About Jason Chow
Jason is a fan of technology and entrepreneurship. He loves building website. You can get in touch with him via Twitter.
Finances are one of the most challenging operational aspects for non-profits, and expensive website developers can be hard to justify. That’s where excellent content management systems like WordPress come in handy.
If you need to build a website for your non-profit quickly, easily, and for cheap, WordPress is one of the prime candidates in the running. If that piques your interest, read on to learn more about this excellent platform and how you can best make it work for your non-profit website.
There are more advantages to using WordPress, but these are the key highlights for non-profits. With that out of the way, we come to the nitty-gritty of what you’ll need to build and run your WordPress-based non-profit website successfully.
You’ll be happy to know the steps and details are simple;
WordPress is a web application designed as a Content Management System (CMS). It specializes in allowing users to manage content conveniently and has pretty low requirements for operation.
Today, more than 40% of all websites on the Internet run on WordPress. Given the many platforms available for building websites, that’s a significant chunk of market share. Its popularity is a result of several factors, and for non-profits, here are the essential advantages;
Tech geeks and developers used to create websites for the world, earning significant amounts of money. Platforms like WordPress are easy to deploy, and you don’t need to learn to code. This convenience makes it a viable platform for almost anyone to use.
As an open-sourced development, WordPress is free and constantly being improved by its developers and the community at large. Constant updates have kept it highly relevant over the years, and it’s been well-documented in the process. Because of that, help is never far away.
Thanks to its modular design, you can use WordPress to construct any type of website imaginable. For non-profits, that means you can even easily add on custom features found uniquely within your ecosystem, like accepting donations online.
Web hosting can get complicated given the types of plans, various costs, and even different configurations. WordPress runs on almost any environment, a vital factor when considering that means you’ll find a good many cheap hosting options.
Most web hosting providers offer a range of plans suitable for different purposes. Shared hosting is usually the cheapest option and easy to use, making it ideal if you’re new to building websites. There are also WordPress-specific plans if you’ve chosen it as your platform of choice.
Two of the most common variants of WordPress-specific plan categories are Managed WordPress hosting and Unmanaged WordPress Hosting. In the former, the web host will be responsible for the technical maintenance of the site, potentially easing workflow.
Today, domain names are often packaged in with the price of most web hosting plans. If this isn’t the case for the plan you choose, you can purchase one from the same service provider or any other source if necessary.
The WordPress theme system can help you easily and quickly establish a design. It’s handy for avoiding lengthy design processes. There are tons of WordPress themes you can use, free and paid.
WordPress offers an official theme library where you can find lots of themes, but it isn’t the only source. If you’d like something more unique, try finding a premium theme on popular marketplaces like Envato.
Website structure is essential to offering your visitors comprehensive information and a good browsing experience. Yet, it’s also critical for SEO purposes and helps Google how the site operates. Because of this, keep in mind the crucial pages a non-profit website should have.
Usually, these include the home, mission, about us, donation, contact, and testimonial page. However, a news or blog section can prove immensely helpful in helping your non-profit website build traffic organically.
If you want to rank your non-profit website higher in the search engine results, you need to implement the SEO basics. Start creating quality content and focus on the right targeted keywords. These elements should be the lifeblood of all content you build.
Aside from that, design elements and off-page SEO are contributing factors. They help boost usability and increase the relevance profile of your page to the rest of the web.
With the requirements out of the way, let’s talk about what makes a non-profit website great. Remember that as a non-profit, visitors will be looking for specific things. Your website needs to show credibility, be easy to use, and have a clear pathway towards getting more donations.
These features and more are reflected partially in the way you build the website. However, a good emphasis also must be put on the right content. The best non-profit websites should have;
Always remember that visitors to your non-profit website will often have reached with a specific purpose in mind. You need to be able to draw them in, convince them, and convert them into donors. It’s very similar to the standard sales process.
One of the most beautiful things about WordPress is its capability of using plugins. These are additional, ready-packaged code modules that snap into place to extend the core functions of the CMS. It is thanks to the use of plugins that we can build any type of website needed.
There are easily tens of thousands of WordPress plugins available. Some are free, while others may come at a fee. While there is an excellent variety of choices, our focus for non-profit websites falls under four main categories;
Given the rising number and complexity of cybersecurity threats, security is an absolute must for all websites. It’s even more so for non-profits that may need to process donations or possibly handle membership information.
While part of the onus for security lies on the web host, adding security plugins can provide an excellent first-line defense against potential attacks. It’s better to use an all-around security plugin to protect against multiple threat vectors, for example, Wordfence or iThemes Security.
Since this is quintessential to non-profit websites, careful consideration needs to go into the plugin you choose for this feature. The donation plugin you choose needs to accept recurring donations and able to integrate to your website easily.
For example, the Donorbox WordPress plugin allows you to place a “donate” button anywhere on your WordPress website. At the same time, it can accept many donation formats such as single-time (ad-hoc donations) or recurring plans (monthly, weekly, quarterly or even annually). It also allows donations via many channels such as cards, Apple Pay, bank transfers, and more.
Earlier, we mentioned that SEO is an excellent way of building holistic traffic to your website. The art of SEO may be a little complex for many to handle. That’s where SEO plugins come in handy; to guide you along.
Several good SEO plugins are available for WordPress, with some of the top names including Yoast SEO and RankMath. Once you plug these in (no pun intended), the plugins provide convenient fields for you to complete and improve your SEO with that information.
Although WordPress now uses a block building system natively, it isn’t the most convenient for building beautiful websites. It’ll work in a pinch but has room for improvement. Luckily, you can choose from many excellent design tools to help your website building process.
For a more overall design-centric plugin, look towards something like Elementor or Beaver builder. If you prefer to enhance the WordPress native block building experience simply, check out Ultimate Blocks for Gutenberg.
Once you’ve built your non-profit website, you also need to spend some time on marketing. New websites take some time to draw a steady stream of traffic, even with the best SEO implementation. Don’t fret, though; there are other ways you can promote your site.
Some ways of doing this include:
Influencers are online personalities that draw and have influence over a group of followers. These personalities are generally open to collaboration, and for non-profits, they may even agree to help out for free if you’re lucky.
Influencer marketing has gained significant traction, and by working with the right personalities, you can get a quick boost to recognition of your website.
If you’re shifting from an “on-the-ground” approach towards the digital space, the chances are that you would have a database of contacts. Make use of it and reach out with a newsletter or announcement to people who already know you.
Use a tool like MailChimp to blast out beautifully designed newsletters quickly. Remember to include links to your website so that your audience can promptly come to pay a visit.
One way of extending your reach is via social media channels. Depending on your needs, you can choose from various platforms and try to engage a wider audience. Many people love supporting a good cause, and it’s a potential way of amplifying volume quickly.
To get you started with some ideas, here are some examples of non-profit websites built with WordPress:
West Seattle Food Bank is a great example of a non-profit website with extremely comprehensive information available. From their history to operational guidelines and everything they do, there are few questions left once you’ve gone over their website.
Treehouse for Kids takes simplicity to the next level, making good use of sharp images that make an impact. The basic structure is easy to navigate, while call-to-actions are clearly visible and easily within reach.
The Technology Access Foundation stays true to its name and makes good use of multiple media types to catch attention. From animated headers to an interactive experience and rich media, there’s everything there to keep visitors engaged.
Building a website on a budget isn’t as challenging today compared to just a few years ago. As long as you know the right areas to focus on and choose the right tools, you can build an impactful and engaging non-profit website quite easily.