How to Create a Low-Cost Web Presence for Your Nonprofit - dummies

How to Create a Low-Cost Web Presence for Your Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

Having a web presence for your nonprofit is as important as being listed in the telephone book or printing a brochure. A basic website isn’t difficult to create. You want an overview of your agency on the home page and a few additional pages where people find out more about your organization’s leaders and programs. Including strong photographs of your organization’s work in action can make your website more appealing.

A few key features include:

  • A “Get Involved” page or menu of pages that lets readers know what they can do to help your cause. Involvement invitations can range from removing blackberry bushes from hiking trails to taking and uploading pictures of the playground your nonprofit is building to sharing information with friends about the organization’s work.

  • A contact page with phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Not only does a contact page suggest that you’re available to provide more information, but it’s also a means by which your organization can begin gathering e-mail addresses for further communications about events, programs, and fundraising.

  • Clear information about how to make a contribution to your nonprofit — preferably a “donate now” feature for collecting donations.

  • Icons for all your social media networks. It’s an easy way for your website visitors to like or follow your organization. You can also add the icons to the signature in your e-mail and ask your staff to do the same.

In good time, you can add bells and whistles to your website: a gallery of photographs or short videos, articles about your field, a blog or discussion board, and much more. But keep in mind that as you add features to your website, you’re also increasing the number and types of things that need to be maintained.

If you’re looking for assistance with creating a website, you may find free or low-cost help at a local college or university. Often students majoring in graphic arts, design, educational technology, and technical writing are required to complete internships or capstone projects as part of their degree programs. You may find a talented, eager designer by contacting his department or by reaching out to the campus’s community-service learning program.

Another option is to search online for a graphic artist through Volunteer Match. If you do use such a volunteer, make sure that person leaves behind clear information about how you can continue to refresh the site in the future.

An unattended website leaves a bad impression. Broken links and out-of-date information tell the reader that your organization isn’t paying attention to communicating with its constituents. If you’re going to have a website, assign someone in your organization the task of checking on and updating it regularly. If your budget allows, consider hiring a web design firm or web-savvy individual to create and maintain your site.