Blog Design Best Practices for Nonprofits FacebookYour nonprofit could have a wide variety of excellent blog content, but if your blog’s design doesn’t make a positive first impression, then few will read it – much less share it with their followers on social networks. The same is true with website and web articles. Today’s fast-scanning Internet users need online content that is visually appealing and easy to read on desktop and mobile devices, and they have little patience with poorly designed blog and web content.

A decade ago a nonprofit could get by with winging it online and use the low-overhead excuse for poor online communications (we spend no money on marketing!), but not today. Your credibility is judged harshly if you can’t communicate your nonprofit’s success stories in a professional, visually compelling, modern format.

1.  Select a two-column, responsively designed template.

A blog template with a body column width of 600 pixels and a call-to-action column of 300 pixels in width is ideal. First, the body text column is wide enough to feature photos and large font. Second, the call-to-action column provides ample space to feature your nonprofit’s most important calls-to-action. And of course, your blog should be responsively designed so that it is easy to read and scroll on mobile devices.

Mercy Corps

Mercy Corps Blog

2. Prominently featured a “Donate” button, e-newsletter opt-in, and social network icons.

It’s very rare to find a nonprofit blog that has strategically designed their call-to-action column to include a “Donate” button, e-newsletter opt-in, and social network icons. Nonprofits use social media and email to drive traffic to their blog and its a lost opportunity to not try and convert blog visitors into donors, e-newsletter subscribers, and social network followers.


 Defenders of Wildlife Blog

3. Feature and rotate promotional graphics.

Think of your call-to-action column as free advertising space. Create and rotate on a regular basis promotional graphics for publications, special events, volunteer recruitment programs, special fundraising campaigns, etc.

Next City Blog

Next City Blog

4. Use large font for headlines and body text.

To accommodate today’s Internet users, at minimum your headlines should be 18 point and your body text 13 point. Your stories should be as easy to read as possible.

Heifer International Blog

Heifer International Blog

5. Insert large photos that encompass the width the blog post.

Increasingly “reading” blogs is a mobile, scrolling, skimming experience, so its very important that your blog posts prioritize visuals. Information overload requires online content creators to package their content effectively. Also, having large photos ensures that your content is more visually compelling thus shareable on social media.

Conservation International Blog 1

Conservation International Blog 2

Conservation International Blog

6. Embed large call-to-action buttons within posts.

Now that social media and email is predominantly a mobile experience – and thus your blog readers are mobile, it’s crucial to create large, tappable call-to-action buttons to embed inside blog posts (and e-newsletters), such as “Donate Now, Sign Petition, Subscribe” buttons. Only a handful of nonprofits are currently doing this, so it’s a quick, simple way to stand out from other blogs (and e-newsletters).

Oxfam Blog

Oxfam International Blog

7. Invest in well-designed graphics.

Again, your blog must make a good first impression or people won’t take it seriously. If your staff is not adept at graphic design, then hire a graphic designer to create a blog banner and call-to-action column graphics.

amnesty blog

Amnesty International Blog

8. Enable social sharing.

A social sharing plugin empowers readers to easily share your blog posts on social networks. It is also gives you, the blogger, an idea of how popular a blog topic is based upon the number of shares it receives. This helps you become a better blogger by knowing which topics your readers are most interested in.

heart blog

American Heart Association Blog

9. Enable social comments.

Using a service like Disqus or Facebook’s Comment Plugin allows blog readers to easily comment using their social network logins and because it requires commenters to be their real selves, social commenting weeds out potential trolls.

one blog

ONE Blog

10. Ensure that your blog is hosted within your website.

Search engines heavily prioritize fresh content and since blogs are date stamped they can rank high in search engine results. Keywords in blog titles also help your nonprofit’s search engine optimization and if your blog is embedded within your website, then the SEO of your website is significantly enhanced.

earthjustice blog

Earthjustice Blog

Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits

mobile for good look insideBased on more than 20 years of experience and 25,000+ hours spent utilizing mobile and social media, Mobile for Good: A How-To Fundraising Guide for Nonprofits is a comprehensive 256-page book packed with more than 500 best practices. Written on the premise that all communications and fundraising are now mobile and social, Mobile for Good is a step-by-step how-to guide for writing, implementing, and maintaining a mobile and social fundraising strategy for your nonprofit.