Designing and building a StoryBrand nonprofit website doesn't have to be complicated.
In this post, we're here to show you:
- The two different types of nonprofit Brandscripts
- How to get your nonprofit Brandscript right
- Examples of a few good StoryBrand nonprofit websites
- And, the best practices for creating a donations page that increases donations
Why use the StoryBrand Framework for your nonprofit messaging?
As powerful as the StoryBrand Framework is for businesses, it is as useful for nonprofits.
Before we look at a few StoryBrand website examples for nonprofits, you'll want to make sure you have your nonprofit Brandscript tight.
The two types of nonprofit StoryBrand Brandscripts
1. Mission-based Brandscript
The mission-based script tells the story of the work your nonprofit does, the injustice it fights, the people you help. The character is the individual or people who are experiencing injustice.
2. Donor-based Brandscript
The other is a donor-based Brandscript, where you invite your supporters (the hero) into the mission, where they get to impact the world.
Which Brandscript direction should your nonprofit choose?
Both the mission-based and donor-based are effective. You can use both in different situations, but don't mix the two on the same page; you'll end up with a foggy message.
For example, you could use a mission-based Brandscript on your home page while using a donor-based script on your donation page.
It's best to have both types and test them on different pages of your website and marketing channels.
- A/B test of your home page content
- Run A/B Google Adword campaigns testing your copy and landing page
- A/B test your donation pages
If you're subscribed to Business Made Simple, check out the StoryBrand Framework module, under Core Concept, where Donald Miller goes into greater detail between the two and creating a nonprofit Brandscript.
How to get your nonprofit Brandscript right?
Just as profit businesses waste money on websites and marketing that doesn't work, nonprofits are guilty of it, too.
Potential donors have the same short attention span on websites. Remember, you have 3 to 5 seconds to tell people what you do, why it matters, and how they can become part of the change you want to make.
How do you know you have the right messaging for your nonprofit?
To get your Storybrand messaging right, you can work with a certified Storybrand guide like myself or do it with your team.
If you choose to do it with the help of a Storybrand Guide, that takes away hours of frustration.
If you and your team want to take a crack at it, here's how:
Learn the 7-Part Framework
- You can have each member of your team read Donald Miller's StoryBrand book.
- You can sign up for Business Made Simple and go through the 7-part messaging course by Donald Miller.
Once you have a good grasp of the Framework:
- Select a facilitator on your team
- Set at least half a day of uninterrupted time with your team
- Use the Mystorybrand.com digital worksheet and go through the questions. You'll want to ask the right questions to help you think through the right messaging. You can find a series of questions here.
Examples of a few good StoryBrand nonprofit websites
Let's look at a few Storybrand nonprofit website examples - you'll find a mix of both types of brand scripts along with what we like and what you can learn from each.
What we love:
- Clear Call to action
- A concise and clear statement of what they do
- Good use of testimonials from supporters
- PCC Friends uses real-life photos rather than stock images that show the preciousness and beauty of their mission-based Brandscript.
What you can learn:
- Be clear and concise about the problem your nonprofit is fighting
- Keep your Brandscript on the home page consistent with either donor or mission-based, but don't mix them
New Story Charity
What we love: The clear and concise headline and beautiful imagery
What you can learn: With beautiful photography and video, you don't need a complicated website design. You can add more impact to your message with relevant visuals that showcase the transformation of your nonprofit. Hire a lifestyle/documentary photographer to capture the impact your charity is making.
If you're a regular listener of the StoryBrand podcast, then in episode #189, you may have heard how Rescue Freedom uses the Storybrand framework across all their communication.
What we love: A well crafted donor-based Brandscript. Rescue Freedom invites donors right into the story and shows how a donor can impact the lives of victims of slavery worldwide.
What you can learn: Don't mix mission-based and donor-based brand script on the same page.
International Justice Mission
What we love: An uncluttered menu bar (Slavery today, Our work, Stories) and their main donation call to action button.
What you can learn: Review your menu bar. Can some of the secondary links and sections be moved to your footer navigation bar?
What we love: If you've downloaded and read our free guide, "7 Costly Mistakes That Are Costing You Business," you know the power of headline copy. World Concern makes it clear what you're able to accomplish if you choose to support their nonprofit: "You can make an immediate impact in the life of a child for only 44¢.”
