How to Build the Best Nonprofit Website for Your Organization
What’s the best way to prioritize website features and figure out the ideal website configuration for your nonprofit group? Your best answer to this critical question requires a combination of introspection and research—and the time you invest now will pay off in the results your site can accomplish for you.
Figure out what you need
The introspection part is pretty simple. You need to make informed decisions about what your website must include so it can offer your association the functionality it truly needs. In other words, get out a pen and a piece of paper – or the digital equivalent – and make a list of all the things you want your website to do.
Along with your own insights, talk with the rest of your organization, from leadership to regular members, and find out which priorities they would put at the tops of their lists. You may be surprised to find that some items you think are crucial rate lower in priority with other members of your group, or that some items you think are less relevant rate more highly for others.
Research is essential
The research part of the process consists of two phases. During one portion of it, you look for the optimal nonprofit website software provider, with the right combination of features, support, price, and modern approach to keeping up with web development trends and necessities. To accomplish this portion of your research process, you’ll need to spend some time doing a thorough online search for software providers that offer the functionality you need.
Some people skip part two of this process because they’re convinced that they know what they want in a website software provider, and that when they find the right option, they’ll recognize that they’ve done so. This second part involves another online search, this time for the functionality and features that other nonprofits implement in their websites. In other words, how does the other half live?
In this research phase, you’ll probably want to include groups whose mission or vision overlaps with your own, some groups that are similar in size but different in approach, along with a few outliers at the biggest end of the membership spectrum. What types of features do these groups include in their websites? How well have they implemented these features? If you were a member, would you find these sites easy to use, or would you feel frustrated with the setup, navigation, features or lack thereof?
It’s always instructive to take a look at how other organizations accomplish the objectives you’re about to set out to conquer. This review gives you another basis of comparison and insight beyond your own ideas and the input you get from other members of your own organization. Plan to bookmark examples that you really like, or even take screen captures of sites that you find inspiring – or the exact opposite. The process may remind you of building a look book.
Match up your research with your must-haves
Once you’ve seen how other associations approach the functionality you want your website to embody—and, most critically, figured out first exactly what that functionality is—you’re ready to match up your wants with the capabilities offered through the providers you’ve identified through the first phase of your research.
The easiest way to compare a long list of possible website software providers is through a spreadsheet-style configuration of the data you’ve gleaned through your research. Create columns for individual features and make notes in them about how each provider you’re considering tackles that particular need. This type of data matrix makes in-depth comparisons easy, and quickly highlights features that are rare, common, or expensive.
Or simply skip to the head of the line
Once you’ve figured out what your website needs to be able to accomplish to make a meaningful contribution to member communication and association business, maybe you’d rather just skip the rest of the research process and move directly ahead to website development. Guess what: You can find an easy way to do that or take a much more difficult route. If you’re like most nonprofit association leaders, you probably prefer the easy way, so long as it doesn’t involve a compromise in the quality of your results.
This is the point in the process at which we offer you a shameless plug for the quality, depth, functionality, security, and attractive design of the websites you can build using our Membershine platform to support your nonprofit association.
- Secure online payments? Check—for dues and fees as well as for events and other features.
- Communication options that enable you to engage with your members and enable them to engage among themselves? Got that, too—with completely configurable options for which parts of the process you make accessible to the public and which stay private among your membership.
- A really robust event-management system for posting details, selling tickets, and registering attendance? Yep, that’s a central part of our system as well.
- An easy-to-use sign-up process that enables new members to complete their onboarding process quickly, and gives you a full-featured system for configuring your own custom input forms? Of course.
- A modern code base that’s maintained constantly with a continuous stream of updates? Absolutely!
- Professionally designed templates that enable you to create some of the most essential page types easily, quickly, and with attractive results? Yes, indeed.
But you don’t have to take our word for it. We offer you a completely free 30-day trial period, during which you can set up your site, add features to communicate with your members, engage with other leaders in your organization to incorporate their insights, and just generally kick the tires—with no credit card or any other payment details required to sign up.
We’re thoroughly convinced that the combination of our insights into what nonprofit organizations really need for successful website designs and our in-depth fulfillment of those needs will give you exactly the right platform from which to make your mark on the nonprofit universe.