The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Nonprofit FAQ Pages

This is post 2 of 3 in the series “Ask Me Anything”

The Washington State Nonprofits Conference provides a chance for me to answer questions about all-things-nonprofit-websites for any attendee of this great conference. I’ve participated in 2021, 2022, and 2023, answering questions about website accessibility, website strategy, and content management. Many of the questions are so good, that I publishing the answers as blog posts.

iPad with a Question Mark on a white screen

Question: Is it still worthwhile to have an FAQs page?

I believe two seemingly contradictory things:

  • FAQ pages are a underrated
  • Most FAQ pages aren’t very good.

I must now immediately mention the useful research about FAQ pages from the Nielsen Norman Group. (Any long-time reader of my blog knows I link to them all the time!)

The Good

When done right, FAQs directly respond to real questions that website visitors have. A good FAQ page instantly provides the information people already had on their minds and saves staff time by decreasing emails and phone calls with basic questions and increasing how informed the average visitor is about your work. Since a good FAQ page is full of real questions, it’s a great way to show visitors that your organization understands and responds to their real needs.

The Bad & The Ugly

It’s critical that FAQ pages only have real questions and that they are actually frequently asked. Too often, you’ll see questions that are clearly posed by a self-interested organization rather than answering what is on a website visitor’s mind. No one wants to deal with an organization that appears self-centered or out-of-touch, and yet a bad FAQ page says just that.

So as long as your questions are real (e.g. “Can I receive services if I’m undocumented?”) and not obviously posed to yourself (e.g. “Can you tell me about the Executive Director’s favorite childhood pet?”) then you’re on solid ground.

Phasing out FAQs

And a final useful note from the article I started with. Over time, you should seek to reduce the number of FAQ questions by providing that information in clear and obvious locations throughout the website. The best FAQs—just like the best nonprofits—work to phase themselves out of existence once they are successful!

More Thoughts & Examples

If you’re ready to make or revise a FAQ page for your nonprofit, then check my article “Make the Perfect FAQ Page for Nonprofit Websites” and good luck!

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