“Must Have” Features for a Nonprofit Website

Question: What are the top five elements that should be included in a nonprofits’ website?

This may surprise folks but I struggle to come up with five “must haves” for a nonprofit website. In my experience, every piece of content and every whizbang feature must earn it’s place on the site only after determining that it solves a concrete need for visitors and/or the organization.

The only two things I think a nonprofit website absolutely must include are:

  1. Information about what you do
  2. A way to reliably contact you

That could all go on a single page or require 10 depending on what your organization does. Everything else—even a donation feature!—must only be added in direct response to a concrete need.

For the smallest and most basic of nonprofits sites—which are better than no site at all or a bloated, unfocused site—you could even consider using my approach for a content-first home page to create the ideal first version of your entire website.

In 2018, I presented a “Website Basics for Small Nonprofits” webinar with Washington Nonprofits. In it, I encouraged small organizations to work iteratively and start small. I came about as close as I could to an answer of must-haves of a “Phase 1” site:

  • A logo and simple design template
  • 1-5 pages about what you do, contact information, and usually an online donation link
  • A few good photos

Check out the video or slides to see what I recommended for Phases 2-4.

And finally, never forget about “5 Tips to Get Donations on Nonprofit and Charity Websites” from Nielsen Norman Group. These are approachable and achievable research-backed tips for increasing donations. These tips seem obvious but most organizations could improve on all of them! I’ve shared this link before, and I’ll probably share it again because the tips are just that important!

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