How to make a website for your nonprofit in just 24 hours!

Web 1.0 has come a long way since the internet first began. Nowadays, every organization, business, and cause has at least a static website, and most go on to create social and mobile web applications as well. If you’re starting from the ground up with your nonprofit, you probably want to get out your website as soon as possible, and don’t have a lot of time, money, or knowledge to do so. Here are some tips and examples to help you get started quick!

1. Use a free website design tool. In Social Media for Social Good, Heather Mansfield makes it clear that you should not be afraid to invest time and money into getting your website looking professional and running smoothly and efficiently. However, you also want to get your message out as quickly as possible. There are many free and easy web design tools you can use to set up your website, with pre designed templates and themes and easy-to-use interfaces. Squarespace, Weebly, and WordPress are just a few examples, but I personally prefer Wix. They have concise, informative introduction video tutorials to get help you navigate their tools, without long-winded cumbersome explanations. Below is an example of a mock website prototype I put together using Wix:

2015-08-17 23_29_30-rise-against

Feedback is more than welcome!

2. Pick a color scheme and stick to it. While you want to get your website live as soon as possible, you want to make sure your message stand out and be memorable — and that means keeping things consistent. Choose a color scheme that best represents the tone you’re trying to convey, and keep it uniform throughout your website and other media platforms. Kaiser Permanente and Planned Parenthood are some good examples.

If you happen to have a main image you’d like to use as a central point for your webpage, Degrave is a great tool for choosing a color palette specific to a certain image.

2015-08-18 00_04_05-Color Palette Generator

3. Use free stock photos. Until you have a good collection of personal images for your nonprofit, use free stock photos to add personality to your website. StockSnap is a personal favorite of mine. The featured image for this post was from their site!

4. Keep it simple: include only the essentials. With the rapid growth of social and mobile media, there are now various platforms through which you can reach a wide audience. Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are the big 3 social media sites you’ll want to have, and you can use these different pages to share different messages in a variety of formats. Therefore, it is best to keep your static website simple. Include the following the information to start:

-Mission statement: what is the ultimate goal of your nonprofit?

-About the organization: summarize and highlight key information on what you do and how you do it

-Action needed: include a page where you outline how others can get involved and help, including a link to a donate-button page.

-Contact information: let people know where to find you!

Of course, once you have more time, you can always go back and add more information, such as testimonials, blogs, links to social media sites, etc. Social Driver posts an annual “top nonprofit websites of the year” summary, and getting featured on this blog for your well-designed website will only help spread your message. Check out this year’s winner, EveryLastDrop. Their website is sleek, interactive, and most importantly, simple!

2015-08-17 23_55_10-Every Last Drop – An Interactive Website about Water Saving 


5 thoughts on “How to make a website for your nonprofit in just 24 hours!

  1. Amanda, this is a great post! You had me drawn in from the very beginning with your attention-grabbing title! I think you did a great job on dispelling the fear that some may experience when it comes to starting up a website for their nonprofit organizations. It’s quite evident that the internet has become one of the primary vehicles for disseminating information in today’s day and age and when there’s easy-to-follow advice readily available, it makes it feel like it’s completely possible to jump on the bandwagon and join the masses.

    Thanks for sharing the tool for choosing a colour palette for your website (Degrave). I never knew such a thing existed!! I also wasn’t aware of Stocksnap – it’s great to know that such resources are available.

    Finally, your fourth tip is an important one because as Heather Mansfield mentions in her book, simplicity is the way of life for the current era of website development for nonprofits (which is quite contrary to the way of designing websites in the mid 1990s). I found a really cool website that highlights the dos and don’ts of writing mission statements for your nonprofit organizations. I’ve pasted an excerpt below that can be found on the following website:

    5 Quick Tests For Your Mission Statement

    1.Say It Out Loud This alone tells you a lot about your statement. Is it easy to say? Does it roll off the tongue? Or are you bored before you finish saying it?

    2.Memory Tell a friend or employee your statement or have them read it out loud. Talk about something unrelated for a minute. Then ask them to tell you the statement again. If they can’t get it close, you have more work to do.

    3.Crowdsource Find multiple people who don’t know your cause and have them evaluate your statement. Do they get it? Do several people (whose opinions you respect) have similar suggestions for changes?

    4.When Can You Shut Your Doors? Look at your mission statement. Based on this statement, when will your nonprofit declare “mission accomplished?” Is there a clear end point where you’ll be able to happily disband your nonprofit and have an epic party, because you’ve succeeded? If you don’t have an end goal, your mission might be too vague.

    5.“You too?” If someone could read your mission statement and say, “You too?” your mission statement is too broad. Refine it. Your organization does (or should) have something no other organization offers. What is it?

    Great post overall Amanda, thanks for sharing!

    • Wow, thanks for that website! It’s kind of insane how many free tools and how much free advice is out there to do things on your own

  2. Hi Amanda, this post was well done because you wrote about the lessons that we learned and your posts, both this blog and the website prototype, show the lessons in practice. You use bright colors with an eye-catching image, you write in bullets and you have an engaging style. Nice work with the lessons of the class, and great to be on your team!

  3. I enjoyed this post a lot–nice incorporation of information from the week’s readings, your own outside research, and salient examples. And the homepage of the website you made looks fantastic! I want to reiterate what Shannon said about Degrave and Stocksnap–these are such useful resources! Even with the article we were given in this class listing websites with copyright free images, I still find it really difficult to find free, high quality, copyright free images. I wish I had known about this site earlier. also had trouble trying to add a donate button, so I’m interested in how you were able to do that.

    I liked the title and concept a lot–certainly inspiring and empowering for the non tech savvy. I was really interested to hear your advice about getting a site up as soon as possible (and adding to it later) rather than trying to perfect it from the get go. I think I would be afraid that if anyone saw my website before it had all the professional features and design that I wanted for it, that they might feel dissuaded and not take my company seriously. At the same time, the ease and professional look of websites that we are able to make in such a short period using sites like Wix guarantee that the website will look good by just following your advice.

    I also thought that your advice to keep the information on your page to a minimum was interesting, since I had not picked that up from the resources or noticed it on websites from nonprofits that I have explored. I think there is certainly something to be said for writing short and sweet paragraphs and not making users waste their time with lengthy descriptions, but I never thought to limit the kinds of content on the website to a bare minimum. I think your point about social media filling in those gaps is a great one.

    Nice work, thanks for a great team!

    • Hi Maia! I actually didn’t apply a Donate button to my website — I got caught up in trying to make the color scheme work. The image I used in my post of a donate button is just an image :]

      Thank you for your compliments! I agree — a lot of these free stock image sites are suprisingly difficult to navigate. I actually think the best thing to do for a personal site is to take images yourself, or employ the help of a friend with a fancy camera.

      The part about including only the essentials is more my opinion than it is something that I read somewhere. The static website used to be the one-stop shop, but it’s not like that anymore. I think it helps to keep websites uncluttered (like microblog posts) since attention spans are so short.

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