No matter which way you look at it, nonprofit organizations need reliable, high-performing web solutions if they are to compete online.
Thankfully, WordPress offers a cost-effective, user-friendly creation platform that nonprofits can use without breaking the bank. It’s also one of the most popular platforms for nonprofits because it’s both SEO friendly and relatively intuitive and easy to use, but that isn't the whole story! In this post, we’ll dive into why WordPress is a suitable choice for any nonprofit organization, and give you our top picks for WordPress hosts, too.
What is WordPress?
First of all, let’s clarify something which so often confuses the uninitiated, and that’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a service that helps you build a website using the WordPress software, and includes managed hosting as part of its offering. WordPress.org is the place where you can download the WordPress software itself, which you can then use to build and maintain a website on your own. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be discussing WordPress.org.
WordPress is one of the most popular options for nonprofits because it’s easy to learn (there are a wealth of guides and tutorials on the topic), has a large community of users, is SEO friendly, and can be used for almost any type of online content you can imagine.
WordPress’s open-source nature has also made it one of the most versatile platforms in the world. Platforms such as Wix or Squarespace may boast about their accessibility, but their platforms pale in comparison to WordPress’s flexibility. Essentially, if you can dream it up, there’s a way to build it through WordPress.
Benefits of WordPress for nonprofits
WordPress provides several easy-to-implement features that can help any nonprofit website stand out from the crowd. These include:
High-quality, open-source design: There’s nothing worse than having to seek assistance with an issue that nobody else has encountered before. Thankfully, the open-source nature of WordPress means there’s a wide community of contributors who can lend a hand with practically any road bump you encounter. Better yet, the fact that the platform is open-source means there’s a huge degree of flexibility when you’re building your site.
Responsiveness: For SEO purposes, it’s always sensible to build a site that looks pixel-perfect on every device; from desktop to mobile. Unfortunately, though, the very nature of a nonprofit business will mean you’re operating on a limited budget. Usually, this would make it difficult to build a responsive website; WordPress, however, can automatically adjust your design for any resolution imaginable.
Scalability: WordPress is also a highly scalable platform that can handle traffic spikes, making it a good choice for nonprofit websites that experience high levels of traffic — just make sure your web host is up to the job!
Types of WordPress hosting
WordPress hosting providers can vary significantly depending on the needs of your nonprofit organization. There are four main types of hosting that you may want to consider:
Shared hosting: Thi involves sharing space on a server with other websites. Think of it as similar to renting a room in a shared house — you have your own space within a larger community. Shared hosting is cost-effective, but naturally, things can get a little cramped at times. It’s ideal for small businesses and nonprofits who need a basic level of security but don’t need complete control over the server.
VPS hosting: Think of VPS hosting as similar to renting an apartment in a large complex — more rooms, more space, more flexibility, and a little more expensive. There’s a greater level of control, but you’re still operating within a shared server alongside others. This type of hosting is ideal for larger nonprofits that are looking for stability and scalability.
Dedicated servers: With a dedicated server setup, you own the ‘house’ your website lives in. The website lives there alone. This is the best option for large-scale, high-traffic websites that need an even greater level of stability and control, but the high costs make dedicated servers an unlikely option for a small nonprofit.
Cloud hosting: This is where a website is hosted on a virtual partition of a server rather than on a single server and uses resources from a network. A cluster of servers works together to handle high traffic levels for a particular website — yes, resources are shared, just like in a VPS, but since there is a larger number of servers, there are more resources available to everyone. Want to know more? Cloudways have many useful articles on the topic — including this post on the differences between VPS and cloud hosting solutions.
This is only a brief overview of web hosting, but if you’d like a more in-depth look at the topic, head to our web hosting basics guide.
What are WordPress themes?
WordPress themes can help you create an attractive website quickly and easily. With a theme, you don’t need to worry about creating content, as the website will be ready for visitors. Themes also offer many customization options that make it easy to create a unique website that fits your brand. Here are some of our favorites:
OceanWP is a powerful (and free!) WordPress theme with multiple templates. What we love most about OceanWP is that it allows you to add a ‘donate now’ button in the header of your site. You can also add custom logos, social icons, image sliders, and more. OceanWP is fully responsive, too.
Divi is specifically designed to cater to nonprofit organizations, so it’s an obvious choice for our shortlist! It’s even SEO-friendly, too.
Another excellent choice for nonprofits, charity foundations, or fundraising websites. We love how this theme features full-screen video backgrounds on the homepage, allowing you to create highly engaging, beautiful landing pages — what better way to get your message across?
For a deeper dive into the topic of WordPress themes, check out our basic tips on how to pick the best theme for your site.
Domain names — do they matter?
Put simply — yes! Your domain name is one of The most important things to consider when choosing a WordPress host. Your domain name is also important for SEO purposes, too! Buying one is a relatively straightforward process, just visit a provider such as GoDaddy.
Your domain name isn’t just what directs people to your website, it’s also a cornerstone of your nonprofit’s branding. For this reason alone, it’s crucial that you set some time aside to think about your choice of a domain name if you’re setting up a fresh nonprofit organization.
If you’re operating an established organization, it may be that your nonprofit has evolved over the years, or has rebranded. In these cases, you may want to consider a change of domain name.
The subject of domain names is worthy of an entire article all of its own, but in short, follow these tips:
- Use .com, .org or .net — they’re the most popular choices and viewed as more trustworthy by consumers
- Choose a domain name that your audience will easily be able to remember and describes what you do in a nutshell
- Pick a shorter domain name over a longer one; again, this is for simplicity’s sake
- Choose a domain name that is easy to pronounce (otherwise how will your audience spread the word of the great work you’re doing?!)
- Avoid hyphens and numbers — this is pretty self-explanatory!
- Don’t be afraid to use domain name generators if you’re feeling uninspired
WordPress is a cost-effective (completely free!), intuitive, and highly-customizable option for nonprofits. It’s easy to set up and manage, and it provides a great platform for creating a wide range of content types. Picking out the perfect host for your nonprofit may seem like a tough task, but hopefully, we’ve made your job a little easier.