Why Not-for-profits need an Online Presence


Why Not-for-profits need an Online Presence

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If everyone wasn't already aware that having a website for your business or charity is critical, the Covid-19 restrictions have certainly rammed that message home. Whether it has been your own experience, your friends and family or what you have seen regularly in news reports it is clear everyone has been spending more time online. If you don't think this applies to your organisation just because you are a not-for-profit, think again.

Numbers you should know

Amazon has reported a 26% increase in Quarter 1 sales by comparison to the same period last year. GlobalWebIndex Coronavirus Research report for April 2020 shows that nearly half of global consumers do not expect to resume shopping in brick-and-mortar shops for 'some time' or 'a long time' once lockdowns ease. With an average of 63,000 searches every second and 5.6 billion searches on Google every day an online presence is critical for any organisation big or small.

In January 2019 there were more than 21.7 m internet users in Australia. This represented 87% of the population and has no doubt increased recently through necessity. of these users 93% use the internet every day.

Whether you have a one page website with basic information or a more informative website with features, such as facilitating donations or purchases, if you do not have a presence people will find it difficult to find you. Here are some website tips for not-for-profits.

1. Make sure your website is up to date

Setting up a website is one thing but it will be important to make sure information is current. This is a representation of your organisation and is a primary source for anyone wanting to connect with you. Set up a regular reminder to check your website to make sure the information is correct.

If a potential customer or donor clicks on a broken link on your website your credibility will slip with them. If they read information that is obviously out of date they won't bother contacting you; they will go to another organisation.

2. Make sure your site has value

This does not refer to financial value but making sure the site has the right information for your visitors is important. Website visitors have built an expectation about how website layouts and how they expect to find information. For example they expect to find an "About" page that tells them about your organisation. They also expect to find out information about your products and services and how to contact you, along with your purpose/mission and the social impact you have.

3. Be Mobile Friendly

According to Statcounter data mobile is the most used device for internet usage at 53.8%. To ensure you do not miss out on this traffic you need to make sure your website is optimised for both mobile/tablet and desktop. No doubt you have come across websites, when searching on your phone, that are difficult to read. This is because they have not been set up to automatically optimise to different devices. If your site is not optimised visitors will find one that is if they are searching on their phone.

4. Learn about SEO or outsource

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. This is what search engines look for to determine where to display your website in google search rankings. You need to understand what keywords you are wanting to rank for (eg. what most of your clients/donors search for) and make sure you include those regularly in your content. In the backend of your website you also need to make sure the meta data includes the right keywords. This may seem overwhelming if this is not your area of expertise. If that is the case you can outsource this to a Website Maintenance company or SEO agency. There are good options for support in Australia so you are bound to find the right one to suit both your needs and budget.

5. Make online donating/purchases easy

Whether it is donations or purchasing products and services, accepting funds is the lifeblood of any organisation. Any consumer research will tell you people are short on time and they want things that are easy; creating a positive user experience. If your transaction system is easy people are more likely to donate more or purchase more. You can choose a simple way to do this using ready made plugins which enable processing via PayPal or other options.

6. Tell your story

No doubt you have read stories that touch your heart and cause you to take action. Consider your website as a fantastic way to tell your organisation's stories. Whether it is stories about the beneficiaries of your social impact work or client success stories or the stories of a generous donor and why they gave to your charity; sharing stories is a great way to engage your stakeholders.

7. Maintain your website

Website maintenance is required regularly just as your home computer has software that needs updating. Organisations often have a website built and then leave it sit unattended. This is often because maintaining the site is not within worker's individual skill sets as well as the fact they are generally volunteers whose time is spent on the purpose of the organisation as opposed to administrative tasks. Left unattended your website can have performance issues (slow page loads), security issues which allow hackers to get in and have out of date information. Your website theme and plugins generally have regular updates which address security issues and bug fixes; just like computer software has regular updates. If these are not applied to your website your site may experience issues which result in less traffic and lower conversion rates. If you are unsure how to do this, there are good options available to outsource website maintenance at a reasonable price.


Whether you have a website already that needs review or you need to get one, it is critical for not-for-profits to have an online presence. As a final note we recommend the following to set you up for success:

  1. Clean and clear - a cluttered website that is hard for visitors to navigate will work against you. Keep your website design clean and clear and make sure your home page has all the key information your visitors will want to know first up.
  2. Know your donors/clients - if you know your donors and your clients it will help you to design your website. Understanding their motivations and the key questions they ask will help you determine the right information to include. Knowing what really gets their attention and makes them donate or buy will help you form the content you need to include.
  3. Set goals - be clear on what you want your website to achieve before you finalise your design. Whether it is about sales/donation conversion, providing information or raising awareness, having clarity around your objectives will help to ensure your site achieves its purpose.