Your nonprofit’s website is an essential part of your marketing and fundraising strategy. It not only provides a wealth of information for supporters to learn about your organization, but it also allows them to get involved with your mission by donating online, registering for events, signing up to volunteer, and more.

When you create or redesign your website, the first aspect you consider is most likely its visual look. The visuals you use should draw your audience in so they understand your nonprofit’s cause and are inspired to get involved. However, you also need to balance aesthetics with accessibility in your design to ensure all supporters can effectively engage with your site.

In this guide, we’ll discuss how to use color to strike this balance. Informed color choices should bring meaning to your site without sacrificing accessibility. We’ll cover the following topics to guide your online color selection:

  • Choosing Colors for Your Nonprofit Website
  • The Importance of Nonprofit Website Accessibility
  • 4 Tips to Ensure Color Accessibility on Your Nonprofit’s Website

As Loop’s page on nonprofit website design puts it, “nonprofit websites build communities of support for the intangible causes that create positive change in the world.” Accomplishing this purpose effectively requires that you make your website representative of your organization and inclusive of all supporters. Let’s get started!

Choosing Colors for Your Nonprofit Website

A consistent color scheme is not only essential for a well-designed website, but it’s also an element of a strong nonprofit brand identity. While there is no set number of colors your organization can include in its color palette, most brands use one or two core colors and a few secondary shades that complement each other. By going this route, your nonprofit’s website will showcase a bit of  visual variety while appearing as a cohesive representation of your organization’s identity. 

Additionally, you’ll want to consider color psychology to inform your brand color selection. People naturally associate certain colors with ideas and feelings, and you can use these associations to express your nonprofit’s values and personality. For example:

  • Red is often linked to health-related causes because of its associations with passion, strength, and urgency.
  • Yellow is associated with warmth, happiness, and optimism, so it’s often used by organizations that focus on creative expression or children’s education.
  • Green has connections to nature, growth, and prosperity, making it a favorite of environmental and sustainability-focused nonprofits.
  • Blue can represent a range of ideas such as tranquility, trust, professionalism, and wisdom. Unsurprisingly, it’s used by a wide variety of nonprofits, from water conservation groups to faith-based organizations to social services providers.
  • Black is typically used by organizations in bold, serious verticals such as social justice or wildlife conservation.

No matter what brand colors you choose, the best way to ensure consistency in your color palette across your entire website is to create a digital style guide for your organization. In this document, include both the names of your brand colors and their specific hex codes (for example, “cherry red” could have the hex code #D2042D or #CD001A). This way, you can input the codes into any graphic design tool you use to create website content and get the exact same shades every time.

The Importance of Nonprofit Website Accessibility

At its core, accessible design ensures that all audiences can fully utilize and gain value from your nonprofit’s website. Although following accessibility guidelines creates a better overall user experience, your primary focus should be making your website accessible for supporters with disabilities. Accessible design is not just a nonprofit website design best practice—it has also increasingly become a legal issue since it falls under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

However, avoiding lawsuits shouldn’t be your only motivation for designing an accessible website. You’ll also be able to engage your audience more effectively, making it easier to retain supporters over time.

While many areas of your website design can be optimized for accessibility, one of the most important is your use of colors.

4 Tips to Ensure Color Accessibility on Your Nonprofit’s Website

Color accessibility allows supporters who experience color blindness or have low vision to gain value from the text and images on your website. It’s also helpful for website visitors who may be viewing your website on an older device with low resolution.

To ensure color accessibility on your nonprofit’s website, try these tips:

  • Create adequate contrast between text and background colors. The most recent version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommends a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for regular website copy and 3:1 for headers to ensure all text is readable. There are online tools you can use to check the contrast of each page of your website.
  • Use color overlays for text on photos and videos. Photos and videos tend to create an unevenly colored background for text written over them. Color overlays eliminate this problem and ensure all text has the recommended contrast ratio.
  • Indicate button hover effects through size changes or movement. It’s popular to design the buttons on online donation pages and registration forms to undergo a visual change when a website visitor hovers their cursor over them. However, this change won’t be as effective in encouraging audiences to interact with the button if it’s only indicated through color—instead, change the button’s size or animate the text on it.
  • Use color and underlining to denote hyperlinks. Most websites indicate clickable text by making it a different color from the surrounding copy. While this can be useful for some website visitors, ensure hyperlinked text is also underlined to make it stand out for all audiences.

While color accessibility is most often discussed in the context of websites, it’s applicable to all elements of your nonprofit’s communications strategy. For instance, color overlays can be helpful when creating videos for social media as well as your website, and the above tips on hyperlinks and button hover effects also apply to email marketing. And color accessibility doesn’t stop at digital marketing—NXUnite also recommends checking the color contrast of print fundraising flyers to maximize readability.

Both color choice and accessibility are important aspects of nonprofit website design on their own. However, considering them together helps ensure your site is both aesthetically pleasing and usable for all audiences. Reference ADA guidelines, the WCAG checklist, and your nonprofit’s digital style guide to design your website for color accessibility and consistency.

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