Your non-profit, like any business today, needs an online presence. The hub of which is a website—your home base.
Yes, a social media presence is important—and as important and powerful as it is for connection, awareness and engagement—it is often not enough without a solid home base.
How to decrease overhead costs to increase program services
There are many options when it comes to creating a website. For most small to medium sized non-profits, a content management system (CMS), like WordPress, is often ideal.
Once the website structure is set up, almost anyone who is comfortable creating documents on a computer can update content on the non-profit’s website. Granted, getting some professional training to help her create the right content, is recommended.
Being able to update the website by inhouse staff or volunteers, even with no coding skills, lowers overhead costs, leaving any additional funds saved for better program services.
And a bonus, WordPress software is open source. This offers several benefits—the first is generosity as WordPress is created and maintained by a lot of volunteer time. This likely aligns with the core values of your non-profit. Second, because it is open source, you can start with the basics and, as your non-profit budget and needs grow, easily customize your website to grow with you without having to start completely over.
Third, there are lots of free or low cost training resources available. Check with your local library as many of them off free access to Lynda.com with a library card. And there are Wordcamps (volunteer run one-day or weekend workshops all about WordPress) around the world that cost about $20/day for a full day’s training.
Access to quality, free or low-cost training stretches donor dollars, reduces overhead and thus allocates maximum funds for programs and services.
A website can help your non-profit grow its email list and increase sustainability
To email someone, you need her email address. Even today, your website is still the most efficient email-address-collection point.
Despite numerous claims that email is dead—the statistics continue to show that, not only do people check their email regularly, dollar for dollar, email communication is still the highest converting medium.
A website, with a correctly set up email system, is still the ideal way to collect email addresses and communicate directly with your varied stakeholders. Do you hold in-person events and then struggle to add illegible, handwritten email addresses to your email system? Do you have a social media presence to engage with fans, volunteers and donors that collects likes, though not email addresses?
Email marketing may not have the sex appeal of Instagram or Snapchat, but research continues to show its ROI prowess—even among smartphone-tethered Millennials.
According to research, email remains the most effective channel for building brand awareness, converting customers, and retaining them over the long haul. Its effectiveness shines across demographics and devices. In short: If you want to get a message out to your audience, email remains an incredibly good way to do so.—Krystal Overmyer, Skyword
Collecting email address via your non-profit website is economical. Website content is still ideal for conversion because “Facebook sends 82% of social media traffic to longer stories and 84% of social traffic to shorter news articles. (Pew Research Center, 2016 Source: Hubspot).” Because an online sign-up form both creates an opt-in agreement and automatically adds the address to your email list, you save staff or volunteer time which can be redirected to improve program services.
Not only does this save overhead by eliminating the manual process, it is more accurate and less challenging than deciphering handwriting. One option, at live events—bring an iPad or laptop and help people sign up directly online.
Digital communication channels are very fragmented across most demographics, but email sits across the center of them all as the one and only true hub….Even the weak or lazy email programs generate serious revenue and engagement.
It’s the ultimate permission marketing channel. That is why it works – subscribers ask for it and marketers deliver. Win-win.
Is email perfect? Heck no, but people are onto studying and fixing it instead of trying to kill it…—Simms Jenkins Clickz
Make your emails irresistible. Easily segment email addresses on your non-profit website based on interest or need. When you create email lists based on areas of interest or programs, you can email her information targeted to her specific interest(s). This decreases the number of emails to her inbox and ensures that the news she gets speaks directly to her, so she is more likely to act.
Stretching donor dollars and volunteer time with your WordPress website design
While we all have constraints, especially in a non-profit, resources are precious. Not in a stuck-up sort of way—rather it’s particularly important to make the best use of grants, donated funds and volunteer time.
One really effective way to do that is with a WordPress website. Because there is often a tight budget as well as varied and distinct audiences who need to use your non-profit site, using a pre-built WordPress theme or template that can be customized to meet various needs is one path to keep costs reasonable.
What some users need to do at your non-profit website
- Donors need an easy way to make a donation online
- He also might want to target his donation to a specific program or make a donation in memory or honor of someone special. Using a WordPress plugin allows you to create a donation form, makes is easy for your donor to pay online and makes it is simple for staff or volunteers to to update the donation form as programs or areas of need change.
- Recipients need clear information to access services
- Clearly defined programs, services, answers to “need to know information” and FAQ’s limit excessive or repetitive use of staff or volunteer time. Provide easy access to fill-in-able intake forms. Include samples and detailed instructions on the website on how to fill in the forms correctly.Include compare or contrast details or flowchart to help guide the user. This provides a way for your potential recipient to self-select the program or service that best fit’s her circumstances. And reduces staff or volunteer time required to answer repeat questions or redo incorrectly filled-in forms.
Questions and needs change as systems and programs change. Having an easy to update and navigate FAQ page saves everyone time and reduces overall frustration and burnout.
Clearly articulated and easy to update program pages allow your non-profit to do tasks inhouse. This avoids hiring and waiting for a developer to help with every little change. If you can create a Word or Google doc, you can learn to update WordPress.
- Make it easy for grantors
- Grantors want to see your latest information and how funds are used. Because budget numbers, program services, successful outcomes and case studies change from year to year, being able to keep that information current allows potential grantors to find what they need to help evaluate your application quickly and without friction. Becasue this can be a challenging task for many non-profits, being up to date has the potential to allow your non-profit to standout.
- People want to be in the know about what’s happening
- Quickly display a calendar on your WordPress website, even without knowing any code. This allows the public or potential recipients the opportunity to easily find and share your events. It increases sustainability when you promote your non-profit sharing events that link back to more information on your website calendar. People know where to buy tickets or get last minute info without cluttering their inbox or a fruitless search on Facebook.
Administration and overhead costs are required
Having worked with many non-profits, despite the obvious need for overhead and admin to run programs, donors generally prefer to fund direct program costs. Even with social media today, it is challenging to communicate effectively to convert your fans into donors and get your donors and grantors to fund you without a website.
WordPress allows for greater sustainability because you don’t have to invent the site from nothing. When using a pre-built theme—adjusted to communicate effectively for your varied users needs—you reduce overhead costs. This leads to happy and often repeat donors and grantmakers.
Up-level your non-profit website today
Ready to leverage the power of a compelling WordPress website design to enhance your online presence and create a more sustainable non-profit? Not sure how to start? Contact me below for a free, 20-minute no obligation strategy call. You’ll come away with resources and a next-step to start building your sustainable website design immediately.