Building a Non-Profit Website: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Building a Non-Profit Website Step-by-Step

Building a Non-Profit Website blog image

Building a non-profit website and having a compelling online presence is essential for non-profit organizations to connect with their audience, raise awareness, and drive support for their causes.

Considering that there are over 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S. alone (globally, that number exceeds 10 million), having a great website becomes imperative to stand out in this crowded landscape.

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to revamp your existing website, in this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you how to build a website and create an effective online presence for your non-profit organization.

Takeaways
  • Create a professional nonprofit organization’s website without coding skills, thanks to user-friendly website builders like Wix, GoDaddy, and Google Sites
  • Choose the right website builder that aligns with your nonprofit’s goals and business plan, ensuring your website effectively engages and informs website visitors
  • Implement landing pages strategically to encourage action from your audience, such as donations or event registrations
  • Seamlessly integrate your nonprofit organization’s website with other websites and services, like Google, for added functionality and convenience
  • Focus on a clear structure, compelling content, and mobile optimization to create a positive and user-friendly experience for your website visitors
  • Utilize your website as a crucial element of your online marketing strategy to expand your nonprofit’s reach and impact

Building a Website for a Nonprofit Organization in 11 Simple Steps

The following sections will walk you through the essential steps of building a non-profit website. From assembling your team to selecting the right platform, creating compelling content, and analyzing performance, we’ve covered every aspect in detail.

Let’s begin your journey to a successful nonprofit website.

Step 1: Assemble a Team

Building a nonprofit website requires a capable team with a range of skills. Your team should be led by a project manager and assisted by a project architect to ensure smooth coordination.

The core of your web development team should include UI/UX designers for a user-friendly interface, front-end developers for the website’s look and feel, back-end developers for functionality, and QA engineers to ensure everything runs smoothly.

This team will lay the foundation for your nonprofit website’s success.

Step 2: Define the Objectives of Your Non-Profit Website

Setting clear objectives for your website before diving into the design phase is super important. Consider your main goals: promoting events, attracting new members and donors, or keeping your current members informed.

A non-profit website should aim to:

  • Enhance the organization’s visibility and make its mission clear
  • Bridge the gap between the organization’s services and those seeking assistance
  • Mobilize prospective donors and volunteers into action
  • Foster continued engagement by sharing the latest news and events

Align these goals with your organization’s values and desired image, ensuring that your website’s layout, words, colors, and more reflect your mission and values effectively.

Step 3: Choose a Platform for Your Non-Profit Website

Selecting the right platform is a pivotal decision in building your non-profit website. Several user-friendly options, such as Wix, GoDaddy, and Google Sites, are worth considering. Each platform offers distinct features and capabilities that cater to various needs.

In the following sections, we’ll dive into the specifics of these platforms to help you make an informed choice that aligns with your organization’s goals and resources.

Step 4: Choose a Domain Name and Set Up Non-Profit Website Hosting

Effective domain name management is key to a successful non-profit website. When selecting a domain name, choose something memorable and reflective of your organization’s mission. Keep it concise, avoiding complex or lengthy names.

After securing your domain, choose a reliable hosting service to ensure your website is accessible to visitors 24/7. This combination of a fitting domain name and dependable hosting lays a strong foundation for your non-profit website’s online presence.

What Is the Best Domain for a Non-Profit Organization?

Selecting the ideal domain name for your non-profit is crucial.

Keep it simple, easy to remember, and closely tied to your organization’s name or mission. Consider using the ‘.org’ domain extension, as it’s widely recognized for non-profits.

Avoid hyphens or complex spellings, and ensure your domain reflects the essence of your cause. A memorable domain name enhances your website’s credibility and helps potential supporters find you online.

Step 5: Create Website Architecture

Even if you have top-notch content, it won’t matter if visitors can’t easily find it.

Ensuring a logical and user-friendly structure is key. Think of it as organizing the pages and subpages of your website.

