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Designing The Best Nonprofit Website: Header

Updated: Mar 25

Front Landing Section: Header

The out-front landing section of your nonprofit website, also known as the header, is the first thing visitors see when they arrive at your website from a search engine such as Google.


Think of your website as valuable property or land, and this section on the home page is THE most valuable real estate on your website.


The Header or front landing section is the most valuable real estate on your nonprofit website.


Imagine two identical homes, one located on waterfront property and one inland. The home on the waterfront will be significantly more valuable than the inland one, despite their similarities. The only difference is the location, yet it has a substantial impact on the price.


Similarly, not all parts of your website hold the same value. The most precious and important real estate on your website is the front landing section on the home page. This is where people land after searching for you or clicking a relevant link.


This section represents your one opportunity to make an unforgettable first impression on new donors. It should feature concise copy and images showcasing one or more happy beneficiaries of your mission. Visitors who land on this section typically have the least knowledge about you.


DO NOT OVERLOAD THIS SECTION WITH COPY. THE MORE YOU INCLUDE, THE LESS ENGAGEMENT YOU WILL RECEIVE.


This front landing section is where new donors give your nonprofit a brief three to five-second opportunity to influence them with pictures and words. In today’s information-soaked world, donors choose nonprofits based on how quickly and effectively they communicate their vision. Thus, your front landing section is absolutely the most valuable and important real estate on your website.  


On this front door incorporate elements of your vision statement, mission statement, and your concise one-liner. This section should display a visionary approach and feature professional photography of a happy beneficiary who has been positively impacted by your mission. 


What NOT to put on your header:

  • A group picture

  • A picture of your:

    • Founder

    • President

    • Staff, or

    • Building The latest announcements·     

    • 501C3 IRS tax status.

    • Building

    • Staff

    • Children, and grandchildren

  • A needy beneficiary

  • A runner at the top of a mountain

  • Multiple calls-to-action (CTAs,).

  • The pronouns we, us, our

  • The name of your organization in big bold letters


Nonprofits that outperform the rest ensure their landing section, header, focuses on clearly communicating the problem their organization solves.


In this first frame, use exceptional photography showcasing a happy beneficiary to your mission and copy that emphasizes the answer you provide. By being visionary in this frame and combining the right copy and pictures, you will captivate people and draw them into your mission. However, if executed poorly, the very individuals you are trying to establish trust with may doubt your credibility.


In this first section, include some form of your mission statement, vision statement, or one-liner.


What you should put on your header:

  • An easy-to-spot giving button

  • A picture of one happy beneficiary ("the one")

  • A CTA button for taking a next step

  • Mission & vision-oriented copy that speaks to what you want to achieve (vision) and how you intend to do it (mission)

  • LOTS of space without copy

    • The importance of whitespace cannot be overemphasized. Visitors don’t read the copy on your website; they read the space around it. In today’s information economy, the goal is to convey more with less. Nowhere is this truer than on the front section of your website. This lesson is one of the most challenging lessons for website designers to grasp. The temptation is to put an overabundance of information in this section.


Please trust me when I tell you that less is more.     


Some good examples of visionary nonprofit website headers:


  1. Omega Children Foundation Uganda

OCFuganda's nonprofit website header showing a happy student who has been fed and educated
ocfuganda.org

OCFU's header utilizes the cute factor with excellent photography and copy that quickly draws the visitor to scroll down or click a link and learn more. OCFU's nonprofit website header makes it difficult to move on without learning more.


What's good about it:

  • Not cluttered with copy

  • Utilizes "white space"

  • Excellent photography

  • A giving button is clear and in a different color

  • Does not have a menu with many cluttering buttons

  • Immediately invites readers into a beneficiary story

  • Photography that focuses on "the one"


2. Spark Thomasville


Spark Thomasville's nonprofit website header showing a happy beneficiary.
Sparkthomasville.com

Spark Thomasville's header quickly communicates its vision and how they do it (mission). Spark makes it difficult to leave without further engagement.


What's good about it:

  • LOTS of white space

  • Quickly communicates their vision and mission

  • Engagement is quickly invited with the prominent giving button and beneficiary story

  • Photo that focuses on "the one"


3. EmPowered Living International

EmPowered Living International's nonprofit website header quickly grabs your attention with an engaging photo of impact and copy.


Your nonprofit website header has ONE job: To inspire people to scroll to the next section or click to another page. This header has:

  • Visionary copy that quickly communicates their vision (what they hope to achieve) and their mission (how they intend to do it)

  • Photography that focuses on "the one"


4. House of Hope


House of Hope very quickly communicates what they hope to achieve for their beneficiaries and quickly inspires them to schedule a call. Notice:

  • Photo of "the one" beneficiary

  • Great use of white space

  • Small amount of copy

  • Easy CTA to schedule a call


5. LAMP


This header inspires donors, beneficiaries, and volunteers. Notice:

  • Small amount of copy

  • Photo of "the one" beneficiary

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