If you’re part of a non-profit organisation, a non-profit website is key for communicating your message with the world and raising awareness of your cause. 2020 saw an increase internet users across the UK’s adult population. The stats rose from 91% in 2019 to 92% in 2020. With this in mind, it’s easy to that building a website for your non profit organisation is a fantastic way to grow an audience.
If you’re new to the website-building game, you may be wondering where to start. The process does not have to be as difficult or costly as you may think. I’m going to show you how to get your non-profit organisation onto the world wide web.
1) Plan Your Content
Your first step in building your website will be to determine what to include in it. There are some elements that every non-profit site should have and it will help to establish how you will present these. Consider including the following in your plan:
Your budget – You can build a website easily at absolutely no cost but you may instead think about putting some money into the venture. Start by establishing what your organisation can afford to spend setting your website up, as well as what you can afford for ongoing costs like hosting and marketing.
A mission statement – A mission statement will state the purpose or your organisation and what it hopes to achieve. You can build your content around it. Ideally, it should be relatively short and snappy, as there will be space to go into more detail in other areas of your site, such as your ‘About’ page.
Call-to-action – Ever heard of the saying “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”? If you want your audience to take an action, whether it’s making a donation, volunteering, subscribing to your blog, or contacting you for more information, you need to have a call-to-action.
Blog – A blog is a brilliant method of communicating, building trust, and establishing yourself as an authority in your niche. This is true for any business, non-profit or otherwise. While you don’t necessarily need to write any blog posts before you build your site, it will be useful to have an idea beforehand of topics you will cover and the frequency of which you will post them.
Social media channels – If you’re building a website, consider also signing up for a couple of social media channels as other means of communication. This will enable you to cross-promote your organisation and reach as many people as possible.
Now you have your plan in place, let’s take a look at the practical steps you need to build your non-profit website.
2) Decide on Your Platform
As a non-profit organisation, you will probably want to keep costs as low as possible. Luckily, there are plenty of free and low-cost website-building platforms on the net. Most provide their own hosting and domain name registration too, making it even more straightforward.
Many site builders have a free plan option. Although, these can be rather basic and limited in their bandwidth and storage space. This may be fine if you’re starting out. But, if you want to grow your website, you are likely to run into problems down the line. Free website builders also contain ads or branding. These are some things to consider if you’re debating whether or not to go for a free site.
Some of the best free website builders are:
Wix is my top pick out of these four options. It has a simple-to-use drag-and-drop interface, making it ideal for people not familiar with website building. It has over 800 templates to choose from and hundreds of apps ready to be integrated into your site. Many the of the apps are free too, which is a bonus. Examples of useful apps include social media buttons, PayPal and other funding apps, logo designs, analytics, events, and SEO tools.
If you choose the free Wix plan, you will not be able to have your own domain name. So it will look like this: accountname.wixsite.com/siteaddress. To connect your own domain, it will cost you £3.50 per month for the most basic paid plan. This plan also displays ads on your site. For an ad-free experience, you will need to choose the ‘Combo’ plan for £6.50 per month.
You can always start off with the free plan and upgrade as and when you need to. But, the good thing about Wix is that if you want to remain with the free plan, you can do so for as long as you like.
3) Register a Domain
When it comes to registering your domain, your choice of platform will walk you through the steps. Most website builders have plans that include a custom domain. For instance, Site123’s Premium plan, costing $12.80/month, includes a free domain for a year.
As you’re an organisation, consider choosing a .org domain. And when it comes to naming your domain, you might find that your organisation’s name is already taken. In this case, you will need to come up with something else. Some options are abbreviating it or using an acronym.
4) Design and Add Your Logo
Your logo is how people will identify your business. It will be part of your branding campaign. As with website building, there are free tools for logo designing across the internet, as well as ones you pay for.
FreeLogoDesign is great for, you guessed, designing free logos. It is user-friendly and you can either select a template or start with a blank canvas. It can also generate a logo for you which you can customise yourself; handy if you’re stuck for design inspiration.
Another great platform for designing your logo is Canva. Canva is good for lots of design projects including logos, social media banners, posters, business cards, invitations, and even mugs and t-shirts. Canva’s free plan gives you access to more than 250,000 templates and hundreds of thousands of photos and graphics.
Once you’re happy with your logo, download it onto your computer then upload it to your website.
5) Add Your Pages
As a non-profit organisation, you don’t want your site to have too many pages filled with unnecessary content. This could make your website slower and take up valuable storage space that could be better used elsewhere. Too much stuff could also distract your visitors from your core message.
Stick with the following essentials:
Home Page – Your home page should have clear images and essential text. It isn’t normally a place for long pieces of writing. Briefly describe what your organisation does and encourage navigation to other areas of your website. Put the most important elements, such as your mission statement and call-to-actions, above the page fold (the part you can see when you land on the page).
About Page – This page is a place to go into more detail about your mission and explain to your audience what your organisation is all about. You can include why it matters to you and how you hope to achieve your mission.
News and Events – This is a place to showcase your good works and inform your audience of upcoming events.
Get Involved – Tell your audience what they can do to help your cause such as volunteering. As well as placing a donation button on your homepage, you can also add one here.
Blog – As mentioned earlier in the article, a blog is a great communication tool that every organisation should have. Ensure to encourage blog subscribers so you can build an audience for email campaigns.
Contact Page – Last but not least, you need a contact page where people can get in touch with you easily. Add a convenient contact form with just a few fields; Name, Email Address, Query. You can also add a contact form at the bottom of your homepage if you like.
6) Connect Your Social Media Channels
Finally, connect your social media channels to your website. This can be done with social media buttons that can be placed on your web pages. Next, add your website to your social media channels. You want to make connecting with you across multiple platforms as easy as possible by linking them all up. Doing so will enable your followers on social media to quickly find your website and/or blog, and vice versa.
Building a non-profit website might seem a bit daunting, especially if you’ve never done anything like it before. But, many of the steps involved are not as complicated as they may seem. Website-builders are particularly helpful because they walk you through many of the steps and take care of some aspects, like website hosting, for you. Take it one step at a time and you will have your non-profit site up and running.