Consider these factors when designing your non-profit’s website structure:

  • Adapt page names to be visitor-friendly
  • Explore various sitemaps before choosing one
  • Combine elements from different structures that suit your audience’s needs
  • Start with essential pages and expand as needed over time

Here are eight website structures that can work well for different nonprofits:

  • Simple and Classic
  • Program-Driven
  • Life-Stage Driven
  • One Main Program
  • Direct Service Provider
  • Research-Driven
  • Programs and Policy
  • Policy Focus (No Programs)

Choosing the right structure is vital to engaging first-time visitors and those seeking specific information about your organization.

Step 6: Think About Non-Profit Website Design

Crafting a compelling website design is essential when learning how to create a website for your non-profit organization. Your design should be clean and user-friendly, reflecting your organization’s brand and values.

Pay attention to color schemes, typography, and imagery that resonate with your audience. Ensure your design is mobile-responsive to reach visitors on various devices. An intuitive design leaves a lasting impression and encourages visitors to explore your content and support your cause.

Step 7: Choose the Right Non-Profit Website Template

Selecting the right website template is a big part of creating a non-profit website.

These templates typically fall into two primary categories: versatile multi-purpose templates that can adapt to various businesses and those specifically designed for blogging, resumes, portfolios, eCommerce, and non-profits.

Opt for a template that aligns with your organization’s goals and the content you intend to showcase, ensuring it provides the functionality and aesthetics you need for a successful website.

Step 8: Create Content for Your Pages

Effective content is at the heart of your non-profit website’s success. Copywriting, the art of persuasive writing, is crucial for various page content. It enables you to convey your mission and inspire action.

Blogs, on the other hand, serve to inform and engage your audience. Well-crafted blog posts with compelling storytelling keep readers engaged and optimize your website for search engines (SEO).

By combining persuasive copywriting and informative blogs, you can create a powerful narrative that resonates with your audience and drives your non-profit’s mission forward.

Step 9: Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

Mobile optimization needs to be non-negotiable. With more users accessing websites via smartphones and tablets, ensuring your non-profit website is mobile-friendly is a must.

Here’s what it means to have a mobile-friendly website:

  • Responsive Design: Your site adapts seamlessly to different screen sizes and resolutions.
  • Fast Loading Times: Pages load quickly on mobile devices.
  • Touch-Friendly: Navigation and buttons are easy to use with touch gestures.
  • Readability: Content is legible without zooming in or out.
  • Mobile SEO: Your website is optimized for search engines on mobile platforms.
  • Cross-Browser Compatibility: Ensures compatibility across various mobile browsers.
  • Simplified Menus: Navigation menus are concise and easy to access on small screens.
  • Mobile Testing: Regularly test your website’s mobile functionality to identify and fix issues promptly.

Step 10: Optimize for SEO

While we’ve briefly discussed SEO-optimized content, realizing that your entire non-profit website should be built with SEO in mind is vital.

Here’s what’s involved in optimizing your non-profit website for search engines:

  • Keyword Research: Identify relevant keywords for your website content.
  • Meta Tags: Optimize meta titles and descriptions for each page.
  • Alt Text: Use descriptive alt text for images to enhance accessibility and SEO.
  • Internal Linking: Create a logical structure for linking between pages.
  • Page Speed: Ensure fast loading times for better SEO performance.
  • Mobile Optimization: Make sure your website is mobile-friendly for SEO.
  • Learning Curve: Stay informed about SEO best practices to adapt to changing algorithms.
  • Quality Website Content: Continuously update and refine website content for relevance and engagement.

A holistic approach to SEO can significantly boost your non-profit website’s visibility and impact.

Step 11: Analyze Website Traffic

To gauge the effectiveness of your non-profit website, it’s crucial to leverage tools like Google Analytics. This powerful tool provides insights through various metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs).

Marketers should measure the following to assess website performance:

  • Website Traffic: Track the number of visitors and unique visitors.
  • Bounce Rate: Assess how many users leave after viewing a single page.
  • Conversion Rate: Measure the percentage of visitors taking desired actions (e.g., donations).
  • Average Session Duration: Understand how long users engage with your content.
  • Pageviews: Analyze which pages are most popular.
  • Traffic Sources: Identify where your visitors come from (organic search, social media, etc.).
  • Exit Pages: Determine where users tend to leave your site.

Using tools such as Google Analytics, CMS Hub, SEMRush, Ahrefs, or Similarweb, you can refine your non-profit website strategy and improve its impact over time.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a Website for a Nonprofit?

