By Elizabeth Liebel

Most industries (i.e. legal, medical, finance, etc.) prefer their content management solution be customized to meet their specific needs. Non-profit organizations prefer that their solution be customized as well but they face a difficult hurdle: funding.

A non-profit organization’s yearly budget lies solely on the generosity of donors and grants that are awarded by states or other foundations. NPO’s must allocate money to overhead before they determine budgets for programs and events. In many cases (depending on the size of the organization), it isn’t until after salary, program and event budgets are created that NPO’s can begin to determine how much they will allot to a website revamp when needed.

How do agencies determine the type of website that non-profits need?
Many non-profit organizations have to choose which approach will best utilize the budget they have allotted for their online presence – in most cases, that means choosing to focus on one component of their content management system more than another.

Goal 1
If the goal of the website is to build awareness of the cause or the organization’s programs, then it must engage visitors with great design and compelling content. In order to attract readers to the page, they’ve got to draw them in with great design coupled with a strong social media presence that will lead the readers back to the “hub” – the NPO’s website. If the organization can afford to manage their social media accounts in-house, then a majority of the website budget can be allotted to the content management system’s design.

Goal 2
If the non-profit has a development staff that uses events and networking to create awareness, and the website is used solely as an information hub and not a main source of marketing, the website budget can be used to support individual customized landing pages for each event. These pages can be publicized through social networks and offline marketing efforts.

Goal 3
Non-profit organizations that rely heavily on donations through their website will require a secure e-commerce component in their websites. In this case, much of the budget allotted to the website will go toward developing a custom e-commerce system that will support the organization’s needs.

The key to determining what type of website is best suited for a non-profit is focusing on what they truly need to help support their fundraising and awareness efforts.

Next we’ll talk about what makes a non-profit organization’s social strategy successful.

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