Websites are integral to all sorts of businesses, including not-profit companies or organizations. After all, logging onto the internet is by far the easiest way to gather information about any business, including non-profits, and making a solid connection prompts the viewer to do one of a number of things, including taking advantage of the non-profit’s services, volunteering for the non-profit, or donating to the organization.

Just like any website, a great non-profit website must be easy to understand and navigate. It should be designed with a particular purpose in mind and should be interesting enough – with plenty of photos and other media – to entice visitors to stick around for a while and explore. User-friendly tools and the right functionality are paramount. But that’s not all.

Build your Brand

While your non-profit may not have given a lot of thought to branding yet, especially if it’s new, it really is very important. Branding, in general, is key to recognition. Think about it. You see an apple with a bite out of the right side of it and you think Apple Computers and other Mac products. You spot a red bullseye and you know it’s Target.

Well, the same should be true for your organization. Branding tells your story…and that story can be told in a number of ways, such as through your logo, the use of certain colours, and even the font you choose for your website.

Similarly, your “voice” should be the same throughout as well, which often comes with one person writing all the content so that it’s consistent.

Choose the right content management system

A Content Management System [CMS] is a software platform that lets its users create, edit, archive, collaborate, report, publish, distribute, and inform. In other words, it helps your website do everything it needs to do to tell your story and entice visitors.

There are indeed CMS’s that are built specifically for non-profits or, with the right help, you can use a more general CMS and craft it so that it’s ideal for your organization. Whichever you choose, make sure the tools are user-friendly for functions such as fundraising and for browsers at all levels of tech knowledge.

Flaunt your personality!

For most non-profits, the organization’s mission and how they accomplish it are generally the most important things it wants to convey. You’ll want the organization’s personality to be reflected in every page, so choose photos that tell your story, include well-written text, and look for a website “theme” that matches what you’re trying to accomplish.

And be positive!! If you’re running a non-profit that assists individuals with addiction or mental health issues, for example, don’t show photos of someone suffering or behaving badly. Instead, show the success stories, the “after” photos or videos that truly highlight what you do and how you do it.

Choose photos and other media carefully

As non-profits go, however, some serve clients that probably don’t want to be seen on a website, so make sure you have the person’s permission before you display their image. Ask first and if they say “no”, respect their wishes. (It’s a good idea to have them sign a release if they agree to letting you use their image.)

Similarly, if you run an organization, for example, that grants wishes to under-served or sick children or something else involving minors, don’t just assume that you can post pictures of them happily exploring Disney World or meeting their favorite soccer player. You need permission from their parent or guardian in order to post their image. Doing otherwise could result in a lot of trouble for the organization.

For these reasons, stock photos often become the norm…and that’s fine. With plenty of free photos available on sites such as Unsplash, Pexels, and Pixabay, there’s plenty from which to choose and you don’t have to worry about permission.

Be mobile-friendly

These days, so many people do their internet browsing on a phone or tablet, not a computer. Also, search engines like sites that provide the user with a great mobile experience. So, talk to your website builder about a mobile-responsive design, which allows all the elements to fit on a tiny screen, including images, videos, contact forms, donation buttons, and everything else a user can see if they were viewing from a computer.

Contact forms and numbers

In most cases, non-profit organizations want to clearly explain how to get in touch with them, whether the person who wants to contact them needs their services or wants to donate. Many sites put up a contact form, which allows the individual to list their pertinent info, like name, address, email, and phone number, so that someone from the non-profit can contact them. This works well most of the time.

But not always. There are instances where a phone number or some other alternate way of contacting the organization is paramount. Consider, for example, groups that help those who are suffering due to domestic abuse. It’s unlikely that those individuals want to give out their contact info so, for them, the ability to call without divulging their name or location may be essential.

Remember, there should be no barriers to engagement, so think about that as your website is being designed.


Overall, you want to be sensitive to the organization’s ideal client, whoever that might be. Forging meaningful and – often – emotional connections with supporters and other visitors is essential to the growth and success of your non-profit organization, so considering all of the above means you’ve given plenty of thought as to what those you interact with will need and want.

Need further information about building a website for your non-profit? At Watershed9, we’re in tune with organizations like yours and are eager to help you craft the ideal online presence for your group, using not only a website but connecting it with Facebook and other social media, where appropriate. For more details, contact us at or call us at 604-337-1449.