Building a website for a nonprofit organization comes with varying costs, largely depending on your budget and specific needs. Here’s a breakdown:

Low Budget (Around $1,500)

  • Limited Customization: You’ll rely on off-the-shelf website builder solutions, which may result in a somewhat generic website.
  • Limited Functionality: Your site will be constrained by the platform’s features and capabilities.
  • Built-In Integrations: You’ll have access to pre-built integrations for basic functionality.

Larger Budget ($10,000 to $35,000)

  • Digital Strategy: Develop a comprehensive digital strategy tailored to your organization’s goals.
  • Content Strategy: Craft engaging content aligned with your mission.
  • UI Design: Create a visually appealing design consistent with your branding.
  • Custom Templates: Design templates tailored to specific page goals.
  • Custom Functionality: Implement unique features to serve your website and organizational objectives.
  • CMS Customization: Enhance backend workflows for efficient content management.
  • Built-In and Custom Integrations: Leverage both pre-built and customized integrations to optimize functionality.

Ultimately, your budget will determine the level of customization, functionality, and overall quality of your nonprofit website.

How to Create a Nonprofit Website for Free?

Creating a nonprofit website for free is a viable option, thanks to hosting providers that offer special packages for nonprofit organizations.

These packages often include benefits like free domain registration, website builders, and basic hosting services at no cost.

By leveraging these offerings, nonprofits can establish an online presence without the financial burden of website development and hosting expenses. This enables organizations to focus their resources on their mission and outreach while enjoying the benefits of a professional website.

Best Non-Profit Website Builders to Consider

Choosing the right website builder is crucial for your nonprofit’s online presence. In this section, we’ll explore top options like Wix, GoDaddy, and Google Sites, each offering unique features to help your organization shine online.

Wix

Wix stands out as an all-in-one, user-friendly platform for those new to website building. With over 800 design templates, it offers customization options for various needs, from blogging to small businesses.

The drag-and-drop interface is a standout feature, allowing easy content addition and design without any coding knowledge. Plus, Wix supports over 300 third-party apps, enhancing your website with functionalities like scheduling and event booking.

Wix provides built-in SEO tools to boost your site’s visibility on search engines. Although the free plan comes with many features, it has limitations. Google Analytics isn’t available, and you’ll have Wix ads on your site with a mysite.wix.com domain. Choose your template wisely, as switching after site launch isn’t an option.

Is Wix Good for Nonprofits?

Yes, Wix is a good option for nonprofits. Its user-friendly interface, customization options, and built-in SEO tools make it suitable for creating professional-looking websites without coding experience.

Wix also offers a free plan, which can be cost-effective for nonprofits with limited budgets. However, considering potential limitations, such as storage restrictions and upgrading for advanced features like e-commerce, is essential.

Is Wix Free for Nonprofits?

Yes, Wix offers a free plan for nonprofits. This plan provides access to many of Wix’s website-building features without any cost. However, there are limitations, such as Wix ads on your site, a mysite.wix.com domain, and storage restrictions.

To access more advanced features, like e-commerce capabilities, nonprofits may need to upgrade to one of Wix’s paid plans starting at $27 monthly.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy isn’t just a domain registrar; it’s a comprehensive platform for all your website needs. GoDaddy simplifies the process for nonprofits and businesses by offering web hosting, website building, WordPress websites, email services, and SSL certificates.

Its commitment to corporate philanthropy, supporting entrepreneurship, and STEM in underserved communities sets it apart. This means that your organization’s investment also contributes to meaningful causes, making it an attractive choice for nonprofits.

Is GoDaddy Good for Nonprofits?

Yes, GoDaddy is a good choice for nonprofits. It offers a wide range of website-related services, simplifying the process of building and maintaining a nonprofit website.

Additionally, GoDaddy’s corporate philanthropy programs support essential causes like entrepreneurship and STEM education, making it a socially responsible choice for nonprofits looking to make a positive impact while meeting their online needs.

Is GoDaddy Free for Nonprofits?

No, GoDaddy does not offer a free plan specifically for nonprofits. Their services come with various pricing tiers, depending on the features and resources needed.

