Guest Blog Post
If your organization is new to website design or simply wants to revamp its website without having to expend too many resources or too much time, you’ll need a user-friendly nonprofit CMS. A nonprofit CMS, or website builder, can streamline the entire web design and development process, saving your organization more time that can be used to advance its mission.
However, with so many website builders available to nonprofits, it can be difficult to identify the right CMS that will meet your organization’s specific needs. A CMS should not only fit within your organization’s budget, but should also offer a full suite of comprehensive tools to simplify the web design process as much as possible.
Look for these essential features when researching a nonprofit CMS to add to your technology toolkit:
With the right CMS in your toolkit, you’ll be well-prepared to design a strong website that can help new supporters learn more about your organization and encourage retention over the long run. Let’s begin.
When supporters land on your donation or event landing page, they should feel confident that they’re on your organization’s website. This is where a CMS with robust customization capabilities can help. Rather than creating a cookie-cutter website that looks like it could belong to any organization, your website should be customized to your nonprofit’s specific branded elements, including:
- Color scheme. Your CMS should make it easy to use your color scheme to brand your page background, headers, and other page elements.
- Typography. Your nonprofit likely has a standard header and body font that it uses across its marketing materials. Customize your site through your CMS to incorporate these same fonts into your website and create a unified feeling for readers.
- Visuals. The right CMS will not only allow you to add high-quality pictures and videos to your site with ease, but will also enable you to add alt text and closed captions to increase accessibility. This way, your organization can expand its audience to people of all abilities and develop a welcoming, inclusive community.
Rather than starting with a completely blank page, your CMS can speed along the web design process with user-friendly website templates. Look for a website builder that offers multiple pre-designed layouts so you can pick the one that makes the most sense of your organization. As you generate content, you can simply plug it into your website template and edit the visual features so they align with your branding strategy.
You’ll also want to work with a CMS that uses drag and drop functionality or a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor. This will allow you to customize and arrange your content without having to navigate the technical HTML of your website to make changes. With more time on your hands, your organization can focus on creating great content that will intrigue site visitors, encourage them to explore your site, and inspire them to get involved.
If you’re planning to host an online donation page on your nonprofit’s website, your CMS will be a hub for sensitive donor information. As a result, it’s important that you work with a platform that will protect your information from data leaks.
While platforms like WordPress and Drupal may seem appealing because they offer free versions and come equipped with a variety of plugins, these website builders are more susceptible to cyber attacks. For example, let’s take a closer look at WordPress. According to Morweb’s guide to website builders, WordPress makes its source code available to the public online, which can make your website an easy target for hackers, risking your donors’ contact and billing information from being leaked.
Plus your organization will have to actively keep up with rolling out the latest updates, adding more work to your nonprofit’s already busy workload. If you forget to roll out a security update, your website will be more vulnerable to cyber threats. In addition, any plugins you’re using may become incompatible with your site, which can create a more vulnerable site and negatively affect its performance.
This is why open source platforms are generally not ideal for nonprofits using their sites to process donations. Instead, it’s best to work with a platform that is maintained and owned by a single company, ensuring that your private donor data remains secure. Your platform should also roll out regular security updates on your behalf so your security measures are always up to date.
Whether supporters are navigating to your website on a computer or a mobile device, they should be able to access your digital content without running into any user experience issues. It’s therefore critical to work with a nonprofit website builder that will automatically resize page elements for mobile devices. Specifically, your CMS should come with these mobile-friendly features:
- Ability to format your site to any screen size. Your website should automatically reformat itself to appear well-designed on both mobile and desktop.
- Ability to generate forms with clickable prompts and buttons. Many site visitors will navigate to your website to donate, so it’s essential that your donation form is accessible on mobile devices. According to 360MatchPro, mobile users made up 33% of online donation transactions last year. To bring in more revenue for your organization, ensure that every element of your donation form can be clicked and accessed as normal on mobile devices.
- Ability to display appropriately sized images and text. If mobile users need to frequently zoom in and out and pinch their screen to view your visuals and text, they’ll be more likely to click off in frustration. Keep your audience actively engaged with legible content.
By opening up your audience to mobile users, you’ll be able to reach more people and direct more supporters to your donation page, leading to a boost in support. Plus, search engines like Google take mobile-friendliness into consideration in their rankings, so your organization can readily increase its visibility by improving the mobile user experience.
To make your nonprofit website one of the best, work with a comprehensive website builder. Do your research to find a CMS that comes with the key features discussed throughout this guide and fits within your organization’s budget. Armed with an intuitive CMS, your nonprofit will have more time to focus on creating great content and can stress less about coding and building a site from scratch. Good luck!