How To Create A WordPress Website For Nonprofits On A Budget


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I’ll also share examples of the best nonprofit websites on the web along with how they’re leveraging WordPress to make an impact.

Before we dive in let’s first explain the value a website can bring to capturing donations online and spreading awareness to your mission.

Why Nonprofits Need A Website In 2019

What’s the first thing a potential donor, member, or volunteer does before they take an action?

According to recent survey data, over 70% of people say they research an organization online.

And that makes sense.

People are, and should be, cautious of how their gifts are used. This is especially true with the recent scandals surrounding the nonprofit community.

Ultimately, donors want to be engaged and feel valued in the contributions they’re making to an organization and a website is the perfect opportunity to display that information.

Nonprofits Leveraging Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is is the process of increasing your website’s visibility in search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo) with the goal of appearing on the first page of results for a any combination of keywords. Nonprofit’s use SEO as a method to distribute their content and drive visitors to their website through organic search. Take a look at the phrase “where to donate furniture.”

where to donate furniture - nonprofit seoWider Circle, The Salvation Army, and links to other nonprofit organizations appear all over the search engine page results (SERPs). But, it get’s better. where to donate furniture search volume - nonprofit seo According to Ahrefs, a popular SEO tool that tracks keyword search volume, among other digital marketing metrics, shows that the search term receives over 2,000 monthly searches. In other words, SEO is an alternative marketing distribution channel to social media or online advertising that nonprofits are leveraging to drive real results.

A Website Helps Integrate Your Digital Marketing Campaigns

One mistake nonprofits often make when diving into digital marketing is their siloed approach. In other words, investments may be made into social media while SEO or paid advertising are neglected. The truth is that the best way to get your message out into the digital world is by integrating your marketing activities. A website serves as a hub for these activities, thereby centralizing traffic to a single page or a series of pages that drive results in the form of conversions (newsletter subscriptions, event signups, or donations). As an example, if you want to run Google and Facebook advertising campaigns using remarketing or custom audiences, you’ll need a website to capture visitor data to serve ads to potential donors, members, or volunteers.

Websites Provide Control Over Your Content

Unlike social media, you have full control of how your content is displayed and distributed to visitors on your website. You’re also not subject to shifts in the platform’s algorithm changes.

For example, algorithms adhere to community guidelines and can block people from viewing your posts if they feel like there has been a violation.

Facebook blocking posts Of course, algorithms aren’t perfect and sometimes they block genuine posts. In a recent consultation request, the prospect was eager to promote an upcoming golf tournament to raise funds. Unfortunately, their campaigns on Facebook were marked as political despite the organization’s focus on veterans. Facebook blocking political posts

Why WordPress For Nonprofits?

WordPress is free to install, deploy, and upgrade and with thousands of plugins and templates to choose from it offers a flexible and simple interface.

WordPress powers 33 percent of websites WordPress is also the most popular content management system (CMS), with over 33% of all websites using it to store, update, and deliver content.

WordPress Is Cost Effective

WordPress is extremely cost effective. Hiring a website designer and developer to create a custom site using Drupal or Ruby on Rails can easily run you $25,000 – $50,000 and take months to develop. In contrast, if you’re creating a WordPress website yourself the startup costs can be as low as $500 or free if you’re using a basic template hosted on a domain. The downside to this approach is the time investment and learning curve required to build the website. However, if you’re hiring a WordPress website design company then you can expect the costs to be around $3,000 – $15,000+ depending on the size of the site, the number of custom designs, and the required functionality.

WordPress Is Easy To Administer

One of the greatest strengths of WordPress is that it requires little to no coding skills (HTML, CSS, Javascript). This dramatically reduces the workload required to administer content changes and other miscellaneous platform management. For example, adding a new post in WordPress can be done with a single click of a button. how to add a new post on WordPress Like any new platform you will have to familiarize yourself with the layout. But even the least technically savvy individuals will find WordPress to be intuitive and easy to manage.

WordPress Vs. Drag And Drop Website Builders

While drag and drop website builders like Wix or Squarespace are appealing, they have significant challenges with showing up in the search results. They also deploy sneaky “SEO packages” designed to make you spend money while convincing you that you’re getting any kind of value in return.

According to Wix’s Superbowl commercial in 2019: “Wix’s SEOwiz helps you grab those top search results.” Any SEO professional worth their salt will tell you that there’s no quick fix solution to ranking your website and no slick tool will give you the advantage you’re hoping for. Despite the company’s aggressive advertising campaigns the backlash from the SEO community continues to be an issue with many recommending WordPress as their go-to platform to get results.

Examples Of The Best Nonprofit Website Designs

An effective nonprofit website should act as a tool to create excitement around a cause and to generate continued support. There are many answers to the question “what should a nonprofit website include?” It can differ for each organization’s goals, both from a user experience and marketing standpoint.


