Creating a Nonprofit Website is Vitally Important
Like any business, a successful nonprofit needs a website. Having a website proves your nonprofit’s credibility, makes you more accessible to donors, increases awareness, and builds a relationship with the community. However, building a website from scratch is no small task. Thankfully, there are a number of useful, easy-to-use website builders out there that nonprofits can use for creating a nonprofit website.
Registering a Domain Name
Before a nonprofit can even consider how to build their website, they must first register a domain name. The sooner a nonprofit can buy a domain name similar to their organization name the better. A domain name is a series of letters and even numbers that serve as the address for a website; it is what an individual will type into the search bar to find your nonprofit’s website. To register a domain for your nonprofit, contact your Internet service provider; they can register your domain name – if it’s available – for an annual cost.
What to Look for in a Website Builder:
- Paid vs Free Software: Building and maintaining a website can be time-consuming, but it does not have to be expensive. There are many easy-to-use website builders that can help create a basic, functioning website for free. However, as one might expect, paid website builders or paid add-ons on free builders add a number of useful features, which are often worth the cost. Ultimately, the choice between a free or paid website builder is for a nonprofit to make, but there are good options either way.
- Features for Your Audience: Making a website for your nonprofit should help your nonprofit. A website builder should give you tools or features to do this, such as donation interfaces, mailing lists, and an ability to connect to social media accounts.
- Be Beginner Friendly: Whether or not a person on staff has website building experience, it is important to seek a user-friendly website builder. No one should spend any more time than necessary on building a website.
- Offer Clean, Professional Templates: Websites are largely a visual space; a well-designed, appealing website will boost a nonprofit’s credibility and engagement with potential donors.
7 of the Best Website Builders and Their Features:
SimpleSite: The Easiest to Use
The user-friendly interface of SimpleSite makes building a nonprofit website stress-free, which is exactly what the Founder of SimpleSite wanted. It is so simple and intuitive that a website can go from concept to reality in around 5 minutes. However, because SimpleSite is so simple, it does lack in some features (when compared to other website builders on this list). But some features from SimpleSite include: customization that can match the website to your nonprofit branding, mobile responsiveness (making it available and functional on any and all devices), and a built-in store on the free plan, which gives a nonprofit the option to do some fundraising online. Overall, SimpleSite is limited but free, easy-to-use, and does allow for donations on a free plan.
SITE123: Beginner Friendly with Donations on a Free Plan
Much like SimpleSite, SITE123 is another user-friendly website builder. The website templates are organized and professional-looking; all one needs to do this change the text and upload some images to get their website up and running. Some of the tops features for SITE123 include a self-explanatory dashboard for building, templates which automatically translate onto mobile devices, the ability to receive donations, and the ability to run multiple websites through one, free account. However, as expected, the paid plan does unlock more useful features that are much less limiting.
Weebly: The Best for Fundraising
Through primarily used for e-commerce, Weebly’s features greatly benefit nonprofit’s for fundraising. Building a site through Weebly is fairly simple; it uses a drag-and-drop interface to create and customize the website’s layout. After this, a nonprofit can setup a variety of donation features at fixed amounts or sell products like t-shirts, water bottles, and more. Weebly also recognizes and tracks email addresses of visitors, creating contact forms for website owner’s, which can make donation tracking and follow-up easier. Best of all, all of these features are available on the free plan; however, donation capabilities are only available in the United States.
Wix: Templates, Templates, Templates
Unlike some of other website builders out there, Wix offers users an assortment of templates. For nonprofits in particular, Wix has a little under 20 website templates specifically designed for nonprofits to use. Each template is customizable – from color and font to adding free apps. Overall, Wix offers a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor tool, apps suited for nonprofit websites (mailing lists, volunteer sign ups, and direct donations), mobile-friendly templates, and search engine optimization to ensure a website ranks well in search engine results. However, all of the e-commerce and donation features are not free with Wix; they are only included on paid plans.
Bootstrap: Mobile-First Websites
If mobile access from any device is important to a nonprofit, Bootstrap may be the best option. Created by an engineering team from Twitter, Bootstrap gives nonprofit the tools to create unique, mobile-friendly websites. However, Bootstrap is not necessarily for first-timers; it relies on some simple coding but coding nonetheless, which makes it the most demanding of the website builders. Yet — because Bootstrap does not rely on premade templates — it does offer the most freedom to a nonprofit when building a website, and it is free.
WordPress: For Future Growth
Although it can come with a bit of a learning curve, WordPress is another great option for nonprofits. It is a powerful builder with a wide variety of themes and customization options. It is not the easiest to use on this list, but it is not the most difficult either. With WordPress, the learning curve is the most worth overcoming. Its backend editor for a website provides an unchallengeable assortment of options to customize a website and preview the changes instantly before implementing them. WordPress also offers a sizeable library of plugins like Kickstarter and DonorBox for fundraising. Unfortunately, these plugins are only available on a paid plan. While WordPress is free, the paid plans are a must but are absolutely worth the money.
Squarespace: Easy-to-Use and Great for a Test Drive
Of all the website builders on this list, Squarespace is the only one that is not offered at some capacity for free; however, Squarespace does offer a 14-day free trial of their platform, which is great way to not only test a new website but test the platform. Most who try Squarespace find that it is not free for a reason: because it is so good. Websites built by Squarespace look great and are navigated easily. Some of the greatest assets for a nonprofit are the built-in donation button (which can be customized and does not force a nonprofit to go through a third-party), data exporting, seamless template switching, and 24/7 customer support. Overall, Squarespace may not be free, but it is consistently found to be worth the investment.
Website Builders Are Here to Help
Building a website can be time-consuming, but with the right platform and determination, any nonprofit can make a stellar site. After registering a domain name, all it takes is choosing the website builder that can best suit your nonprofit’s needs. Some may desire simplicity and opt for a free plan while others may go full force into a paid plan with all of the features they typically entail. The technology is out there; it just takes a few simple steps to seize it and build the website your nonprofit needs.
For more tips, tricks, advice, and guides on how to make the most of your nonprofit, be sure to click around our website.
By Richard Morris