Building a Nonprofit Website and Online Presence

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Ensuring your organization is taking full advantage of the web can be a daunting task. However, a good nonprofit website and strong online presence is crucial to managing an organization’s reputation and success. Nonprofits can promote their missions and services online using the following resources.

  1. Website. Your nonprofit’s website is the online storefront of your organization. When creating or redesigning your website, you’ll need to consider the following:
    • Budget. Simple websites can be designed by someone with moderate technology and design skills for next to nothing. Alternately, it is not uncommon for companies to spend several or tens of thousands of dollars to have a website built by a professional design firm. If you do opt to hire a professional web designer, be sure to do significant research and interview several firms before contracting one that can meet your needs and budget.
    • Features. Websites can be as simple as a brochure site that provides general information about your organization, or much more interactive and perhaps even linked to an internal database. Different features require a different level of expertise to implement, and will dramatically affect the cost and timeline of your site design. (Resource: How to Make a Good Nonprofit Website)
    • Domain and Hosting. You need to purchase at least one domain name and set up a hosting account in order to have a website on the World Wide Web. In most cases this can be done through one service provider and only takes a few minutes to set up. (Resource: Best Web Hosting Services for 2015)
    • Platform. WordPress is one of the most common web design platforms, but requires some technical knowledge. Wix and Squarespace are some alternatives that are ideal options for beginner designers. (Resource: Build A Better Website With These 7 Services)
    • Responsiveness. Online viewing on mobile devices has increased dramatically in a very short time, therefore it is vitally important your website is mobile-responsive. Not to worry, most designers and platforms are well prepared to provide responsive designs at no additional cost. (Resource: Why Your Nonprofit Should Have a Responsive Website)
    • Content. Content should be brief and concise, and written with your specific audience in mind. A good practice is to utilize images and videos on your site, but be sure to obtain the proper permissions or licenses from the image owners, as well as any individuals within the images, where necessary. (Resource: 10 Tips for Creating Captivating Nonprofit Websites)
    • SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Search Engine Optimization refers to keywords, tags and metadata within your website so browsers like Google and Firefox will find them and push them to the top of search results. Consider your resources and needs, and research effective SEO strategy, to determine how to effectively boost your website’s ranking. (Resource: Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide)
  2. Social Media. A good rule of thumb many nonprofits follow is to maintain a minimum of two social media profiles. Once you’ve established your profiles, research and implement strategies that will optimize activity and followings on each one. There is an abundance of free and low cost tools online that are designed to help manage multiple social media accounts. (Resources: 12 Best Social Media Management ToolsCanva Design Tool, Social Media Optimization)
  1. Blog. In addition to social media, you may choose to maintain a blog to provide more in-depth content and written work to your audience. A blog can exist separately or be embedded within a website, can act as an e-newsletter, and send content to your social media profiles. (Resource: The 18 Best Blogging and Publishing Platforms on the Internet Today)
  1. Email Newsletter. An email newsletter is a great way to engage with your audience more directly, especially if you have important announcements, events or calls to action. Mailing lists can be organized using existing contact lists, and placing signups on your website, blog and social media is a great way to get more subscribers (Resource: Top Email Marketing Software Products)
  1. Analytics and Alerts. While maintaining a diverse online presence is vital for any modern organization, it is important to review available data and analytics to ensure you online strategy is effective and reaching your ideal audience. Additionally, tools like Google Alerts send notifications based on keywords that can help to monitor your organization’s online presence. Resources: Google AnalyticsKloutGoogle Alerts)
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