As a nonprofit, you have a cause and need the help of your audience to fulfill it. But the first step to achieving that goal is to connect with that target audience. This is not a matter of “if you build it, they will come.” You need to reach your audience proactively and find that common ground.

When you connect to your audience, your mission and your story will move them. They will feel the importance of your cause. You will find that common ground. But getting there can be a delicate process requiring empathy and a true understanding of what your audience needs. So here are a few steps to creating that connection with your audience.

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User Persona

In order to connect with your audience, you must first know who they are. User personas are key to accomplishing this. A persona is a representation of a segment of your audience, using a fictional character as a representative. These personas don’t just include demographic information such as age group, ethnicity, income, and so on. They also include the persona’s goals, pain points, and other more personal data.

It’s best to create multiple personas to get an effective visual of your entire audience. Do you struggle with getting into the minds of your audience? Keeping up a social media presence and engaging with followers can give you insight into who your audience is, as well as provide an effective visibility boost.

Use these personas as a starting point for developing the design elements of your website.

Add a Unique Touch

If you truly want to connect with your audience, you can’t look like everyone else. Design trends are always evolving and users will notice if you don’t keep up. Organizations that don’t can appear dated and out of touch at first glance. Look at some current UX design trends and use them to your advantage. Your holy grail? Personalization. Create an experience that feels tailored to every user, and you’ll have the digital connection you need.

Make Your Site Inclusive And Accessible

It’s not enough to have a flashy, personalized website that’s also mobile-friendly. You need to make sure the website reflects an inclusive mindset and is accessible to everyone – while also including the most essential elements.

Accessibility is relatively simple, and there are concrete guidelines for making it happen on your website. Fostering inclusivity is more complex. This is where your sense of empathy and understanding of your audience really comes into play.

Use A Focus Group

If you need more guidance on how to connect with your audience, or if you need to check on how you’re doing, you can enlist the help of a focus group. Focus groups are hand-picked groups of people made to represent your target audience. They are a staple in market research. Hiring one can help you determine whether you connect with your target audience, and how to get there if you’re not. Like in your social media interactions, the key is to interact with the focus group and take their feedback into account.

You can incorporate feedback from the focus group into one of many methods of user testing, like affinity mapping or surveys. A paper prototype can also help with testing the design and user experience.

Further reading and resources:

  1. Create a DIY Nonprofit Persona with this Template
  2. UX Design Trends that Can’t Be Ignored
  3. 8 Most Important Elements Every Nonprofit Website Should Include
  4. Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1d
  5. The Role of Empathy in UX Design
  6. DIY User Testing: Affinity Mapping
  7. DIY User Testing: Surveys
  8. DIY User Testing: Paper Prototype