Nonprofit organizations naturally differ from small businesses and corporations since their main purpose is to make a difference instead of improving revenue. Still, nonprofits require an online presence to spread awareness of their cause and gain loyal adherents.
The best way to establish an online presence is to build a nonprofit website. Luckily, the process to create a nonprofit website is straightforward, especially if you rely on a website builder to get the job done.
In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know to streamline a successful build for a nonprofit website project.
Do Nonprofit Organizations Need Websites?
The internet is a powerful tool that can help nonprofit organizations in several ways. A website allows you to:
- Educate people about your cause
- Collect donations
- Promote upcoming events
- Recruit volunteers
- Share impactful stories
Much like other businesses, nonprofits can benefit from the exposure a successful website can provide. Nonprofits can use their website to target a wide range of audiences, from individuals interested in donating money to people who want to get involved with the organization.
A well-designed website is also a valuable asset for promoting your nonprofit to potential donors and volunteers. A prospective donor can visit your site to learn more about your mission and what you’ve accomplished so far. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to make a donation.
The same goes for volunteers. When people are considering giving their time to a nonprofit, they want to know that their efforts will be used effectively. A great website allows you to show potential volunteers exactly how their time and energy will be put to good use.
Is Building a Nonprofit Website Expensive?
In the past, building and maintaining a website was expensive and required a lot of technical expertise. However, advancements in technology have made it easier (and more affordable) than ever to create a professional website.
Now, there are plenty of nonprofit website builders on the market that allow you to create a website quickly and easily, without any prior experience or design knowledge. Most of these builders offer free plans that include everything you need to get started, including templates, hosting, and support.
Paid plans typically start at around $15 per month and offer additional features like custom domains, ecommerce functionality, and advanced integrations.
If you’re serious about building a successful nonprofit website, we recommend opting for Nexcess’ website builder to take advantage of affordable and dynamic website development capabilities.
What Features Should a Nonprofit Website Include?
Not every nonprofit website is the same, but every successful website has similar features. The following features are based on effective website development principles.
Your website needs to be responsive on all devices, from desktop computers to tablets to smartphones. Mobile responsiveness is essential for providing users with a positive experience and ensuring that your site is accessible to as many people as possible.
If you’re using a website builder, you don’t need to worry about mobile responsiveness since all of the templates are designed to be mobile-friendly.
It’s also important to note that Google favors mobile-responsive websites when determining search engine rankings. So, in addition to providing a better experience for your visitors, a responsive design can also help you attract more organic traffic.
Your website’s navigation should be easy to use and understand. Users should be able to find what they’re looking for without any difficulty.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the navigation simple. Stick to common terms that users will be familiar with, and organize the pages in a way that makes sense. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at some of your favorite websites and see how they’ve organized their content.
The most common website architecture for nonprofits is:
- About us
- Contact us
No one wants to wait around for a slow website to load. If your site takes more than a few seconds to load, you’re likely to lose visitors. In fact, most people expect a website to load quicker than 2-3 seconds.
There are a number of factors that can affect your website’s speed, including the size of your images and the quality of your hosting. If you’re using a website builder, they will typically take care of optimizing your site for speed.
You can also use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get insights on how to improve your site’s performance.
For nonprofit websites, compelling storytelling is critical. You need to be able to clearly communicate your mission and what you’re doing to make a difference.
When writing content for your website, keep it simple and easy to read. Use short paragraphs and breaks between sections to make the content more digestible. And, if you can, include images, videos, or infographics to break up the text and add visual interest.
Vibrant Color Scheme
Your website’s color scheme should be cohesive and reflect your brand. For example, if your nonprofit is focused on environmental issues, you might want to use green in your color palette.
If you’re not sure what colors to use, a good starting point is to look at other websites in your industry. See what colors they’re using and how they’ve put together their overall design. You can also use a tool like Adobe Color CC to create a custom color palette for your website.
If you want people to take action on your website, you need to have usable forms. Forms are commonly used for things like email newsletters, volunteer sign-ups, and donation pages.
When creating forms, keep them short and to the point. Only ask for information that you actually need. And, make sure the form is easy to understand and use. If someone has to spend more than a few minutes trying to figure out how to fill out a form, they’re likely to give up and go somewhere else.
8 Steps to Create a Nonprofit Website
Ready to start the nonprofit website development process? Here are all the steps you need to take to get started.
1. Determine Your Goals
Before you start building your website, it’s important to take a step back and think about your goals. What do you want your website to achieve?
Are you looking to increase donations? Drive more traffic to your blog? Get people to sign up for your email newsletter? Once you know what you want to accomplish, you can start making decisions about the design and functionality of your site.
