May 23, 2011

Build a WordPress site for your nonprofit in 9 steps

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John HaydonBuilding a website is for your nonprofit is not as hard as some people make it seem. As we’ve said before, we recommend using a self-hosted WordPress.org installation over one hosted at WordPress.com because you can take advantage of thousands of free plug-ins created by the WordPress developer community.

You may want to hire a developer to set up your blog if you have nobody on your team who’s technologically proficient. But often, you can execute all of these steps on your own.

Generally speaking, there are nine steps to getting started:

  1. Pick your domain name. Picking a domain name will be one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Selecting a domain name for your organization that’s compelling and easy to remember will take patience and creativity.
  2. Decide where your site will be hosted. There are many differences between a WordPress.com blog, which is free, and a WordPress.org blog, but in summary, you want to go with WordPress.org. WordPress has a great list of hosting providers that support WordPress — and there are literally hundreds from you can choose from for a modest monthly cost.
  3. Install WordPress. Most reputable hosting companies offer a one-click install of WordPress as demonstrated in this video.
  4. Settle on a theme. A theme is essentially clothing for your website. It dictates the overall look and feel, as well as some of the functionality of your site. Check out these important considerations to help you choose a theme.
  5. Establish your permalink settings. The default permalink structure in WordPress relies on the post ID — basically, a number — which is not recommended if you want to get found when someone is searching on your topic. Instead, choose a permalink structure that is keyword rich, like categories and post names. Watch How to Create SEO-Friendly Permalinks to learn how to configure these basic settings.
  6. Add essential plug-ins. Plug-ins are add-ons that enhance the functionality of your nonprofit WordPress site. Check out this good list of essential plug-ins.
  7. Create basic pages. WordPress pages are different from posts. Start with the basic pages first, such as an About page, a Donation page, a Volunteer page or a Subscribe page. Draft some text and add in images as desired.
  8. Set up an RSS feed. Your WordPress blog comes out of the box with an RSS feed. I suggest you step it up a bit by using the service Feedburner to make it easy for visitors to subscribe by RSS or email and for you to keep track of your subscribers. Services like Feedburner also add social media features to your feed, allowing subscribers (your best fans) to easily share your content.
  9. Start blogging! The best way to start blogging is to have a goal and a plan, and then just be yourself.

Once your basic set-up is complete, you may want to think about design elements, such as a site logo, if you don’t have one in place already.

What else should be part of your nonprofit’s blog strategy?John Haydon delivers social web strategy solutions for “the quick, the smart, and the slightly manic.” Curious? Then connect up: Contact John by email, see his profile page, visit the John Haydon blog, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment.

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  • Great post – thanks! Any advice on converting an existing site to WordPress?

    • Would also be very interested in this, specifically moving a blogspot account to wordpress while saving your feedburner subscribers, or migrating them over.

  • John Haydon

    Unfortunately you can't export content, but do it anyhow – you'll have an easier time managing the site in the future.

  • jg314

    If you’re looking for an easy to install online donation tool check out Simple Razoo Donations (http://www.socialbrite.org/2011/05/23/build-a-wordpress-site-for-your-nonprofit-in-9-steps/).   The plugin adds the Razoo Donation Widget to your website without having to touch any code at all.
     
    Great article John.  It’s true that organizations on a tight budget still have the ability to have a web presence.

  • jg314

    If you’re looking for an easy to install online donation tool check out Simple Razoo Donations (http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/simple-razoo-donations/).   The plugin adds the Razoo Donation Widget to your website without having to touch any code at all.
     
    Great article John.  It’s true that organizations on a tight budget still have the ability to have a web presence.