Just as it’s critical for profit-making businesses to establish their own web presence these days, if your nonprofit organisation is to remain relevant, and if your latest campaigns are to gain the kind of traction you need to ensure their success, it’s essential that you develop a website.
It doesn’t have to be an all-singing, all-dancing cyber powerhouse. In fact, it’s probably better for your audience if isn’t.
Instead, your nonprofit needs something that at least gives you a solid base on which to establish your online presence and which serves as a central point of information for the work you do.
Yet as a not-for-profit company, you likely don’t have the kind of vast resources available to hire an expert team to do all the hard work for you, meaning much of the decision making is going to fall shoulders.
To help ease the burden then, here’s our guide to four things you’ll need to start a nonprofit website.
Low cost (or free) web hosting
Given the nature of what you do, you have a distinct advantage over those sites geared towards generating profit.
That advantage is that many of the best web hosting companies these days offer free -or at least dramatically reduced cost- plans to nonprofits like yours.
These means you get all the benefits of a solid, reliable hosting plan with none of the expensive costs involved.
It also means you can forget those ‘free for all’ hosting plans which, though they may not cost anything, do come with major drawbacks such as limited storage space and advertisements plastered over your site.
An easy, cost-effective way to build your site
As we’ve already said, being a nonprofit means you likely don’t have the kind of spare cash lying around to invest in a top web design expert, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a professional quality website by going it alone.
When you sign up with your hosting company, you should find that many of them include free tools and platforms that provide everything you need to create a functional, attractive website without knowing even a single line of code.
Among the most popular options are drag-and-drop website builders, where you simply load up a professionally pre-designed theme and customize it to your heart’s content by dropping elements into place and clicking a few buttons, and also Content Management Systems such as WordPress and Joomla.
Blogging tools to increase awareness
The latter of these two web design choices are ideal if you’re planning on adding lots of fresh new content to your website.
As any expert will tell you, doing this is a great way to build your brand online, spread the word about your latest campaigns and generally get more eyeballs on your website.
If you’re not using WordPress or a similar model to do this, at least ensure that you’ve got some kind of blogging tool in place that you can use to post updates, announce new campaigns or services, and generally keep your supporters up-to-date with what you’re doing.
eCommerce tools for fundraising
Though this may not be relevant for all nonprofits, if one of your goals for your new website involves raising money to support the work you’re doing, then you’ll need a tool or two to do just that.
By far the easiest option is to set up a PayPal account and solicit donations that way, though we should mention that there are several free-to-use applications and platforms that are designed purely to help nonprofits raise money online, and which blend in seamlessly with the rest of your site, usually just by dropping in a line of code.
Are you building a non-profit website? What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Share your experiences with us on the Web Design DIY Facebook page. Alternatively, send your burning questions to our experts on Twitter @WebDesignDIY and we’ll do our best to answer them in an upcoming post.