29 Trust Factors For Nonprofits
If you’re just getting started one of the biggest challenges for your nonprofit needs to overcome is establishing credibility. Given that you may not be personally interacting with many donors your credibility has to be established with your online presence, specifically your website.
BJ Fogg is one of the worlds leading researchers on web credibility. He said that web credibility is about making your website come across as trustworthy and knowledgeable. You’re website is usually the first point of contact for your donors so it’s responsible for first impressions. You all know the expression – you only get one chance to make a first impression.
If your website is seen to be credible by your donors, people will trust what it says, feel more comfortable about sharing their personal data and feel more confident about contacting you or spending money.
So let’s work through a checklist of things that impact the credibility of your website:
1. Web design matters. People do judge a book by its cover and they will judge your website by its design. If you are not a designer then you need to use templates that were created by designers or you need to hire a designer. The reality is that the more attractive the design the greater feeling of trustworthiness and professionalism in the minds of your audience.
2. Make your address and phone number visible. You should at least include it in the footer because everybody is expecting to see it in the footer. Of course, you can also add it to the header or sidebar.
3. Make it easy to contact you. Include a link to a contact form in the navigation menu. People usually look for it at the end of the menu. Websites that have no contact methods are suspicious.
4. Message relevance. When somebody arrives at your website they will be looking for signs that indicate that they’re in the right place. Don’t just send everybody to the homepage. Try to make sure that the initial content that anybody sees is relevant to whatever it is they were looking for.
5. Spelling and grammar. The occasional error is not a problem however anything more than that is a big problem. Also keep in mind that people have some tolerance for spelling and grammatical errors in blog posts but they have zero tolerance for errors in sales copy in places like your homepage.
6. Simple language. People have to understand you. If you know your customer well you should know how much assumed knowledge to include in your content. If you don’t know your customer it will be difficult for you to communicate in the language they’re expecting. If you “don’t speak their language” they will think you’re not legit.
7. Link to external sites that reference you. If you’re just getting started you can ignore this for now. If you do happen to have articles written about you or your organization in the media or in any website that has any authority you should link to them. People are always more interested in what other people think of you rather than what you think of yourself.
8. Include bios and photos. Regardless of whether you’re a team or a one-person nonprofit working from home, you should present bios and photos of yourself and the team.
9. Office photos. If you do happen to have a real office with real people you should show it off. Take a picture of it from the outside and the inside and put them on your website.
10. Don’t use stock photos that look like stock photos. Nothing looks more ridiculous than a smiling customer service person with a headset or two men wearing suits and shaking hands.
11. Visible return and refund policies (if applicable). You only see this on credible websites. You never see it on questionable websites.
12. Email policy. People want to know what you will do with their email address if they give it to you. Will you rent, share it, sell it, spam them?
13. Big statements or claims must be backed up. People are more likely to trust you if you provide evidence from independent parties, neutral experts, or scientific studies.
14. Don’t use superlatives.
15. Detailed product information. Make sure that you’re actually providing sufficient information for the customer to be able to make a decision.
16. Show your client list. This is obviously sensitive because most clients don’t want to be mentioned publicly but if you can get permission to use a client’s name on your website it will help you get more clients. Potential donors always want to see examples of donors that are similar to them feeling good about their experience. It’s an indication that they’re in the right place. Social proof leads to revenue.
17. Mention the number of donors. If you have an impressive number of donors go ahead and mention it on your website. It’s another form of social proof.
18. Partnerships. Mention any partnerships, alliances, or associations with people or organizations that have high credibility. People always assume that these kinds of associations can only happen after a lot of due diligence. Some prospects don’t want to waste time doing due diligence on you so they look for evidence of due diligence from somebody else that they trust.
19. Use testimonials. Most people assume they’re fake and in some cases, they don’t make any difference but it’s still better to have them not to have to them.
20. Case studies of your work. This is a great way to show examples of how you approach various situations. It helps potential donors understand the impact of your work.
21. Customer reviews. People do trust customer reviews from some sources. Amazon is a good example. If you have real reviews from a trusted source include them on your website.
22. Secure online payments. If you accept credit cards online tell your donors that you’re using the best available online payment security protocols.
23. Include a trust mark. You often see these next to the payment form.
24. If your website doesn’t have a blog, create one. It helps you in two ways. The first is that people can see that your site is frequently updated. Secondly, it provides information that demonstrates your expertise. If you don’t like writing you can create videos on a YouTube channel or Podcast episodes and embed them into your website.
25. Recommendations. If you can convince somebody that has authority in your niche to provide a recommendation then add it to your website. At this point, you should be seeing a trend. People want to know what other people think of you not what you think of yourself.
26. Include a jobs page. Only real companies are hiring people.
27. Make sure everything works. Dead links and forms that don’t work correctly diminish your credibility.
28. Use social media. You can get away with using one social media platform but it needs to contain fresh content. Some people think that a dormant social presence equals a dormant nonprofit.
29. No blinking banners for anything that looks like hype.
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