When it comes to the not-for-profit sphere, most of the promotional material and websites are created by people who are volunteering their time to the project, which often means that they are quite low budget. After all, these organisations are run by people who want to help those who are less fortunate, so they don’t really have a lot of money to spend on a professional. If you work in web design and you have offered to help for a small fee or even for free, however, these tips will prove invaluable.

How Not-For-Profit Differs To Commercial Work

Providing that you’re doing it right, not-for-profit projects actually don’t differ from commercial ones all that much. The same basic web design principles still apply and you are still selling something to your users. In these sorts of projects, you’re selling a cause and you’re selling a reason for people to send money to those who are less fortunate. Not-for-profit work can actually be a little harder than commercial, as selling without a direct benefit (for the user) is very difficult and you are relying on their compassion.

  • State your goals upfront
    When it comes to not-for-profit organisations, transparency will actually be vital to your success. You want users to understand at first glance what it is you do and what you need from them. In a maximum of three sentences, you need to cover – who you’re helping, how you’re helping them and how the user can help you. The rest of the content on the site is only there to support these statements.
  • Tell an engaging story
    You want your users to identify with the people that you’re trying to help, as this will encourage them to donate. To achieve this, you will need to tell them a story that they cannot ignore – take them down into the darkest places, through the pain and then out the other side. When the user is feeling very empathetic towards the plight of these people, tell them that they can change the story and this is how.
  • Use photos of actual people
    When working on not-for-profit web design, one of the worst things that you can do is use stock photographs of people. This can actually make the organisation look like a scam. You should also avoid using photos of the volunteers and administrators, except for on the About Us page. Staged photos are almost as bad and should be avoided, too. You just cannot beat real individuals who have real needs.

The biggest difference that you will probably notice between not-for-profit and commercial projects is dealing with the clients. Whilst the representatives from not-for-profit organisations are usually nice people with the best intentions, they can quite often be very opinionated – especially if you’re doing the web design for free. Many people find that clients who are getting free work are actually more demanding than the clients who are paying you a bucket load. Whilst this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help, a discount is fine.