First Nations Development Institute

First Nations Development Institute improves economic conditions for Native Americans through direct financial grants, technical assistance & training, and advocacy policy. Over the past 40 years, the organization has distributed more than 1,600 grants totaling $35 million across the country. Additionally, First Nations hosts events, sponsors programs, and conducts trainings that support the Native American community.

First Nations came to NMC looking to enhance their digital profile by attractively portraying their work while engaging stakeholders. We leveraged our experience in non-profit website design to create a best-in-class site that would guide the organization towards their goals. Following a detailed digital discovery process, a full visual language redesign, and a technical review of their previous infrastructure, we produced a new site that successfully captures First Nations' mission and what they do for their communities. The reception has been exceedingly positive so far, and has already led to additional collaboration and the development of two additional microsites. 

Putting a Face to FNDI's Impact

The new website was designed to center on the faces of First Nations' stakeholders. The goal was to have the site evoke a visceral reaction and help visitors understand the human impact of the work done by FNDI and its partners. The homepage leads with a full-screen image of a family with the FNDI tagline laid over it in a simple, yet impactful, manner.  

Below the feature, visitors are able to quickly navigate to the content that they're looking for. Whether that's through the top navigation menu or the prominent call-to-action buttons, visitors are sure to find helpful programs and materials while learning about the organization's impact along the way. NMC's designers worked to incorporate images, statistics, and engaging interactive techniques that draw visitors' attention and educate them about FDNI's important work.

The site is built on a WordPress Content Management System that uses Advanced Custom Fields. The Custom Fields and other features ensure that the site will be able to grow with FNDI as they continue to expand and develop new programming. The Donate and Volunteer tools are managed through Salsa CRM. We used Salsa's API to make sure that the data syncs directly with the existing FDNI database. 

Custom Grants Search and Directory

Considering that grant distribition is a primary focus of the organization, they wanted an engaging and interactive way to present grant information to stakeholders. After evaluating several off-the-shelf options, we came to the conclusion that a custom-designed grants search would be the best way to set FDNI apart from their peers. The tool has a map that allows visitors to click on a state and refine their search with slideable filters, real-time options, and more. The functionality provides an attractive, custom, and intuitive experience for an important audience group.

 

Program Hubs

FNDI's work is varied, but they're most focused on five priority program areas. NMC designed a custom program layout that allows each program page to serve as its own hub. Each hub curates all of the relevant information, resources, and multimedia related to that area. All of this content is pushed to the hub pages through WordPress categorizing, making it very easy for FNDI to maintain. This hub approach allows visitors to go to the program that interests them most and quickly get access to all of the relevant content.

Critical Information at a Visitor's Finger Tips

With many important FNDI stakeholders being on the move or in need of easy-access information, it was critical for the site to perform well on mobile. After working with FNDI to understand how mobile visitors would use the site, we embraced a mobile-first philosophy around key functionalities like the grant searches.

The Beginning of a Long Partnership

After the success of the discovery, design, and development process on firstnations.org, the organization came back to use to build two microsites for priority initiatives.

The first, Reclaiming Native Truth, promotes inclusion and social justice for Native Americans. We made the microsite its own by utilizing sepia-toned images, a dynamic timeline slider, and the arrow motif from the project’s logo. In addition to these distinctive elements, the site brings in colors and styling from the main FDNI website to communicate that the two sites are related.

The second microsite, Native Food Systems, uses similar techniques to advertise First Nations’ feature film Gather. To set this site apart from both Reclaiming Native Truth and the main FDNI website, we took an image-forward approach that alludes to the visual nature of the film. Additionally, we incorporated unique background textures, a prominent stat bar, and sections for visitors to discover ways to watch the film, learn about Native communities, and act in support of the initiative.

We were thrilled to continue our partnership with First Nations and look forward to supporting them for years to come.