Also, we love how they naturally use the Storybrand one-liner formula on their specific donation pages (more on this below).
What you can learn: On each of their campaign-specific donation pages, World Concern follows the Storybrand one-liner framework of Problem/Solution/Result. The one-liner ensures supporters understand what's at stake, what can be done, and what success will look like through the donors' impact.
Reformation Bible College
Though RBC's site doesn't follow the traditional 7-part Storybrand Framework, the site does a few things really well, from which we all can learn.
What we love: Their homepage speaks to three different student aspirations. They do this well with their "Prepare for Work," "Prepare for Ministry," and "Prepare for Seminary or Graduate School." We call this helping your hero imagine what success looks like.
What you can learn: Sometimes the best lessons are from the mistakes others make. Check out the "Give" campaign page on Reformation Bible College; while the copy is well written and the page has beautiful visuals, it's missing the all-important main Call to Action to donate or give button at the top.
Another good rule of thumb is that you want to break long paragraphs into shorter sentences and more bullets.
If you're running a specific campaign project, don't forget to highlight what the projects’ needs are and be sure to test your campaign page with a progress bar to show how close the campaign is to reaching its goal.
Charity Water is the standard most nonprofits are trying to reach in terms of impact, communication, and storytelling in the nonprofit world. Rightfully so, forCharity Water effectively checks all boxes for how to invite others into a compelling story worth fighting for.
What we love: Data! Above all other charities, Charity Water does a fantastic job of using data to tell a story. Instead of a typical impact page that over communicates, Charity Water chooses two key metrics to highlight the impact their community is having.
First, they clearly state the problem where 785 million people lack basic access to clean water. That's the mission.
Then, they establish authority and trust, with the number of water projects funded and the number of people served. That's it. Two numbers to measure the impact donors are making.
What you can learn: Don't use data for data's sake but use data to distill it down to points that future donors understand.
How to improve your donation page conversion
According to M+R's 2018 benchmark report, 83% of all donation page visitors leave without giving.
There is a great opportunity for nonprofits to drive donation conversion by rethinking their donation page strategy.
Here are three ways you can improve your nonprofits’ donation conversion
1. Single or Multiple Donation Pages?
Do you have one or multiple donation pages?
Which is better?
From experience, to help drive significant donations, nonprofits need to have at least two donation pages.
- General donation page - this is your go-to donation page for general funds
- Campaign specific - individual campaigns
Why does this work?
This is now a common best practice across many leading nonprofits, for good reasons.
- Provides supporters to get involved in different ways
- You’ll drive more support for specific campaigns vs than a general donation page
- On campaign specific, you can experiment with specific content, a countdown clock, or gamify with progress bar
- You’ll have a main donation page that has lower friction points i.e. no need for additional drop down where to allocate donation to.
2. Make this one small change for drastic improvement
Sometimes the most significant improvements are from subtle but essential tweaks. Take an experiment conducted by NextAfter.com.
By removing the links in the main navigation, including the Call to Action button to 'donate,’they saw a 195% increase in a donation in their experiment.
Why does this work?
Someone who clicked to donate shouldn't be confused by another "donate" button on the donation page, they're already there.
You only need your logo on the header of your donation page. Bonus tip: if your nonprofit website runs on WordPress, you can achieve this with the Conditional Menu plugin.
3. Experiment with the following key elements on your Donations Page
Here are the key elements that could help give you a lift to your conversion:
- Your headline and subheading copy
- The main image on your donation page
- The intro copy (paragraph vs bullet points)
- Your copy length (long vs short)
- The elements of trust (% of your donation goes to the actual cause, any 3rd party verification body, testimonials)
- Showing the impact of various donation amounts, i.e. what does a $50 donation enable?
- Donation box - reduce number of field boxes, remove decision friction questions (see Tearfund)
The examples we've outlined here work for many successful nonprofits, and they might work for you, too.
Overall, they're great starting points as your nonprofit moves forward with using StoryBrand to improve its messaging and marketing.
If you apply or test any of these suggestions, please let me know; I'd love to learn about your findings.
To your success!
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