Digital Strategy

Nonprofit Website Design: The process for a successful project

August 16, 2021 Nonprofits Decoded Team
nonprofit website development and coding

Today’s nonprofit fundraising landscape is vastly different from the past.

With online giving and social media, it has never been more important for nonprofits to have a website that showcases their work and keeps donors coming back. Websites provide an easy way for donors to give quickly and help organizations cultivate relationships with their supporters through updates on projects or stories.

A clear website also provides a window to learn more about donors, which can help nonprofits show gratitude for their contributions through proper outreach and engagement strategies.

Websites are one of the most important parts of any nonprofit’s ability to fundraise because they provide an easy way for donors to give quickly and connect with organizations on a personal level.

What are the key features of a nonprofit website?

Most nonprofit websites include sections that provide information about the organization, a way for donors to give money quickly in just a few clicks, links to social media channels and blogs where people can learn more.

  • A mission statement or overview about your organization for donors who may not have heard of you before
  • Clear donation buttons at the top of every page, such as “Donate Now,” along with an easy to use donation page
  • Links to social media channels at the bottom of every page so visitors can connect with you there
  • A list or gallery of your current fundraising projects, which show donors how they are helping people in need
  • Clear calls to action for email signups as well as links to other pages on the site
  • Contact information for donors, including a mailing address and phone number.

How does the process begin?

Most nonprofit website design projects begin with a request for a proposal, which includes a discussion about your website needs and goals, or an evaluation of vendors to partner with on the project.

Buyin is important, so make sure key stakeholders are involved in the process.

Answering these questions can help nonprofits determine whether or not they need a website and if so, which type of website will be best suited for their needs:

  • Do I have an online presence?
  • Does my nonprofit produce content regularly on one or more topics?
  • Does my nonprofit have a clear sense of its target audience and why it exists in the first place?
  • Are there recurring needs I need to address with donors or volunteers, such as donating online or volunteering at an event?
  • Do these services exist on other websites that are not related to mine (ex. PayPal)?

What does a website cost for a nonprofit organization?

So what are the potential costs associated with redesigning or developing a nonprofit website? It all depends on your needs and the depth of the website. Do you need it to connect with a donor database? Does it need to accept donations through Stripe, PayPal or another credit card payment processor? Does it need to include a volunteer portal? These questions will help guide the final project scope, along with cost and timeline.

The hosting costs for the website are also an important factor to consider, and it is typically about $150-$300 annually as well.

Where’s the best place to host a WordPress website? Here are seven nonprofit hosting options to consider including one free hosting choice.

Why do so many websites use WordPress?

wordpress for nonprofit websites

WordPress is the most popular platform for nonprofit websites, and it’s not hard to see why. With a range of plugins that can be used freely or purchased inexpensively, WordPress gives nonprofits the ability to customize their website.

Looking to supercharge your WordPress website? Here are 10 WordPress plugins to consider for a successful nonprofit website.

In addition, there are thousands of free templates designed specifically for nonprofits on a budget.

How are nonprofit websites different from other websites?

Nonprofits are just like any other type of company in that they need to make use of a website where people can learn about them. The difference is normal websites might concern themselves with customers or buyers, while nonprofit sites must focus on their donors and the community.

Nonprofits typically focus on directly engaging donors through their site, which differentiates them from for-profit organizations. While all websites should be accessible, accessibility is especially important to nonprofits due in part to their funding structure.

What is the website design process for nonprofits?

The process for designing a nonprofit website is similar to that of other organizations.

Nonprofits should first figure out what they want their site to do and how it will be accessed, then hire the appropriate designer or development team from there. Non-profit websites are typically built on WordPress in order to stay within budget constraints and to allow greater flexibility through the open-source tools built into the content management system (CMS).

Discovery & Planning

Before reaching the creative phase, your website partner will explore your nonprofit’s website goals and target audiences to establish a comprehensive strategy. They’ll also document any required 3rd party integrations you need, and make sure to understand the scope of your project.

Sitemaps

Most designers will first start with a sitemap to explore how all the website content will fit together. This document reveals the hierarchy of the site and helps identify key pages to focus the design efforts on.

website sitemap

Design

No matter what the purpose of your nonprofit, you need an online presence to share your mission. The design phase is important as it defines how viewers interact with and feel about your website and its content.

Development

Website development is an essential process that converts the design into code. Your developer will take the WordPress site through the functionality, third-party integrations, and plugins you need so that it’s responsive and fast with a back-end that allows for goals to be met.

Content

After the website is designed and developed the focus shifts to content. Content includes text, images, and video. It’s important to make sure that your content is compelling, relevant and up-to-date.

Quality Assurance and Launch

Quality assurance is the process of checking for errors, such as broken links or incomplete content. Once you’ve gone through this review with your partner, they will work on launching the website!

In short, it is important to know the needs of your nonprofit and what you want from your website design process and set the proper expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page.