Why having multiple websites could be hurting your nonprofit

It’s important to have the right tools for your audience to support your cause, but the way those tools are organised is more important - or detrimental - than you think.

As a nonprofit organisation, your online presence is more crucial than ever for attracting donors, volunteers, and supporters.

In Australia, over 40% of people who donate, do so online. This percentage continues to grow each year. 

It’s important to have the right tools for your audience to learn about and support your cause, but the way those tools are organised is more important - or detrimental - than you think.

Digital islands

The most common and avoidable pitfall in the nonprofit sector is the prevalence of ‘digital islands’. A digital island is a standalone website (separate from an organisation's main website) that exists due to capability gaps with the organisations primary digital web environment. Common examples include: 

  • External donation sites 
  • External peer-to-peer fundraising platforms 
  •  External event ticketing or registration sites 

Digital islands create a number of problems that can hurt a nonprofit’s ability to achieve their digital goals.

Audience leakage

Whilst there are many circumstances where linking to an external site is appropriate, doing so for your audience to perform a core act of engagement results in unnecessary audience leakage and reduced exposure to key messages.

Sending your audience to external sites moves them away from your digital environment which you worked hard to get them to in the first place. Keeping them inside your one website offers you the opportunity to expose your audience to brand and campaign messaging which in turn encourages them to engage more.

Key takeaway: By sending your audience to external sites, you are missing out on an opportunity to engage them beyond their one visit.

Loss of brand continuity

External sites, especially those used for donations, fundraising and ticketing, are almost impossible to brand with consistency. Worse, these sites will often co-brand and cloud your audience’s perception of who is providing the service.

Key takeaway: Providing your audience one platform to engage with allows you to maintain your brand consistency and cultivate your brand perception among key demographics.

Data formatting, ownership and integration

Using multiple, external platforms to support eCommerce flows such as donations and fundraising results in disparate data formats that are difficult to reconcile and almost impossible to import consistently into an organisation’s CRM or financial management system. This often results in a poor use of resources to maintain your valuable data, which inevitably hurts a nonprofits bottom line and their ability to give back to their community.

In some circumstances, external platforms retain ownership of donor data. This poses potential donor privacy issues, as well as depriving your organisation of valuable data that can be used to better serve you audiences.

Key takeaway: Having all your functionality and data sourcing from one website ensures you can easily access your valuable data, and saves your nonprofit time and money which can be better utilised in serving your mission.


Nonprofits with many digital islands can allow these environments to decay over time (for example old campaign, event or fundraising activities) with little or no regard for ensuring ongoing data security management. As a nonprofit, you rely on the support of your community, and if security breaches occur that trust can be eroded.

Key takeaway: Your community support you, so you should support them in return. Keeping your data in one place allows you to maintain the privacy of donors in an easy to manage solution.

So what does all this mean?

We recommend a nonprofits main website brings together content management along with a full suite of eCommerce capabilities designed specifically for nonprofit organisations. These capabilities should encompass: 

  • Content Management 
  • Donations & Regular Giving 
  • Peer-to-Peer Fundraising 
  • Event Registration and Ticketing 
  • Campaigns and Appeals 
  • Online Shop Membership 

At a functional level, by integrating these capabilities into a single site, nonprofits can avoid unnecessary audience leakage and ensure data ownership and privacy is fully controlled by the organisation.

Want to learn more?

Call, email, or send us an online message to learn more about growing your nonprofit through digital excellence.

Written by
Matthew Foster
Digital Marketing Lead

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