Every business needs recognition and nonprofits are no exception. The best way to get recognition is by creating a digital presence. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations that would like to spread their message far and wide.
Whether they need to raise funds, build awareness about a particular cause, or just want to create an online presence, this article is about them.
In this article, we will discuss why nonprofit businesses need to create a digital presence and the right way to do it. But first…
Why Nonprofits Need a Website
A website alone is not the only option available for nonprofits. They can also go for social media pages/accounts to spread their message. The only problem is that these social media accounts will limit them to a selected medium.
A few reasons why a website for nonprofits will be a far better option instead of a social media account include:
- A website gives more exposure to the brand
- Interested people can learn more about the nonprofit brand through its website
- Nonprofits can also use their website to collect donations by setting up a payment gateway system
- They can share their regular activities including seminars, events, press releases, presentations, and much more
- They can also create a community where others can engage and come up with better solutions
- They can also use the website to promote a particular cause
A nonprofit website should look simple and attractive. Here is the basic structure of an introductory page of the website. This type doesn’t even require a huge budget.
Set a Website Budget
Budget: $500 to $1000
To create your nonprofit’s website. You should have an estimated budget in place. Let’s say you are starting a small nonprofit business and you have a budget of around $500.
In this budget, what type of website will suit your business? The type of website you choose depends on the content you need to publish on it.
Let’s make a list of content types that you would possibly want to publish on the site.
- Recent updates, blogs, and press releases
- Gallery section for pictures and videos
- Posts such as causes, campaigns, and events
- Collecting donations with a real-time change in collected donation amount (crowdfunding script integration)
- The payment gateway for donations, purchases, and event registrations
These are just some of the elements that can make a website an asset for the nonprofit business. Though the website will work with just blogs and press releases, it is important to have a payment gateway to accept donations/funds as that helps website visitors easily navigate and donate their money/funds for a particular cause.
However, considering that not all NGOs have the budget to add all these features to the website, they can start small.
Type of Nonprofit Website
Here is a list of various website templates that nonprofits can choose from.
1. Small Business Website
Budget: $100 to $500
Nonprofits are only interested in creating a digital presence can opt to create a small business website. This type of website is also called a portfolio website. It doesn’t cost much, and most developers will charge around $100 to set one up for you. Host the website on a host of your choice but be wary of traffic surges.
Budget: less than $500
All those nonprofit companies that are interested in updating their followers about their progress can create a blogging website. A blogging website requires a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress, Magento, Drupal, Joomla, etc.
Our recommendation is WordPress because it is the most widely used CMS platform and completely free to use.
3. Crowdfunding Website
Budget: $1000 or more
Next, we have crowdfunding platforms for nonprofit companies. Most established nonprofit companies like to collect funds directly on their website. This requires them to integrate ecommerce payment gateway and crowdfunding functionality on the website.
The end result would be something like a GoFundMe or Kickstarter platform. The benefit of having such a website is that it allows them to get donations in real-time without any significant effort.
4. Ecommerce Website
Budget: $1000 or more
Finally, we have ecommerce websites for nonprofit companies that would also like to sell products through their website(s). Just like a crowdfunding website, the ecommerce website also requires payment gateway integration, a checkout page for information of the buyer and product listings. This is a complex website and usually requires the service of a developer.
Choose a Nonprofit Website Platform
Once you have decided upon the type of website you will need for your nonprofit company, the next step is to select a platform. A few platforms that you can choose for your website include:
We will be discussing WordPress, WooCommerce, and Magento in detail.
1. Selecting WordPress – Is It the Right Choice for Nonprofit Websites?
WordPress is a widely used CMS platform and pretty easy to set up. Anyone with no experience can start a blog on WordPress by watching a few videos over the internet.
For nonprofits website, WordPress provides a simple, clean, and friendly interface that allows its users to customize, curate, and publish WordPress websites by themselves.
Step by step process to Install a WordPress website:
1. Download WordPress on your hosting server. If you are using Cpanel based web hosting panel, you will have a software called Softiculous available on the server. It offers one-click installation for WordPress.
2. Now install a theme for your WordPress installation.
3. Add relevant plugins like Disqus for comment moderation, All-in-one SEO for on-site optimization, and more.
4. Choose the layout of your website so that it looks appealing. If you have purchased a paid theme for WordPress, you will get a tutorial video with it to adjust the layout of the theme.
