How to make a website for your nonprofit

You can create a visually appealing website without spending too much money or time.

Design principles go a long ways in making a successful website.

Design principles go a long ways in making a successful website. Image by Shutterstock, illustration by Zach Williams

If you keep a few design principles in mind, you can create a visually appealing website that will amplify your nonprofit’s voice and drive home your mission – all without spending too much money or time.

The Fairy Godsister mentors high-potential young women through the developmentally crucial ages of 16-24. We pair mentees with successful women to help them develop leadership skills, attain academic success, and grow both personally and emotionally. So we needed to make sure our website could effectively attract and communicate with potential mentors, as well as other supportive community members.

We’ve learned that you don’t need to overcomplicate the process of developing a strong online presence. Below is the checklist we used to ensure our website would make a professional impression and inspire visitors to get involved. These basics can work for your nonprofit as well.

  1. The basics: Design and domain

The first step – and often the biggest hurdle – is to establish yourself online by registering your domain and designing your website.

We’re not developers, and between running The Fairy Godsister, raising funds, and everything else, we don’t have the time or resources to learn to code from scratch. Fortunately with many website development platforms, you can drag and drop elements on your website and arrange them how you want on the page. We used wix.com because of its ease of use, powerful backend, and ability to quickly create a beautiful website. It helped us get our domain registered and create a professional online presence on a tight budget, and we we were able to invest the time we saved back into reaching our organization’s goals.

To register a unique domain name for your website, use a domain registration service or inquire as to whether you can register your domain directly through your web design platform.

  1. Content: Relevant and high-quality

Like many nonprofits, along with fulfilling our core mission The Fairy Godsister must raise awareness, fundraise and encourage people to volunteer. These are important goals, but if your cause is not apparent then it is going to be hard to get traction. This is where content comes in.

Because the details of your organization are so familiar to you, it can be easy to omit information that’s actually critical to those learning about you for the first time. We kept our mission top of mind while we designed our website, making sure to feature it prominently in the header of our website. We also make each photo in our home slideshow link to pages where newcomers can find more information about who we are and what we do.

When writing your content, it’s helpful to always think: what’s my call-to-action? What do I want my site visitors to do? Once you answer these questions, make that action easy to achieve. Remove information that adds clutter and distracts from what you want site visitors to do. Ways to do this are simple: clearly display your mission on your homepage, and make links to volunteering opportunities or donations easy to find.

To make your donation or volunteering section standout, include buttons that are easy for people to find. We used Wix’s Get Funding button which easily links to to our PayPal account - it can also link to any major bank account. You can also make the button big or colorful. On thefairygodsister.org, we put a pink circle around the donation button on our main menu, which immediately draws your eye to that specific link.

  1. Getting technical: Keywords and SEO

Ok – you’re online, you have a website and your domain is connected. Now, how will people find your amazing new website? This is when you have to start thinking about SEO: Search Engine Optimization.

When we designed our site, we learned that search engines rank your site based on keywords, inbound links and the frequency of visitors going to your site, all of which affect your ranking in Google search results. For The Fairy Godsister, we used words and phrases that we thought people might use in seeking a mentor or a mentee, or if they’re interested in promoting leadership, solidarity and academic and personal growth among young women.

Some web building platforms integrate directly with Google. Our platform integrates with Google Search Console through its SEO Wiz tool which helped make The Fairy Godsister searchable almost immediately after we’d created it and helped us navigate making it rank higher in search results.

      4. Making it interactive: Blogs, newsletters, social media

Lastly, we wanted to make sure our visitors could interact with our site, so we started a newsletter to keep our volunteer network up to date on important events and activities. We created a Member’s Lounge, where our volunteers and mentees can interact with each other and inspire each other through their own personal stories. Our website is also connected to our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. This way, we’ve made it easy for people to follow us in several places, increasing their chances of seeing something that might inspire them to get involved.

Getting online can actually be relatively inexpensive and take less than a day. In exchange, our website helps us fulfill our mission by getting our message out about how we are helping close the gender gap by empowering women. 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.