You have a worthy cause or message you want to share with the world.
You know in order to get it out there and be successful, you need to take it online.
How exactly do you establish an online presence for your nonprofit? And cover all your bases in the process?
What You’ll Need
While creating a website for your nonprofit might take some time, it doesn’t have to be too difficult or overwhelming. Here is a list of what you’ll need (and what we’ll cover in more detail below):
- Basic Written Plan: this could include details like your colors, fonts, web pages, etc.
- Domain: refers to your website address
- Hosting: refers to the “virtual land” your website is built on
- WordPress: the open source (free) software you’ll install onto your domain so that you can create and update your website without touching any code
- Theme: the “framework” for your WordPress website
- Plugins: these are equivalent to apps on your smartphone (what you’ll install onto your WordPress website to add certain functionalities such as cybersecurity)
- Content: the text, photos, videos, and anything else you’ll put onto each web page
Basic Written Plan
Just as you wouldn’t start building a house without a blueprint, likewise you shouldn’t start building a website without a solid plan. You’ll want to have some basic info such as your:
- Mission statement
- Vision statement
- Desired website colors
- Desired website fonts
- Which web pages you’ll need
- the list goes on …
At the very bottom of this blog post, you’ll be able to get a free website planning worksheet.
This refers to the website address (www.nameofyourwebite.com). It typically costs $10 – $20 per year. Out of all the domain name providers I’ve worked with, NameCheap is my favorite because they include free WhoisGuard. This ensures nobody can look you up based on your domain name (and try to spam you).
This refers to the “virtual land” your website is built on. Some hosting providers prefer to charge annually while others offer monthly terms. You can typically expect to pay $10 – $20 per month for hosting. Out of all the hosting providers out there, I have had the best experience with SiteGround.
NOTE: if you can prove 501(c)3 status for your organization, some hosting companies will actually offer free hosting. DreamHost is one hosting provider I know of that offers this.
This is the open source (free) software you’ll install that lets you create and update your website without dealing with any code. It also has a huge community of developers continually making it better. Most hosting providers make it very easy to install WordPress (often with a single click). It’s also built for search engine optimization (SEO).
You can learn more about WordPress here.
On a WordPress (WP) website, the theme refers to the website skin or framework. There are over 100 WP themes available – some free, some you have to pay for (called premium themes).
If you have any prior experience with Wix or Weebly, know that several page builder theme exist. Divi, Elementor, and Beaver Builder are just three examples. I personally enjoy using Divi for my personal and client websites.
You can browse all the free themes here.
These are like the apps on your smartphone. Just as you have apps for navigation, checking the weather, etc., likewise you have plugins for certain things like cybersecurity, SEO, and a number of other things.
Here is a partial list of plugins to consider installing onto your nonprofit website:
- WordFence (for cybersecurity)
- SEO Framework (for SEO)
- Optimole (for compressing images and improving website speed)
- Autoptimize (for improving website speed)
- GiveWP (for accepting donations online)
- Wired Impact Volunteer Management (for keeping track of your volunteers and related opportunities)
- Nonprofit Board Management (for managing your board)
Depending on your goals, you may possibly need more plugins. This is only a starting point.
After all of the above is in place, now it’s time to put your web pages together. Depending on your goals, here are some possible web pages to put in your navigation bar:
- Get Involved
On your About page, you’ll definitely want to invest in professional photos of you and your staff to put there. Throughout your nonprofit website, you’ll want to make sure your images and videos really tell your story.
Make sure your visuals really appeal to the emotions of your visitors. This can also encourage more people to donate to your worthy cause.
Take the example of the Alzheimer’s Association …
Think about the impression you got when you saw this image. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, then this may have impacted you more.
Here’s another example from Breast Cancer Action …
In case someone was interested in volunteering for this nonprofit, they could see what getting involved looks like. This could also help them envision being part of your mission.
One last pro tip: the moment someone lands on your nonprofit website, they should immediately be able to tell what you stand for. While you don’t want to shove your mission down their throat, you’ll at least want to highlight it on your home page.
Now you have a detailed overview of what you’ll need for your nonprofit website. Whether you decide to hire someone or take the do it yourself route, you can think of this like a checklist to help you cover all your bases.
If you need assistance with the very first step (making a plan), take advantage of my free website planning worksheet below.