5. Your nonprofit website is ready for publishing. Start posting relevant content to it.
2. Selecting WooCommerce – Is It the Right Choice for Nonprofit Websites?
WooCommerce is used to manage small and mid-sized ecommerce platforms. WooCommerce is a plugin for WordPress CMS by Automattic. It is a complete ecommerce platform and allows users to set it up in minutes. WooCommerce can be downloaded from WordPress.org.
For nonprofits, the WooCommerce platform offers multiple options and the ability to add crowdfunding and payment gateway functionality to their websites.
Here is how nonprofits can create a WooCommerce store.
1. First of all, install WordPress. You can see the whole process of installing WordPress in the above section.
2. Now, download the WooCommerce plugin and optimize it. This blog has written a complete article on how to add crowdfunding functionality to WooCommerce.
3. Selecting Magento – Is It the Right Choice for Nonprofit Websites?
nonprofit websites don’t really need a Magento ecommerce store for their digital presence. But let’s say that the nonprofit site wants to transform its services into a crowdfunding platform like GoFundMe. In that case, they can benefit from Magento. Magento powers around 10% of the internet and is a highly scalable, sustainable ecommerce platform. Installing Magento is not easy, especially when you are on a cloud server. For that purpose, you will need to go for a managed solution like Cloudways or you can hire a developer to install it. The complete tutorial to install Magento on a cloud server is available for you to read.
What’s Next: Marketing & Maintenance Costs
The cost of maintenance varies for each type of nonprofit website. Let’s discuss the substantial points that you should keep in focus.
1. Maintenance Cost
Nonprofit websites don’t require much maintenance. An update every year is fine for most small business websites and blogging websites. However, ecommerce websites require technical support from time to time. You may have to hire a developer to make some changes to the site as well. Therefore, the maintenance cost of an ecommerce website is higher.
A WooCommerce developer may charge $500 for maintenance per month, while a Magento developer may charge $1000+.
It is better if you choose WooCommerce for your nonprofit website if you plan to start a crowdfunding platform as that will be low cost.
2. Marketing Cost
Marketing is essential for any startup, may it be profit or nonprofit. For the marketing of your nonprofit, keep a separate budget. In the beginning, you may only focus on search engines and social media. This will require around $500 for the first year. The cost will increase further with time, so you must ensure to increase the budget by at least 20% per year.
Technical Details for Nonprofit Website Set up
A few essentials for your website include domain, hosting, and relevant plugins and themes that serve as the base. Let’s learn how and where to find them.
i. Buy a Domain
Get a domain from any trusted domain provider. A few good ones are Godaddy, NameCheap, and Domain.com, and Domains.google. The cost of a domain varies from $15 for a .com or a .org domain to $18 for a .net domain to $20 for a country level domain.
ii. Buy Hosting
You can choose from shared, dedicated or cloud hosting. Shared hosting isn’t a good option since it is slow, has a higher downtime, and doesn’t have good support. You would not want your website to experience higher downtime.
Similarly, a dedicated host would cost a lot for hosting the website. Also, if your platform gets a lot of traffic on a daily basis, choosing a dedicated hosting server will be heavy on your pocket.
A better option is to select a cloud hosting solution. Cloud hosting is cheap, scalable, and fast. We recommend that you choose a managed cloud hosting platform. This way, you won’t have to start everything from scratch. Managed cloud hosting for nonprofits on will also allow users to install CMS solutions like WordPress, WooCommerce, Magento, and others on a single click. There are many cloud hosts like DigitalOcean, AWS, and Google Cloud or you can go for our very own managed cloud.
iii. Create a Nonprofit Website Pages
Once your website is set up, you will need a few pages that will convey to visitors what your website is all about. You can add the following pages to your website.
- About Us
- Contact Us
These are the essential pages of your website. However, if you want to limit the pages, then simply remove ‘Partners’ and ‘Team’ from the website.
iv. Add Helpful Plugins
You must add plugins that can help your website get indexed in the search engines faster. A few plugins you can use on WordPress and WooCommerce include:
- All in One SEO
- AMP Plugin
- Disqus for Comments
- Breeze Web Cache
Start with these plugins while setting up your website. Later, add more plugins that suit your needs.
Test & Go Live
Your website is finally ready. Congratulations!
Now it is time to take it live. So, start first by posting relevant, attractive, and shareable content. It is better to create a content calendar that can streamline your processes and remove any bottlenecks that can hinder progress.
Once you are done with the technical changes, it is time for the promotion of the website on all mediums. Therefore, start promoting your website through social media, search engines, and even paid ads. You may need to hire a few marketing experts and some digital consultants, in the long run, to bring your site in SERPs and soon you will be getting the attention you want.
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