1. Just because they are non profit doesn't mean they don't have money for a website
Non profits often have portion of their budget set aside for marketing, and much of this can be used to develop a website, especially if the website offers interaction and social media integration to improve their reputation and reach.
2. Non profits are looking for longevity in both the aesthetics and function
If you provide a website for a non profit that doesn't need to be completely overhauled every 2 years, you can probably bet they will be returning clients. We all know great websites are expensive, but if they are built right and have a clean, classic aesthetic and upgradable, scalable functionality, they tend to last longer. A non profit organization will appreciate that extra bang for their buck, and will come knocking on your door when they are ready to upgrade. Staff and board members at non profits tend to be well-connected to other non profits, providing quality and value can bring a plethora of referrals.
3. Non profit organizations don't always know what they want their website to do for them
Sometimes a non profit will come looking for a web design, and have no clue who they are building their website for. Ask them what kinds of people they want to target with their website:
Maybe they want to encompass all of the above. Teach your non profit client the need for a clear call to action, or multiple calls to action for different audiences.
Then find out what kind of function their website will serve, is it an information hub, an open forum, a planning and scheduling portal? We provide our non profit clients with a variety of functional features including:
- Event calendar
- Photo galleries and media galleries
- Multi-recipient contact forms
- Blogging capability, for industry news and company updates
- Event scheduling and ticket sales
- Donations via paypal
- E-newsletter sign up
- Live chat
4. Be prepared to have everything approved by a board
Designing for non profits can take a lot of time, in many cases, the organization will want the entire board of directors to approve prototypes and content. Encourage any non profit you work with to assign a web design chair person, someone that can make day-to-day decisions for the entire board, otherwise it can take weeks to get a minor changes approved.
5. The staff at non profits are passionate, use this to your advantage
The staff and board members of non profits are passionate about their organization. On occasion this can present problems with web design, the staff can be set in their ways, especially if they think their website works fine. Let them know that a "fine" website isn't good enough for their organization, they deserve "great." It is sometimes necessary to use tools like the Google Website Optimizer to show that your design creates more conversions than their old design. It will be much more difficult for them to argue solid evidence. On the bright side, many people at non profits will be willing to contribute, whether they have photos to add the galleries, or a desire to write for the company blog, this passion can be used to create a personal, genuine touch to the website.