How to create a nonprofit website with WordPress

Building a website is one of the best things you can do for your nonprofit organization. With the help of a website, you can capture the attention of a broader range of people that are interested in your charitable cause.

More importantly, your website can act as your primary source of collecting donations. Research shows that website visitors translate into cash for your cause.

According to stats by Nonprofit Source, nonprofits raised $1.13 per website visitor in 2017. Also, 1.1% of overall website visitors made a donation, which represents an increase of 18% from the previous year.

Recent stats also show that online giving grows increasingly popular year-over-year. In fact, online giving grew by 12.1% in 2019, and 51% of high-wealth donors ($200k+) prefer to give online. Even 30% of older donors (aged 75+) say they have given online within the last 12 months. These older donors, on average, give 25% more often than members of younger generations.

With these stats in mind, it’s clear that a website is integral to the success of your fundraising efforts. Whether you are a large nonprofit organization, or a small firm just getting your feet off the ground, you may be wondering what you need to do to create a stellar nonprofit website.

This post will cover:

  • How to create a nonprofit website with WordPress
  • Best practices for nonprofit websites

By the end of the article, you’ll have the knowledge needed to get your website up and running in no time.

best WordPress hosting

Steps for creating a nonprofit website with WordPress

When it comes to creating a nonprofit website, there are several options on the market. Even with HostGator, you have a couple of different options for creating a website, including HostGator’s Website Builder and WordPress.

WordPress is a safe and smart choice for a few different reasons. First, WordPress has the majority of the CMS market share and is the most popular content management system on the market. WordPress is also easy enough to download, set-up, and navigate without the help of a professional. Finally, WordPress has a robust list of compatible plugins that make collecting donations easy. 

Now let’s talk about the steps involved in creating your nonprofit WordPress site through HostGator.

1. Pick a hosting package and domain name

The first step is to pick a hosting package that suits your needs. All websites must have hosting or a secure place on the internet to store and organize all your files.

HostGator’s basic WordPress hosting options offer support for up to 500K visits a month, backups, an SSL certificate, and a free domain name.

hostgator wordpress hosting plans

Once you select the best plan for your nonprofit website, click on “buy now.” From here, HostGator will direct you to the next page where you can select your free domain name. 

select free domain name for wordpress website with hostgator

Your domain name should be the name of your nonprofit organization.

Next, enter in your payment details, select your desired services, and you’re ready to install WordPress.

2. Install WordPress

Installing WordPress used to be kind of an ordeal. Not anymore! With HostGator, all you have to do is follow a few quick steps, and WordPress will be live in no time. 

Once you finish creating your HostGator account, you’ll receive an email with all of your cPanel (control panel) login details. Click on the link to your cPanel, and HostGator will redirect you to the login page.

cpanel login for hostgator

Enter your username and password, and press “login.” Once you login to your cPanel, you will see a series of options, scroll down until you see the “software” section.

Then, click on “Softaculous Apps Installer.”  

how to install WordPress using Softaculous

On the next screen, select the WordPress option and follow these instructions to install WordPress using Softaculous.

2. Choose a WordPress theme

Now that you’ve installed WordPress, you’re ready for the fun part—choosing a theme, or design, for your WordPress site. One of the best things about WordPress being the most widely used blogging platform is there are a plethora of awesome themes with killer designs. Most of them are free.

To select a theme, click on “themes” on your WordPress navigation bar (on the left side of the screen), and scroll through your options.

search wordpress themes

If you hover over the theme with your mouse, you can see the theme details, get a live preview of the theme (see what your website would look like in this theme), or “activate” the theme. 

preview wordpress theme

Once you press “activate,” WordPress will assign that theme to your domain name. You can switch your theme at any time.

There are also some “premium themes.” These themes have more functionality, but you do have to pay for them. 

Another important thing to note is there are several places on the web where you can buy a custom theme. If you buy one of these, WordPress makes it super easy for you to upload the theme. 

All you have to do is download the .zip file from the place where you purchased the theme. Then, navigate to the theme page within WordPress. You’ll notice a button at the top of the page that says “Add themes” and then “upload themes.” 

add theme to wordpress site

Click on “upload themes,” and WordPress will redirect you to this page.

upload theme to wordpress

Drag and drop your .zip file (or choose the file from your computer), and then press “install now.” Once you’ve done this, your theme will be active.

