By Kari Jolly, Tax Associate | Not-for-Profit Team
Leverage your not-for-profit website to provide easy access to required public information
We all know that today’s information stream is driven by Internet search engines and online media. For many businesses, including Not-For-Profit (NFP) organizations, the first step to connecting with an end user is through a public website. For a tax-exempt entity, the value of a well-designed website goes beyond connecting with the public about their mission and achievements. Organizations governed by 501(a), 501(c), and 501(d) of the Internal Revenue Code are required to provide the public with access to certain information, including annual reporting returns and applications for exempt status. A public website can be an efficient tool for achieving compliance with those regulations.
what are some characteristics of an effective Not-for-Profit website?
- First and foremost – keep it simple.
Users need to be able to access the information they need through the fewest number of clicks. Links to required publications should be prominently displayed on the website’s main page and take the user directly to the destined information.
- The key to achieving suggestion #1 is organization. Organize your website in a way that users can logically and efficiently navigate your content. Your homepage should be welcoming and friendly, with high-quality imagery, an appealing font, an easy-to-find search button and maybe even a prominent “join” or “donate” button.
- Keep it current and relevant.
Determine what items must be available for public inspection and post timely updates. For the exempt organization, these items include the application for exemption (Form 1023), annual information returns (at least three years of Forms in the 990 series [excluding Schedule B], including 990-T). You may also want to share your determination letter from the IRS. Beyond what is required, decide what information you want to make widely available and make sure it stays fresh.
- Shine a spotlight on your organization’s achievements and inspire public engagement!
Be specific and quantify results whenever possible. How many scholarships were given or pints of blood donated? How many acres of rain forest were saved or animals were rescued? Information like this helps users understand how the organization prioritizes its activities and utilizes its resources.
- Make it mobile.
Today’s Internet users are just as likely to be accessing content through a smart phone or similar mobile device as they are from a PC. The best web designs are those that prioritize ease of utility for mobile users.
A public website is an efficient means by which to reach your audience and share content. Investing the energy needed to make sure your website is on-brand and on-message is important to your organization’s distinction in today’s busy marketplace.
Read on to learn more:
Keiter’s not-for-profit team works with numerous not-for-profit organizations that are leveraging technology to grow their organization. Questions on how technology can help your not-for-profit? Contact us. We’re here to help. NFP Team | Email | 804.747.0000
About the Author
The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is current as of the date published. Online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional accountant, as this article is not a substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional accountant.