Nonprofits may need to choose a suitable paid plan for web hosting, domain registration, and other services, which can vary in cost depending on their requirements.

Google Sites

Google Sites is a user-friendly website builder with several standout features. Notably, all web pages are automatically optimized for various devices, ensuring your site looks great on smartphones, tablets, and computers without extra adjustments.

Being a Google product, it seamlessly integrates with various Google services like YouTube, Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drive, Forms, Maps, and Groups, making content embedding a breeze. You can also embed widgets from external websites and display any content or website as a full page.

Google Sites boasts a built-in content management system (CMS) with revision history, allowing easy content monitoring and version restoration—a valuable tool for website maintenance and evolution.

Is Google Sites Good for Nonprofits?

Yes, Google Sites is a good choice for nonprofits seeking a user-friendly website builder. Its mobile optimization, seamless integration with Google services, and content management system make it a practical and versatile option for creating and managing nonprofit websites.

Plus, it’s free to use, making it budget-friendly for organizations with limited resources.

Is Google Sites Free for Nonprofits?

Yes, Google Sites is free for nonprofits. It offers a cost-effective way for organizations to create and maintain their websites without the burden of subscription fees.

With features like mobile optimization and integration with various Google services, it’s an accessible choice for nonprofits looking to establish an online presence while managing their budgets effectively.

Must-Have Features to Include in Your Nonprofit Website

Nonprofit websites differ significantly from other types of sites due to their mission-driven nature.

These features collectively convey your mission, inspire support, and foster a sense of community around your cause.

  • Pages that Describe Programs and Impact
  • Donation Page
  • Clear Mission Statement
  • Blog and News Updates
  • Events Calendar

Pages that Describe Programs and Impact

Your nonprofit website should feature pages dedicated to describing your programs and their impact. These pages serve different purposes:

  • Program Overview: An introductory page overviews your programs, their significance, and how they align with your mission.
  • Program Details: In-depth pages for each program, outlining their goals, activities, and outcomes.
  • Success Stories: Highlight real-life success stories and testimonials to demonstrate the positive impact of your programs.
  • Impact Metrics: Share data and statistics to quantify the change your nonprofit is making in the community.

These pages collectively convey your nonprofit’s work, significance, and the tangible difference you’re making, inspiring visitors to support your cause.

Donation Page

A donation page is the lifeblood of any nonprofit website. It’s where you make the crucial ask for financial support. To make it effective, consider these key factors:

  • Taglines that Evoke Emotion: Craft compelling taglines that tap into the mission and vision of your organization. These should emotionally connect with visitors, inspiring them to take action and make a difference.
  • Professional-Looking Website: Your donation page should seamlessly blend with your website’s overall design and theme. A professional appearance instills trust and confidence in potential donors.
  • Effortless Online Donations: Ensure accepting donations online is smooth, secure, and user-friendly. The more seamless the experience, the more likely visitors will complete their contributions.

Your donation page is where the financial support that drives your nonprofit’s mission begins. Make it resonate with your audience, and you’ll see greater engagement and contributions.

Clear Mission Statement

A clear mission statement is vital for a nonprofit organization as a whole and an essential element of your website. It forms the foundation for programs, services, communications, and organizational culture. Moreover, on your website, it:

  • Inspires and Unifies: Motivates and unifies staff, board members, and volunteers, aligning everyone behind a common cause that resonates with your website visitors.
  • Guides Decision-Making: Helps leaders make informed decisions and strategically plan website content and initiatives that align with your core purpose.

Including your mission statement on your website ensures that visitors immediately grasp your nonprofit’s purpose and commitment, fostering trust and engagement.

Blog and News Updates

Blogs are a key component of nonprofit websites, serving as a platform to inform visitors about your organization’s activities, fundraising efforts, and upcoming events. These posts provide crucial information, engage the audience, and create awareness about your mission.

Whether you blog weekly or bi-weekly, these posts are typically 250 words or longer, with longer content (500+ words) being preferable for SEO benefits.

It’s important to note that many nonprofits have disabled comments on their blogs since online discussions have shifted to social media platforms, focusing on fostering engagement there instead.

Events Calendar

An events calendar keeps your audience informed if there is an upcoming event or initiative. It serves as a central hub for event details, including event registration information.

