3 Things to Know About Building an Advocacy Website

3 Things to Know About Building an Advocacy Website

This is a guest post contributed by Ira Horowitz at Cornershop Creative. 

Whether you’re a nonprofit professional with years of experience or a new volunteer for a grassroots-level community group, you know that successful advocacy efforts depend on your group’s ability to mobilize its supporters. The more voices you have calling for change related to your specific cause, the more likely you are to be heard by the stakeholders who hold the power to create that change. 

In order to involve as many people as possible in your advocacy campaign, you’ll need the help of a mission-critical resource: an advocacy website. A well-designed website can serve many purposes, from helping you to market your cause and secure donations to hosting educational resources your fellow advocates need to take action for your cause. 

Designing (or revamping) an advocacy website can feel like a daunting task, especially if you’re new to the world of web design. But luckily, with the right tips and tools, you can get your own website up and running in no time, driving more awareness for your cause. 

In this post, we’ll walk you through three things you should know about creating an eye-catching website for your advocacy organization. These tips will help you approach the process with confidence and an eye to your larger advocacy goals. Let’s dive in. 

1. You’ll need the help of a powerful website builder. 

The first step in building an advocacy website is choosing which website builder (also known as a content management system or CMS) you’ll use. There are a number of popular options to choose from, like Squarespace, HubSpot, Drupal, and our favorite, WordPress. 

WordPress is one of the most popular website builders out there, with 37% of all websites on the internet using it, as of 2021. And there are definitely some perks that come with using such a popular platform. According to Cornershop Creative’s guide to WordPress for nonprofits, “WordPress has a vast community support network of web developers, consultants, and experts in troubleshooting technical issues. If you run into any trouble while building your website…help is just a Google search away.” 

On top of an extensive community of users to lean on, WordPress is a user-friendly platform that allows you to build the site you want without extensive coding experience. 

WordPress also offers users the chance to create a highly-customized website. With a large library of themes and templates available, you can choose a pre-built layout to build your site on, customizing it with your organization’s brand elements as you go. For example, you might customize your chosen theme with the color scheme your nonprofit uses, or your political organization’s logo and imagery style. 

WordPress is a great website builder for organizations looking to take the design of their website into their own hands. But if you want to pass off the process of WordPress website development to a professional, be sure to partner with a website design agency that specializes in WordPress and understands the needs of an organization like yours. They can help you take customization and functionality to the next level and be a long-term source of support for ongoing site maintenance and troubleshooting. 

2. Your site can serve as the hub for essential resources. 

Once you have the look of your website ironed out, it’s time to populate it with useful content. Not sure what content to add? Start by stepping into your target audience’s shoes. Think through what you would want to know if you landed on your organization’s website without knowing anything about your campaign or organization. 

You can also take some inspiration from this list of popular types of advocacy website content: 

  • Educational Resources: Your nonprofit should clearly lay out the cause you’re advocating for and how website visitors can get involved in your campaign. Many organizations choose to include introductory information about their causes on an “About Us” or “Our Mission” page. You should also offer resources your visitors can use to take action, such as how-to guides for writing to their representatives or participating in canvassing. 
  • Donation Form: Your work is powered by donations, so you should have a fully-optimized donation form. Ensure that your donation form is short, quick, and convenient to fill out. Keep the questions to a minimum, and mark any bonus questions as “optional.” Your donation form should also give donors the option to enroll in your membership program and empower them to check their matching gift eligibility using a matching gift database
  • Blog: A blog allows you to keep your campaign’s supporters informed and up-to-date on your progress. Use it to highlight why your cause matters, call for action, and celebrate milestones. It’s also a great place to give shout-outs to the team members, donors, and volunteers who are pushing your mission forward. 
  • Events Pages: Events can drum up a lot of interest in your advocacy work, so they should have a prominent place on your website. Build out events pages where you can provide your community with event details like date and time, dress code, and registration information. For example, if you’re hosting a 5K fundraiser, you’ll want to provide supporters with information about the race course, waiver requirements, and registration fees. Also, consider using an exportable calendar tool so your supporters can seamlessly add your events to their digital calendars.

If you’re working with a nonprofit web design company, they can help you build out the resources on your website. With their perspective on design, they can help you decide how best to feature your resources in a way that will get your website visitors engaging with them while still maintaining smooth navigation and top-notch functionality.

3. Accessibility is vital for increased involvement. 

The goal of your advocacy work is to get a lot of people backing your cause and advocating for change. So, the last thing you want to do is unintentionally shut out an entire group of people. This is where web accessibility comes into play. 

Optimizing your website for accessibility is the process of ensuring that people of all abilities can navigate your site and take advantage of the resources you provide. It may sound like this would require a lot of extra effort on your part, but in reality, by making your website accessible, you’re only doing your cause a favor by expanding your potential audience. 

Here are a few ways you or your designer can boost the accessibility of your site: 

  • Ensure that the colors used on your site have a high-contrast ratio for an easy reading experience. 
  • Use legible fonts—sans serif fonts are preferable. 
  • Add alt-text to all images (unless they are solely decorative) so that they can be “read” by screen readers, filling in the gaps in the reading experience for visitors who can’t see the images. 
  • Provide captions or transcripts on multimedia elements like audio recordings or videos. 

For a more in-depth look at accessibility, explore the web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) guidelines created by the World Wide Web Consortium. You can also get an idea of how well your web pages are optimized for accessibility by using Google Lighthouse, which will give individual pages an accessibility score out of 100 and offer general suggestions for improvement. 

Successful advocacy relies on a large community committed to your cause, and one of the best ways to grow your community and provide them with the tools they need to further your work is to create an advocacy website. 

Use these three tips to get started building an advocacy website that your organization can rely on and use to see its goals through to the finish line. You’ve got this!

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