As a nonprofit you have a lot on your plate. You’ve been told your organization needs a website but you’re just not sure. You’re told every organization should have a website because it’s 2018, because everyone else has one, because you’re missing out! How can you find out if you really do need a web presence or if it’s just another distraction for you to deal with?
I’m here to tell you that no organization should assume they need a website. It’s a decision that is unique to your nonprofit and requires some critical thought.
Let’s start by considering the 3 main reasons your nonprofit does not need a website so you can put the topic to rest once and for all.
Your organization does not need a website if:
- You’ve already spread awareness of your mission far and wide. There are no corners of the earth left that haven’t heard your message.
- You’ve helped everyone that your cause supports. There’s no one left.
- You have all the funding you need to carry out you mission. More money would just be a nuisance.
There you have it. If you don’t need a website you can stop reading now. Everyone else, let’s keep going…
The reality is most nonprofits still have more awareness to spread, more people to help, and more funding needed to carryout their mission. Since, nonprofits also have the challenge of doing more with less you might be thinking that adding a website to your plate is just another distraction you don’t have time for. I would suggest having a website will save you time – like exponential amounts of time!
Volunteers are crucial to the success of a nonprofit but there are only so many volunteers willing and able to help, so many hours in a day, so many skills and abilities available from the volunteers. Compare that with a well designed website that can manage thousands of people at a time, is available 24/7/365, is reliable, versatile and has virtually unlimited skills and abilities.
An online presence is expected nowadays. Especially if you want to be trusted and viewed as legitimate. And, it can provide continual benefits to your organization that far exceed the initial investment
Consider the typical goals a nonprofit strives to meet and the way a well designed, highly effective website can meet and often exceed those objectives.
Increase Awareness of your Mission
- We are visual beings and nothing stirs our emotions more than colorful, impactful imagery. Through strategic use of photos and videos your website has the ability to engage and motivate people to learn more about our organization, care about your cause and get involved. charitywater.org gets it right. Imagine the same web page without the photo of a happy child delighting in fresh water?
- Clearly articulated and carefully worded content conveys your mission consistently and concisely so all site visitors receive and process the same information about you and your cause. Ambiguity and confusion are trust killers and trust is huge if you want your mission to be successful. charitywater.org again gets it right. There is no question that their mission is to provide clean water to those who don’t have it.
- Highly effective websites are search engine optimized so when someone is interested in a cause like yours, they easily find you in the search results. No waiting for a staffed office to open. They find and learn about you when its convenient for them – on their timeline.
- Your website has the ability to craft a unique experience for each target audience group because each one is motivated differently. Those who share in your mission are motivated to get involved by attending an upcoming event or to make a donation. Those who need your help sense your empathy and feel safe reaching out for help.
Help More People
- A thoughtfully designed website that speaks empathetically to those in need can provide a safe environment when they are the most vulnerable.
- Testimonials from those who have been helped in the past can also offer relief and a sense of community that they are not alone in this battle.
- Your website can serve as a safe first step toward seeking help by providing answers to frequently asked questions such as “How can this organization help me?”, “Do I qualify for help?”, “What’s the process?”. An FAQs page also frees up time for your volunteers to focus in other areas of the cause.
- An online presence makes it fast and easy to initiate the help by offering an online application and qualification process.
Acquire More Funding Support
- According to the Nonprofit Source, 67% of nonprofits across the globe are set up to accept online donations. Does that mean you should too? Not necessarily, but knowing that “$128 dollars is the average online donation amount” you may want to reconsider.
- Nowadays people expect a legitimate organization to have a web presence. Especially your donors who want to give money. A professional looking, engaging website instills trust – and trust is huge! It shows you are serious and active with the mission by leveraging modern means to support the cause.
- By providing online donation methods your supporters can give easily, conveniently and safely. The more convenient it is, the more people will donate. It only takes minutes to pay using PayPal or credit card but can take days for a check to reach you. And, you have less trips to the bank.
- For those that would rather make a donation via check, the website can provide payment and mailing instructions alleviating your staff from having to reiterate this information on the phone over and over.
- Supporters want to know that the organization is active. Your web presence can demonstrate activity by regular blog posts, email newsletters and event calendars.
Now that you understand the benefits a web presence can offer your organization you may be wondering where to begin the journey. Just thinking about how to take the next step can be daunting but it doesn’t have to be. Finding the right web designer is a process and you have to start at the beginning.
The key is you are looking for more than just a website for your organization. You are looking for a relationship, a partner, a company that is interested in helping you grow your mission.
First, find a reputable web designer that focuses on nonprofits. Google can be helpful or better yet, contact your local nonprofit association or a counterpart for a referral. Get several referrals.
Next, reach out to the web designers to initiate a project. You aren’t bound to anything at this point, you are merely exploring your options. Many web designers will require a form be completed to begin the process, others will begin with a phone call. An effective web designer will ask the right questions about your organization and what you want to achieve.
Finally, obtain several proposals and review each carefully. Resist the urge to go directly to the pricing section. Instead, really get a sense of the quality the designer will deliver. Do they understand your organization, your needs and goals? Do you trust them? Are they easy to communicate with? Are they knowledgeable and professional? The website will be with you for a long time so it’s important to take the time and vet out your new partner.
I hope your takeaway from this article is that careful thought and consideration should be taken when deciding to implement a website for your organization rather than being pressured into it. It’s important to know the potential benefits an online presence can offer so your expectations are set appropriately and you can be better prepared to engage a web designer in next step discussions.
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We’d love to hear about your experience. Were you faced with the decision to have a website implemented? What did you decide? Why or why not? What challenges did you face with making this decision and how did you overcome them? Do you have any advice for other nonprofits faced with the same decision? Please share your comments below.