Effective fundraising is about outreach, storytelling, and engagement. It’s also about good use of design. Whether you’re creating thank-you emails or building a donor landing page, design will always be the first and foremost way to capture people’s attention.

Is my design effective? How can I make it better?

These two questions will continually come up when creating something, or at least they should. All too often someone will confuse design with art, and think that their opinion as creator is the last word, no matter what. This works for art, which is subjective, but not so much for a design where the purpose is to appeal to a certain demographic and capture attention that leads to engagement. Sure, some level of artistic prowess is required for both endeavors, but the end goal of each is different.

When designing fundraising content, the only sure way to tell if it works effectively is to test and measure the results.

For emails, the open rates, clicks, and conversions to some type of action, such as a donation, will be the true mark of success. Prototype testing does the same for website user interface design. And month-to-month tracking and monitoring of performance trends will help improve the online user experience.

All that said, these kinds of testing doesn’t necessarily solve all your problems. So, thanks to the helpful folks at npENGAGE, we’ve rounded up some tools that really help out nonprofit designers.

  1. UsabilityHub
    Perfect for small teams (including teams of 1), UsabilityHub allows instant feedback from other designers, as well as offering tests to help trouble shoot and polish your work.
  2. Inspectlet
    An amazing tool that gives you the ability to see through the eyes of any visitor to your creation. A small embed script records the experience of someone using your website, allowing you to play it back at your leisure.
  3. Crazy Egg
    Google analytics are one of the best resources out there for an analyst, but sometimes even the mighty Google can’t tell you the full story. Crazy Egg can give you a heat map of clicks, showing you exactly where and how frequently visitors click, as well as a number of other “maps.”

For more on these and some honorable mentions, take a second to look at npENGAGE’s write-up.