenue stream can start to become more consistent throughout the year and allow your team to maintain a balanced work-life environment (Funraise).
  • Community Involvement: Strengthening connections with local communities. This isn’t a new trend. We’ve built several nonprofit websites that were membership sites dating back to 2012. Technology has evolved since then making some things easier. The evolution of user behaviors continues to make it more complex. Given our decade of work on membership sites, our advice is not to overcomplicate it unless you need to for the sake of progress. Don’t reinvent the wheel unless you’re embarking on an R&D innovation to solve a complex problem.
  • Employee Retention: Focusing on keeping a committed and skilled workforce. This is an area where AI can help, but it often scares our team into thinking their roles will become obsolete. There are many ways to integrate automation and AI to enhance (not replace) the value of your individual team members. With a workforce that is motivated by purpose and doing more good, upskilling and easing their workload will likely open doors for other creative opportunities to make a difference.

What’s next for your nonprofit website?

Explore how these trends can enhance your nonprofit’s online presence. If you’re investing in these changes in 2024, consider CauseLabs as your web partner. We pride ourselves in being a strategic partner to help steward your investments.

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