Moreover, your blog can seamlessly interlink with the calendar, directing visitors to register for events mentioned in your posts. Integrating your event calendar into your email marketing efforts also boosts event attendance.

To maintain a cohesive web design, ensure that your calendar aligns with the overall look and feel of your website, providing a seamless user experience.

Non-Profit Website Examples

Exploring successful non-profit website examples can provide valuable insights into creating an impactful online presence. These sites effectively engage and inform site visitors while conveying their mission and purpose.

Let’s take a look at some inspiring examples to fuel your nonprofit website’s success.

Example 1: Michigan Alliance for Justice in Climate

The Michigan Alliance for Justice in Climate (MAJIC) is a coalition of Michigan organizations working collectively to achieve Climate Justice for the Great Lakes region. Comprising organizers, volunteers, and professionals, MAJIC aims to create a sustainable future for Michigan residents, free from the adverse impacts of environmental decline.

Their website features clear navigation with sections labeled Platform, Learn, and About, along with a prominent “Take Action” donation button in the upper right-hand corner, inviting visitors to support their cause.

Michigan Alliance for Justice in Climate MAJIC

Example 2: The Wood County Humane Society

The Wood County Humane Society serves as a community leader, advocating for the harmonious relationship between animals and humans. Their mission includes providing top-tier care for shelter pets and extending services to the community.

These services include a low-cost spay and neuter program, addressing animal cruelty, providing temporary refuge for pets in domestic violence, and offering food assistance.

Their website, well-organized with sections like Home, About, Adopt, Services & Programs, and Get Involved, features a prominent “Donate Now” box in the upper right-hand corner.

The Wood County Humane Society

Example 3: The Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP)

Since 1985, the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) has been a global leader in climate and air quality policy. As a nonprofit think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., CCAP specializes in innovative, market-based solutions to climate, air quality, and energy challenges.

Their website prioritizes policy content over design elements but offers easy navigation through a clear top menu. Visitors can also access their accounts via “Become a Member” or “Login” options.

The Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP)

Final Word: Building a Non-Profit Website for Free

Building a non-profit website is a crucial step for any nonprofit organization, and it’s reassuring to know that you can establish a powerful online presence without breaking the bank. You have options:

Utilizing free website builders and hosting can be wallet-friendly, but be mindful of the potential limitations and compromises on functionality and support.

Alternatively, exploring some of the premium website builders and web hosting providers offers robust features and reliable support, though it’s essential to keep an eye on escalating costs.

Whatever your choice, navigate through our Best Website Builders and Best Web Hosting recommendations for further guidance and insights to help your nonprofit organization reach and engage a broader audience.

Next Steps: What Now?

Learn More About Non-Profit Websites

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I create a free nonprofit website?

To create a free nonprofit website, choose a user-friendly website builder like Wix, GoDaddy, or Google Sites. These platforms offer free plans tailored to nonprofit needs. Select a template, and customize it with your content, including a clear mission statement and donation page.

Utilize an events calendar, blog, and compelling program descriptions to engage visitors. Finally, ensure mobile optimization and interlink your blog with the events calendar for a seamless user experience.

What should a website be for a nonprofit?

A nonprofit website should be a powerful tool for communication, fundraising, and advocacy. It must convey the organization’s mission, highlight programs, and provide a platform for accepting donations online.

Using a nonprofit website builder like Wix, GoDaddy, or Google Sites, you can create an informative, engaging, and user-friendly online presence that effectively serves your nonprofit’s goals.

What is the best website builder for a nonprofit?

The best website builder for a nonprofit depends on your specific needs. Wix, GoDaddy, and Google Sites are popular options. Wix offers versatility, while GoDaddy provides comprehensive services.

Google Sites seamlessly integrates with Google services. Regardless of your choice, focus on clear content, easy navigation, and effective online marketing to encourage visitors to engage with your nonprofit’s mission.

Can a website be nonprofit?

A website itself isn’t nonprofit, but a nonprofit organization can use it. Nonprofits often seek to create a website to showcase their mission, share information, and gather support.

While they may not generate revenue directly, these sites serve as valuable marketing materials to promote the nonprofit’s cause and engage with their audience effectively.

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