Nonprofits: How to design a web page in 20 minutes

Reach more donors & friends

So you’ve got a cause you care about — maybe it’s the arts, social service, or a conservation project like a beach cleanup. And you love it! You left no stone unturned finding investors; you’ve nailed down your elevator pitch; and your mission statement is solid. But how will you reach out to backers, ask for donations, and tell your story? You need to design a web page or website, of course. But that strikes fear in the hearts of many — after all, you aren’t a web developer and don’t want to be. Your cause is damn interesting, and you want to spend your time working on it.

The good news is, it’s super-easy to design a web page in as little as 20 minutes.

 

That’s right. With GoCentral from GoDaddy, you don’t need special high-tech skills to create a beautiful, inspiring web presence that will make supporters sit up and take notice. And no, it’s not going to dent your budget. You can even try it for 30 days free. So if you’d like to build a site with tools so easy you could be up and running in just 20 minutes, read on.

How to design a web page with GoCentral

GoDaddy’s GoCentral makes it a snap to create a nonprofit website. Here’s how:

  1. Start your free, 30-day trial.

  2. Name your nonprofit.

  3. Pick a high-impact image.

  4. Describe your cause or event.

  5. Add a donate button.

  6. Add an email signup.

  7. Tell them how to get in touch.

  8. Add social media buttons.

  9. Publish.

Let’s touch quickly on planning before we dive into the step-by-step instructions.

First steps

Nonprofit websites should clearly communicate the mission of your organization, spell out what is expected from page visitors, and get people inspired, motivated and excited. Got that under control? Good. Now you’re ready to consider the following before you actually start building your site.

What do you want your website to do?

Do you simply need a place where visitors can get their questions answered, or do you need a site where supporters can get updates, volunteer or register for events, read blog posts, interact with others or donate to the cause?

Who will maintain your website?

If it’s going to be you, have you thought about enlisting help or at least designating a backup person in case you’re unavailable? Even simple websites need updating, since regular changes bring supporters back more often to see what’s new. Luckily, GoCentral is so easy to use, even the most non-technical people can design something beautiful.

How do you want your site to look?

If you already have a logo and a visual style guide, fantastic. If not, have you thought about what your needs are? Make sure you choose colors and a theme that’s consistent with any printed materials you already use. Don’t have a logo or a visual style guide? That’s OK! With GoCentral’s Website Builder, you can design a web page — and a beautiful and professional one, at that — fast.

1. Start your free, 30-day trial

Start your free trial, then answer two questions about your nonprofit and pick an overall look by flipping through the pre-loaded options on the right.

2. Name your nonprofit

If you haven’t thought of a name for your cause or event, open a new window and pull up a domain search box. The best way to find a great name that will inspire people is to search for matching domain names as you brainstorm names for your nonprofit.

Every nonprofit needs a domain name — for example, redcross.org. It serves as your website address.

Make sure your domain name is easy to remember and say. Because if all goes well, donors, volunteers — maybe even the media will be saying it often. A few things to consider before you buy:

  • Does it communicate your mission?
  • Does it have keywords in it?
  • Have you vetted it with friends and associates?

You should of course consider .org, since it’s widely associated with nonprofits and charities. But if you can’t find the domain name you want in .org, consider another extension like .live or .earth, depending on your cause. The list of new extensions grows all the time, and there might be a really cool one you didn’t know about.

Pro tip: Social media is awesome, but your effort can suffer if you don’t also have a web page with its own domain name. For example, the Facebook page for a nonprofit theater might have a web address like https://www.facebook.com/theatregrandrapids/ instead of a more memorable address such as StageNotes.com.

3. Pick a high-impact image

Your header photo is the first thing supporters will see, so it needs to be on the mark. To choose a photo, click Edit at the top middle, select the Header section in the right sidebar, and scroll down to Cover Photo.

Design a Web Page Header
Choose a photo from one of the hundreds included free with GoCentral or use your own.

