Having a website is essential for nonprofit organizations, because it is the launchpad for interacting with the community they serve. Did you know that 90% of the U.S. population use the internet to find information?
With that in mind, your nonprofit's website should have all your information available for anyone visiting. It should provide information about your organization, upcoming events, and how to join the community as a member or donor.
If you're wondering how to create a website for your nonprofit, here are 7 steps to follow:
- Assemble a Team
- Determine the Objectives of Your Nonprofit’s Website
- Find a Host and Domain Name
- Create Website Architecture
- Think About Design
- Create Content for Your Pages
- Analyze Website Traffic
1. Assemble a Team
A website is supposed to give a "bird’s eye view" of your organization, so that anyone visiting your website can learn about the history, mission, and upcoming events. Unless your nonprofit organization is completely managed by you, this information is likely spread out between the different roles in your organization.
To tackle the website project, you need to assemble a team. First, appoint a team leader to spearhead the website project. This person will plan all the necessary content for the website, and coordinate with everyone in order to meet deadlines.
Then, you can divide the website responsibilities, depending on your team members’ skill sets. If someone has experience designing graphics or adding text to photos, you should ask them to help create visually appealing graphics to help your website "sparkle".
Finally, identify external "advisors." Their role would be to review the website while it’s in progress and again at the end of the project, to provide constructive feedback.
Once your website team is formed, set deadlines! You will be able to keep making progress if you stick to your timeline.
Jules has gathered a great team to
create the website!
2. Determine the Objectives of Your Nonprofit’s Website
Before diving into the design phase, you should set objectives for the website, to make the purpose of your website very clear.
What is your main objective for your website? Do you want to promote your events to sell more tickets? Are you hoping to attract new members and donors? Are you needing to keep your members updated?
You also should consider your nonprofit organization’s values and the image you want to convey to your website visitors.
Make sure your goals and values are reflected in the following steps: website layout, choice of words, colors, etc.
3. Find a Host and Domain Name
If you’re using Wix, Squarespace, AssoConnect, or another Content Management System (CMS) to build your website, you can purchase a domain name directly through those hosts.
The domain name is the equivalent of your home address. People will always know that they can find your nonprofit there. The domain name is registered with a web host, which keeps your website accessible to visitors online. You will need to renew your domain each year, so make sure website expenses are in your budget.
Nonprofit website domains usually look like this:
www. + [organization name]. + org
Pro Tip: The first part of the domain name ("www") is no longer required. You can just print "yournonprofitname.org" on posters and flyers to save space and ink!
If you have a long organization name, consider abbreviating it or use an acronym. Once you come up with possible domain names, you can check Google Domains to see if it is available. Each domain name must be unique, so you may need to be creative to find a solution if your domain name is not available!
4. Create a Website Structure
Let’s continue planning for the website as if it’s your home. When guests enter your home, they would see the entryway, a living room, a hallway leading to the kitchen, a bedroom, etc.
This is similar to creating the structure for a website. While you’re working on your website, think of yourself as an "architect" with one goal: to make the website easy for everyone to navigate!
What do you want your visitors to see first? That information should be highlighted clearly on the "home page".
What if your visitors want to find out more? Each website should have a menu that lists all available pages. In the menu, the pages should be listed under categories that are intuitive. For example, the "About Us" category should contain pages such as "Our Mission", "Team and Board", and "Our Partners".
You should also reflect on the goals that you set for your website at the beginning. If your goal is to encourage visitors to donate, the "Donate" or "Support Us" button should be super clear on your website. Don’t hide it in a menu or force visitors to click multiple times before they finally see the link!
We recommend that the top of the page ("header") and the bottom of the page ("footer") should always be visible, no matter which page is currently displayed. This will help your visitor tremendously, because these two sections of the website are like maps, in case they need to quickly locate specific pages.
5. Keep An Eye on Design
A website that is interesting and has tons of visuals will encourage visitors to keep clicking and exploring pages. This is why it’s important for your website to look its best.
To find out more about website design, check out this article on 7 Design Tips to Help Your Nonprofit's Website Stand Out.
Ryan likes how the website looks,
after applying some snazzy design tips!
6. Create Content for Your Pages
In his book Don't Make Me Think, Steve Krug calls for website pages to be as simple as possible, so that visitors can immediately understand what they are looking at. There are specialists in "user experience" (UX) who design and test how to improve website navigation.
In a nutshell, here are some guidelines to remember:
Highlight the most important information, because most visitors will scan the text, rather than read everything carefully.
Less is more! (Remove filler words and sentences)
Use universally understood words and images. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Images and graphics are powerful for communicating messages at a glance, so you may find it worthwhile to invest some time in creating visuals for your pages.
7. Analyze Website Traffic
Congrats! Your website is now live on the internet. Now what?
Once your new website is launched, you can continue to tweak your website to meet your visitors’ needs and preferences. It’s not set in stone, so you can adjust it to maximize the website’s impact.
Using the analytics tools to measure website traffic, you can discover how people access your website, which pages are most popular, and where your viewers are located in the world. Besides using the analytics tools available on the platform you created your website on, Google Analytics is another useful tool that tells you which keywords and phrases people search for before they click on your website.
This information is valuable for determining whether your goals for the website match your visitors’ goals for visiting your website.
Without going too much into the details of each step, these are the 7 steps for creating or redesigning your nonprofit organization’s website.
The idea is to give you a guideline to stay on track and avoid wasting valuable time. Maintaining a website is a long-term project, so it’s important to avoid taking too many detours!
If you are planning to create or redesign your website, try out AssoConnect’s website tool - specifically created for nonprofits to maximize their website’s potential. Also, check out the best nonprofit websites for some inspiration.
Request a demo for your free 30-day trial to see how easy it is to create a website
on AssoConnect, trusted by 15,000+ nonprofits!