For example, if one of your goals is to increase online donations, you might want to make sure that your donation page is prominently featured on your website and easy to use. Or, if you’re trying to get people to sign up for your email newsletter, you might want to add a pop-up form or a sign-up form in the sidebar of your website.
Knowing your goals upfront will help you build a more effective nonprofit website.
If you’re not sure what your goals should be, take a look at some of these common nonprofit website goals:
- Increase donations
- Drive traffic to your blog
- Get people to sign up for your email newsletter
- Increase event registrations
- Boost volunteer sign-ups
After you’ve determined your goals, it’s time to move on to the next step in the process, which is picking a domain name.
2. Purchase Your Domain Name
Your domain name is your website’s address on the internet. It’s what people will type into their browser to find your site. For example, Google’s domain name is google.com.
When choosing a domain name for your nonprofit website, you want to make sure that it’s easy to remember and spell. You also want to make sure that it’s relevant to your organization.
If you can, try to include keywords in your domain name that describe what you do. For example, if you run a food bank, you might want to include the word “food” or “hunger” in your domain name.
3. Choose a Website Builder
Now that you have a domain name, it’s time to start building your website. To do this, you’ll need to choose a website builder.
A website builder is a software platform that allows you to create and build a website without any coding knowledge. It’s an easy and effective way to build a professional-looking website quickly and without any headaches.
There are many different website builders on the market, but not all of them are created equal. When choosing a website builder for your nonprofit website, you want to make sure that it’s easy to use, has good customer support, and offers the features and flexibility that you need.
4. Choose a Website Host
After you select a website builder, find a hosting provider. Hosting is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are different types of web hosting to choose from, and some options may work better for your nonprofit website than others.
Be sure to check out reviews for hosts you’re considering, especially when it comes to technical support. You may also want to consider uptime, which features the hosting plan comes with, and any security the host provides. You’ll want to be sure your website is in good hands, so you don’t have to worry if things go awry.
5. Create a Sitemap
Once you have a website builder, it’s time to start planning out your website. The first step in doing this is to create a sitemap.
A sitemap is an outline of all the pages and content that you want to include on your website. It helps you organize your thoughts and make sure that everything is accounted for before you start building your site.
To create a sitemap, simply create a list of all the pages that you want to include on your site. For example, if you’re creating a simple website, your sitemap might look like this:
- About page
- Contact page
- Donation page
If you’re creating a more complex website, your sitemap might be longer and include sub-pages. For example, if you’re creating a website for an event, your sitemap might look like this:
- About the event
- Schedule of events
6. Choose Your Website Theme
Next, it’s time to start thinking about the design of your website. One of the easiest ways to do this is to choose a pre-designed theme.
A theme is a collection of design elements that you can use to create a visually cohesive website. Most website builders come with a library of themes that you can choose from.
When choosing a theme for your nonprofit website, you want to make sure that it’s easy to use and customize. You also want to make sure that it’s mobile-friendly and responsive, which means that it will look presentable on all devices, from smartphones to laptops.
7. Install Plugins
Plugins are like apps for your website. They allow you to add features and functionality to your site without any coding knowledge. There are plugins for just about everything, from contact forms to social media integration.
When choosing plugins for your nonprofit website, you want to make sure that they’re compatible with your website builder and theme. You also want to make sure that they’re well-rated and supported by the developer.
For example, if you’re using WordPress, one of the most popular plugins is Jetpack. Jetpack is a plugin that offers a wide range of features, from website stats to security. Another popular plugin for WordPress websites is Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps you optimize your website for search engines like Google.
For nonprofit websites, consider GiveWP, a donation plugin. A plugin like this can help you fundraise for your nonprofit organization.
8. Optimize for SEO
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s the process of optimizing your website for Google and other search engines.
There are many different factors that go into SEO, but some of the most important ones are:
- Keywords: Keywords are the words and phrases that people use to search for your website on Google. When choosing keywords, you want to make sure that they’re relevant to your website and that you’re not using too many or too few.
- Page titles and descriptions: The title and description of each page on your website should be unique and include relevant keywords.
- Content: Your content should be well-written and include relevant keywords.
- Links: Your website should have links to other websites, as well as internal links (links to other pages on your own website).
9. Beta Test & Launch
After you’ve designed and built your website, it’s time to put it through a beta test. A beta test is when you allow a small group of people to test out your website before you launch it to the public.
This helps you catch any errors or bugs that you might have missed. It also allows you to get feedback on your website so that you can make improvements before launching it. Once your beta test is complete and all the bugs are fixed, it’s time to launch your website.
Build and Host Your Nonprofit Website with Nexcess
As you can see, building a nonprofit website isn’t an impossible task once you’re finished with your research. The process can become even easier when you choose a website builder that does all the work for you.
Get started today and choose Nexcess to host your website for your nonprofit organization.