Use one of your own fantastic photos by selecting My Images, or you might find the perfect one in our collection of Stock Images. To swap the photo in and out of different themes, just click Themes at the top middle and experiment until you find the right one. Want to add your logo? Find out how here.

4. Describe your cause or event

The About Us section is where people will look for details on what you’re doing and why. Sharing your story allows your visitors to trust and identify with you. Many organizations will give their basic contact information and a short paragraph full of fluffy jargon. Don’t fall into that trap. Connect with your visitors by talking to them about them — why they should support your cause or event and what they’ll bring to fruition by helping. Tell your visitors how you got started and why you’re doing what you do.

5. Add a donate button

Who can forget fundraising? (We doubt you have!) Sure, you might have big plans for your website, but a steady flow of donations can really add up. This is why an awesome donation page is imperative.

Design a Web Page Donate
The GoCentral business plan includes an SSL certificate, which adds the HTTPS prefix and padlock to the visitor’s browser bar. Savvy donors won’t submit their credit card info without this.

Just think: If 100 people gave you $5 in one day, imagine what you could do in a week! A strong call-to-action will bring visitors to your donate page, making it easy for them to help. Here are some great calls-to-action for donation pages:

  • Donate now
  • Be the change
  • Make the difference
  • Get involved!

Be sure to include an explanation of what the money is for and how it will be used (including the percentage that will go to the charity itself, after administrative costs). And of course, thank them. Razoo, a popular fundraising guide for nonprofits, has more ideas.

6. Add an email signup

Email marketing is a great way to keep supporters connected, inspired and current on how their support is directly impacting your cause. Your supporters want to know how their money or time is actively making a difference. So don’t disappoint them! Encourage supporters to subscribe to your communications with a clear call to action on your home page. “Join us” seems to be a popular call-to-action.

Pro tip: GoCentral’s built-in email marketing tool allows you to create beautiful emails and newsletters perfectly matched to your site quickly and easily. What kind of emails should you send? For starters, try an automated welcome, invitation or thank-you email.

7. Tell them how to get in touch

Your Contact Us section should tell your supporters how to contact your nonprofit and why they should want to. Always list a physical (snail) mail address, since this allays fears that you’re shady. You might be online-only, but if you want to appear more legit, list a street address.

GoCentral lets you choose from one of five layouts, then add your pertinent details. If you take donations or otherwise want to be found, include a map. And don’t forget to list all appropriate phone numbers. Not listing a phone number suggests you’re understaffed or you don’t want to talk to the public. Mention where and how someone can leave a voicemail message for you. Lastly, offer simple instructions on using your contact information. A good example might be, “Contact us for donation, drop off or volunteer information.”

8. Add social media buttons

Design a Web Page Social
Connect your website to your social media with a few clicks.

Social media is a place to capture people’s attention, connect with supporters and build communities. If you’re creating or ramping up your presence on a specific network, let your constituents know they can connect with you there. To add social media links in GoCentral:

  • Select Add Section.
  • Click the Social widget.
  • Paste in your links.

… and you’re done. Don’t worry if you don’t have an account for every site; accounts without a link won’t appear.

9. Publish

Design a Web Page Publish
Use Preview to see what it will look like while you work. All set? Hit Publish.

Use the Preview button in the upper right to check out your progress as you go. Not quite there yet? Click Edit in the upper right to continue noodling.

When you’ve decided you love your nonprofit website and you can’t wait for the world to see it, click the green Publish button. You did it! That’s how to make a nonprofit website.

You want to design a web page for your nonprofit? Go for it!

Spreading awareness, inspiring people to give, and recruiting volunteers is a lofty ambition, indeed. And maybe you’re hesitating.

 Design a Web Page Turtle
Photo: Randall Ruiz on Unsplash

People like you are using GoCentral to share their passion with like-minded people every single day.

Do you have the time, the money, the grit? We already know you do, or you wouldn’t have read this far. So launch your nonprofit website and showcase your cause using a powerful, mobile-friendly site builder like GoCentral. There’s no limit to how many people you can inspire … and help!


Also published on Medium.

Image by: NEX6ki on Unsplash