3. Customize your WordPress theme

Once you’ve selected your theme, you’re ready to customize it. This part of the process is fun and allows you to unleash your creativity. WordPress has also made it highly organized and intuitive.

To start customizing your theme, click “customize” on the left navigation bar.

customize wordpress theme

You can also click “customize” on the top navigation bar as shown here.

customize wordpress theme from navigation

When you click “customize,” WordPress will direct you to the menu pictured below.

wordpress theme customization options

Click through each menu item, and customize your site according to your desires.

5. Select WordPress plugins

The final step in getting your nonprofit WordPress website up and running is to select plugins. Plugins are a pre-configured software component that adds extra functionality to your website without you having to do any work. 

Plugins are also what makes WordPress flexible and easy to customize. If there is a specific functionality you desire on your WordPress site, there is probably a plugin for it. 

For example, let’s say you want to display your Instagram feed on your website. You don’t have to do a bunch of coding; you just need the right plugin. You can search through the list of plugins, find one that meets your needs, enter the information in the prompts, and the plugin will do all the hard programming work for you. 

Some good plugins for nonprofit websites include the following:

There are thousands of WordPress plugins. What you end up choosing will depend on what you want your nonprofit website to do. Do you want to raise awareness? Will you be hosting online events, or managing event registrations? Do you plan on taking donations through your website?

To add a plugin, click on “plugin,” and press “add new.” You can also search for plugins right within WordPress. 

There you have it! If you follow those 5 steps, your website will be up and running in no time. 

Remember, it’s 100% possible to set up your WordPress site on your own. There is a small learning curve, but you can do it all yourself. If you don’t have the time, however, there are plenty of professionals you can hire to do it for you.

5 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

Now that you have your website up and running, how do you get people visiting your website? Here is a list of best practices for nonprofit websites that will help you get the attention your nonprofit deserves.

1. Make your website mobile-friendly

The good news is 92% of nonprofits across the world have a website. The bad news is only 78% of those websites are mobile-friendly.

The reason it’s so critical to have a mobile-friendly website is that nearly 60% of all online donations occur via a mobile device. Also, more people search online from a mobile device than they do from a desktop. 

Thankfully, most themes from WordPress include a mobile-friendly version.

2. Include a blog 

Did you know that 87% of nonprofit content marketers post articles on their website? Additionally, 45% of the most effective nonprofit content marketers offer blog subscriptions.

Posting regular articles on your website is a surefire way to keep your audience educated, informed, and interested in your cause.

3. Include a stand-alone and branded donation page

The easier you can make it on your website followers to find your donation page, the higher your chances are of receiving donations. Consider including a branded “donations” page as part of your primary navigation bar. You can also include donation buttons throughout your website that direct website visitors to your donations page.

It’s also critical to make sure your donations page falls in line with your brand guidelines. This means creating a separate page on your website that looks like the rest of your website. You may not think it will make a difference, but Network for Good has found that branded giving pages earn 7 times more money than their generic-looking counterparts.

4. Turn the heat up with a campaign thermometer 

The best thing about a nonprofit organization is it’s a community of people working together to reach a common goal. Your donors love to see your fundraising progress and may be more motivated to donate more if they can see your progress. 

Some stats show that adding a campaign thermometer to your campaign can increase donations by 35%.

5. Engage in search engine optimization (SEO) best practices

Owning and operating a website is the first step in fundraising success. The next step is making sure that people who are interested in your cause can easily find you.

Since the majority of people go to the internet to find the information they are seeking, it’s critical that you make it easy for website users to find you.

One way to do this is to follow SEO best practices. Here is a comprehensive guide to SEO for nonprofit websites, but some things to get you started include:

  • Conduct keyword research. Basic keyword research will tell you what donors are searching for and what type of content should drive your blog posts.
  • Add an SEO plugin. An SEO plugin like Yoast will help ensure you take all the appropriate steps for on-page optimization.
  • Create high-quality content. Google algorithms work by serving up high-quality and relevant content. If you’re putting effort into your content, Google will reward you.

Start your WordPress website with HostGator today

You now know that it’s essential to have a website for your nonprofit organization. However, it’s also possible that you may be worried about going through the process of getting a website up and running.

The good news is you don’t have to spend a fortune and you don’t have to have any expertise to get a WordPress website off the ground.

All you need is a quick tutorial (above) and a hosting company that makes it easy (that’s us!). Don’t delay any longer. Sign up with HostGator, install WordPress, pick a theme, and start eliciting donations from people that are passionate about your cause.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.