The site uses a very clean design style. The “Take Action” link in the navigation menu allows visitors to get involved. Information about the organization and its purpose can be easily found on the “About ONE” and “The Issues” pages.


Thorn is a global nonprofit organization that tackles the growing problem of child trafficking and sexual exploitation. Because their work addresses such difficult subject matter, Thorn goes to great lengths to make their website inviting for all users. Whether you’re looking for the latest research data or interested in donating to support their work. Thorn’s website is structured around sharing educational material about child sexual exploitation on the internet while providing tools to companies and law enforcement offices to help identify child sex abuse images. In order to tell the story of their beneficiaries, Thorn pairs emotional images and videos of children at play to make it simple for users to get up to speed about the realities of modern child exploitation. Our favorite feature? When you transition from page to page on Thorn’s website, they use smooth text and graphic animations. This helps make browsing the site feel seamless, and helps users navigate from page to page more quickly.


Direct Relief is an organization with the mission to “improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty, disaster, and civil unrest.” The nonprofit’s website clearly states its mission and ways to donate and volunteer above the fold and also shows a feed of current news about the organization.

Select A Managed WordPress Website Hosting Provider

  • Find a managed WordPress hosting provider. They have servers built to specifically run WordPress websites. Other providers that run multiple site (Jummla, Druple, etc) require multiple programs to run on a general website server, which will impact performance.
  • Note: I am not affiliated in any way with the following hosting providers. I’m simply sharing my experience with testing over a dozen WordPress hosting providers.


  • WPengine is by far the best choice on the market, in my opinion. However, it’s not the most cost-effective. Plus, as traffic grows you need to be wary of unexpected costs. Pay attention to the plan level as you will be billed if you go over your monthly traffic limit. This is my biggest grip as there’s no real way to tell what a unique visitor is. For example, if you’re brtowsing a site on your phone while traveling and then the connection switches to a different cell tower, then there’s no possible way for any one tool to know whether or not that’s the same visitor.


  • Bluehost is a great budget alternative with responsive chat support, but you don’t get a lot of bang for you buck like a built in CDN, etc.

Partner With A WordPress Vendor

  • I recommend a dedicated parter as you don’t technically own your website.
  • Create an agreement that addresses the ownership of the content, trademarks, and other web assets.
  • These partners often offer monthly maintenance, support (patching/plugin updates), and content management where as most website hosting providers do not.
  • Finally, you may also wish to engage with a digital marketing agency or someone who has experience with search engine optimization (SEO) to create your website. As mentioned, the Wix “SEO packages” aren’t really that great and all in one plugins only go so far. These will not be enough of an investment to get the kind of results you may be expecting.

WordPress Website Design On A Budget

  • Pre-built WordPress theme

Nonprofit WordPress Themes And Website Templates

  • Themeforest (find 2 others and bullet) Purchase + may need to buy plugin support or licensing. WpBakery etc.
  • Top WordPress themes for nonprofits
  • Test site speed & mobile views
  • Understand the site features – not everything will be out of the box

Importing Your WordPress Theme

  • Import theme and theme child

WordPress Plugins And Website Functionality

  • Load theme plugins that you NEED
  • here’s a list of helpful plugins to get started

Plugin Maintenance Is Essential

  • Buyer beware (plugin bloat will slow down your site, even if you have them deactivated.
  • Always update your plugins and WordPress site to the latest version. Since WordPress is so popular it makes it vulnerable to a security breah

The WordPress Website Design Process

Effective Website Design Principals For Nonprofits

Before we dive into designing your website I think it’s first important to discuss a few key principals that will help to make your website stand out.

  1. Every pixel has a purpose
  2. Design is audience centric
  3. Less is more
  4. Improves brand identity
  5. Make your purpose obvious
  6. Content movies audience

Determine The Site Architecture

Customizing Your Website Pages

  • Create graphics for icons and other pages to be consistent with your brand and its strategy

How Long Will It Take To Create A WordPress Website?

  • Depending on the complexity of the site you can expect the website design process to take 4-6 weeks.
  • Factors include total number of pages, the number of customized designs, and how long it takes for you to get content to the developers

WordPress Development And Back-End Access

  • Back-end access to your WordPress site
  • FileZilla – SFTP (secure file transfer protocol) is the technical term for saying you’re accessing the server where your website is hosted from your computer.
  • Shouldn’t need to access often; but a good alternative to plugins for certain tasks – .hataccess, updating robots.txt files, adding markup to pages
  • Always backup your website or coyp files that you intend to edit before making changes. Even a semi-colon in the wrong place can easily break the site causing down time

Website Implementation

  • You may already have a website
  • Make sure you’re properly


A WordPress website is the perfect solution for nonprofits who are on a tight budget. The ease of use

Jason wrote this originally at Nonprofits Source .

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