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Website Tips for Nonprofits: How to Choose a CMS, Accept Donations and Set Up Email on your Domain

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By: Jason Faber, Product Marketing Manager at CIRA

 

You’ve gone ahead and registered a .CA domain name for your nonprofit. Now what? The obvious answer here is to build a website, but that can feel overwhelming for most people. In the past, building a great website was only possible with a large budget and deep technical skills. Nowadays, price and technical difficulty are still two of the most common misconceptions when it comes to getting online. In reality, it’s never been easier (or cheaper) to build a great website and get your brand online.

Here are our tips for building your website and how to leverage your .CA domain. 

Build your website 

Most websites are built using a content management system, often referred to as a CMS. A CMS is a platform that offers a simple interface for non-technical website owners to create, update, and edit their website content. User-friendly content management systems have broken down many of the traditional barriers to getting online and succeeding. They are also a fraction of the cost of hiring or managing a web development team to build and run your website. 

In a recent research report, we discovered that nearly two-thirds of Canadian nonprofits use a content management system to manage their websites, which is not entirely surprising as content management systems make it easy to create and publish content. The research further shows that Wordpress is by far the most popular CMS choice amongst nonprofits, followed by Drupal, Joomla, Wix and Weebly.

While Wordpress, Drupal and Joomla are strong and trusted industry platforms with great features and functionality, Wix and Weebly have gained massive popularity for their beautiful and functional templates with simple drag and drop features that have made building and customizing a website easier than ever - even for the non-techie! Even better, Wix offers an entire portfolio of templates designed specifically for charities and nonprofits. Most website building platforms like Wix and Weebly are relatively price-friendly, with plans that range from $10-$25/month. 

Keep in mind that these are not the only content management systems out there. Do your research and make sure you choose the one that meets your specific needs. When assessing a potential CMS or website platform, keep the following in mind: 

  • How easy is it to use?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Does it offer mobile responsive websites? (more on this in the next section)
  • How secure is the platform?
  • Does the platform offer flexibility and scalability?
  • Can it be integrated with a CRM or any other important tools (such as donation platforms)?
  • Does the platform offer customer support?

Here’s a really great post that weighs the pros and cons of a variety of content management systems and website builders specifically for nonprofits, including the ones we mentioned above. 

Consider Mobile

More than ever, Canadians are using mobile devices to access and interact with the Internet. Our most recent Internet Factbook revealed that while this adoption is highest among younger Canadians (age 18-34), overall adoption is still on the rise.

Furthermore, about 20% of Canadian Internet users between 18-34 years of age have made a purchase from a mobile device. 

Despite this trend, Canadian nonprofits are lagging behind when it comes to embracing mobile technology. The aforementioned study of Canadian nonprofits showed that 67% of organizations do not have a mobile-friendly website, and cannot accept mobile payments or donations. 

Fundraising and donations

Raising money and accepting donations is the foundation of most nonprofits, and the ability to support these activities online are what can help take your organization to the next level. While most Canadian nonprofits are lagging behind when it comes to mobile accessibility, an impressive 85% of those surveyed in our study demonstrated some means to collect donations online. The leading tool used by Canadian nonprofits is CanadaHelps, a secure, affordable and easy-to-use fundraising tool built by Canadians for Canadians.

Integrating a fundraising or donation tool into a website should be a core priority for nonprofits.  

Custom Email Address

In an earlier post, we discussed how a good domain name gives your nonprofit credibility and helps solidify its brand. It shows your audience that you are an established, legitimate, and trusted organization online. The same can be said about email addresses. Unfortunately, many nonprofits are still using free email services with Hotmail or Gmail to communicate with their audiences, which is not only unprofessional, but it can be seen as untrustworthy or even spammy.

With a .CA domain name, you can (and should) create your own professional email address, like donate@yourcharity.ca. This is an easy way to give your organization an added layer of professionalism and credibility, which can help set you apart. Setting up email addresses on your domain is relatively straightforward and inexpensive to do - and it is well worth the effort. Most registrars (the company that you registered your domain name with) offer this service and can help you set it up in no time.

Two options for creating organizational email address are Office 365 and Google for Nonprofits. Both options are free for nonprofits, charities and libraries with your TechSoup Canada account. If you need help you can connect with one of The Community Corps’ remote volunteers. 

Have you registered your domain name yet?

If you haven’t yet registered your domain name for your nonprofit, what are you waiting for? Start by searching for your .CA domain name. Once you find a domain name that is perfect for your nonprofit, select one of our certified providers and register the domain name.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a domain name, download our free ebook that contains advice, tips and tricks, and exercises to help you choose a great domain name for your nonprofit.



About the Author

Jason Faber 
Product Marketing Manager (.CA) 
Canadian Internet Registration Authority 
www.cira.ca

Jason Faber is the Product Marketing Manager for the .CA domain at CIRA, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority. In his role, Jason is responsible for developing and implementing comprehensive marketing plans and strategies to promote and strengthen the .CA brand. With deep experience in marketing, technology and digital strategy, Jason strives to engage and educate consumers to ensure that they get the most out of their .CA domain and overall web presence. Find out if your ideal .CA domain name is available and register it today. Connect with Jason at jason.faber@cira.ca and on Twitter at @Jason_Faber.