Intro – What are we talking about, three easy steps
If you’re in the business of creating websites and you’re looking to provide your services to non-profits it is important to understand how these organizations differ from for-profit businesses. The most fundamental thing you need to understand is that non-profits are looking for donors and volunteers. Without these two groups they cannot really serve their purpose. Sure they may want an image gallery and store and calendar, but those are not their core needs. And so, when you’re talking with people at non-profits about websites you need to tailor your sales process to their core needs to win the deal.
Now that you know the secret about what non-profits need you are ahead of 99% of all website building companies out there, except for just one thing. You need to know how to talk about the core needs and how they manifest in a website and how that website is going to meet those core needs.
- You will want to focus design on finding donors and helping volunteers find ways to make contact or sign up
- You will want to be able to track where people who ultimately donate are coming from so that your customer can see the direct connection between the website and donations
- You will want to be able to show how the website is improving or hurting the donor rolls
- You will want to create something that helps the organization look bigger than it really is (since most are really small and want to impress large donors)
- You will want to price the project at a level your potential client can actually afford and find a way to connect with them on an ongoing basis for support
Pro Tip: Most non-profits are very small and don’t have IT knowledge, software knowledge, internet marketing skills, SEO skills, or contract negotiation experience. You can use the website as a gateway to provide ongoing low-cost consulting to many non-profits. Either as a by-the-hour or as a set-monthly-fee contract. This is really where the money is in creating websites for non-profits… the lifetime value.
So, what does this all mean for the website you create? Well, it means you’re going to need to use some design principles that are different than for-profits. Here’s what I suggest.
Non-Profit Website Design Principles:
- Simplicity above all else
- Donor funnel focused
- Ease of maintenance
Why? Well, of course you have to ask why. The Why is because non-profits don’t need anything amazing or beautifully coded or that takes an army of highly trained sloths to maintain. Non-profits need websites that help them apply their funds to their mission, help potential donors donate, and that they can maintain themselves… because most of them don’t want to have to call you ever again.
Why else? Because if you create websites with these principles then your very satisfied non-profit customer will be telling their friends at other non-profits about how great you are and how simple the site is and how it helped them land more donors and how they can manage it themselves if they want to. And that drives more business for you.
So, just in case it isn’t clear. I highly suggest you provide great value for the money when you’re working with a non-profit
Now, this value can come in many forms. Here are some ideas:
- Price your build services affordably
- Provide editor and administrator level training
- Include migration from previous websites in your fee
- Include some number of months of “broken website” support at no cost
- Include a round of website updates and changes within 60 days of launch so that as you and they learn about the new site, adjustments can be made
- Steer them toward cheap hosting (something that meets their low monthly visitor count)
So… you’re going to provide great value and you’re going to use principles that really help your client meet their needs. The next question is what sort of technology do you use to do this? Here’s what I use.
Website technology for non-profits
- Free themes when possible
- Free plugins when possible
- WooCommerce with Paypal if they need a simple store
- The Events Calendar for calendars
- TinyMCE Advanced to make editing more like word (setup the menu’s to be MS word-like)
- WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer… they don’t know to upload small or optimized images…
- No customization to themes or plugins if at all possible
- Google analytics
- SumoMe for heatmaps and signup popups
- CloudFlare for DNS so that you can make changes faster than you can say “Domain Name System” and for the free speed boost
There is a lot more I could say about preparing a non-profit for their new website, working with them to design something that meets the design principles (which they may not agree with but is what they really want), and training them. I’ll save that for another article.
You might be interested in more about:
- Technology for Non-Profits
- Creating a hosting company to serve your website clients
- Providing IT Services to your website clients
- Providing internet marketing and SEO services to your website clients