When’s the last time you updated your nonprofit website? Was it within the last year? Was it the last time you had a big content management system (CMS) update? If you’re unsure of the answer to that question, this article is for you.
Regular website maintenance is something that all nonprofit organizations should prioritize, but that is not always the case. After all, your main goal is raising money and accomplishing your mission, with your website falling lower on the priority list. However, your nonprofit site actually plays a critical role in those same efforts, especially in this age of modern fundraising. In fact, your digital strategies and online presence are more important than ever before.
Sure, sites are often forced to undergo changes whenever there’s a new system update or another large development. However, it’s often the smaller, more consistent tweaks and site maintenance that can help bring real value to your organization.
In order to drive success for your mission, effectively connect with supporters online, and ensure your website is healthy, regular nonprofit website maintenance is essential.
To help ensure your own nonprofit website is up to date, this guide will through the following topics:
- Why nonprofit website maintenance is important
- How you can tell if your website needs maintenance
- Best practices for nonprofit website maintenance
Regular site maintenance can be the difference between someone simply perusing your site and someone becoming a regular donor. Want to learn how? Let’s begin.
Why Is Nonprofit Website Maintenance Important?
This Kanopi article explains it well: “Similarly to taking your car in for maintenance checks to keep it safe to drive and in good condition, your nonprofit website needs regular maintenance to ensure it’s meeting users’ needs and helping you advance your mission.”
Your nonprofit website is the vehicle for almost every online engagement and fundraising effort that you conduct. After all, it’s likely the first place supporters go to find more about your organization. It’s also the place where supporters can give to your mission, sign up for events, and explore volunteer opportunities.
If your website is broken or lacking in any way, that valuable engagement is lost. Regular website maintenance can prevent this.
On top of ensuring that you don’t miss out on those key giving opportunities, website maintenance also brings the following benefits:
- Improved user experience (UX). UX describes how a site visitor interacts with your website. For instance, as soon as someone finds your site, it shouldn’t take long for them to complete their target action or find the information they’re looking for. If they cannot, this is bad UX. When you prioritize UX for your nonprofit website, it ensures that users stay on your site for longer and engage with your offerings.
- Higher website security. When you regularly update and maintain your website, there is less chance for any security breaches or other confidentiality issues. This is because you are regularly and actively checking in to ensure things are working in peak condition. The less often you maintain your site, the more likely these types of risks may occur.
- Up to date plugins or modules. If your website and CMS uses lots of plugins or modules, you can assume that these also have their own update schedule. If one of your plugins happens to be out of date, this can even cause problems with how your entire site functions. Regularly updating these features is your best bet.
- Increased website traffic. The more you maintain and update your website, the more that people will visit it. Think about it, as soon as you stumble upon a site that looks outdated, you’ll probably exit the page assuming that it’s not active anymore. Don’t fall into that trap with your own site.
- Better search engine optimization (SEO). SEO involves how high your website will rank on search engine results pages. However, best SEO standards do change frequently depending on current trends. The more your website and CMS is maintained, the better your SEO standing will be.
- Consistency with top industry trends. Similar to general SEO standards, the nonprofit and fundraising landscape is constantly changing. If you don’t regularly check in on your site, you might be missing out on crucial updates that keep you in line with the latest trends. From implementing machine learning to ensuring you offer virtual fundraising opportunities, it’s important to conduct regular maintenance so that your website is competing fairly with its peers.
Don’t wait till the last minute to give your website a much needed upgrade. When you check in on your website on a regular basis, you’re much more likely to consistently perform well and impress your supporters.
How Can You Tell If Your Website Needs Maintenance?
Now that you know the importance of nonprofit website maintenance, let’s consider when you should actually conduct it. You might even set a schedule where you check in with your site every couple of weeks.
To better determine if your current standing needs improvement, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your site up to standards for accessibility? Review the official website content accessibility guidelines for help.
- Are your donation page and other high traffic pages easy to find?
- Is your navigation intuitive to use?
- Do you use a mix of text, images, video, and quotes?
- Is your blog content up to date?
- Is your fundraising calendar up to date?
- Does your site perform well on mobile? Test it out using this free Google tool.
- Does your website reflect relevant current events and trends?
- Is your CMS updated and secure?
- Do you have clear calls-to-action (CTAs) in place? This can be in the form of links or buttons.
- Is your page load speed under 5 seconds?
- Are you free of broken links?
- Are all your forms working and formatted?
- Are buttons easily clickable?
If you answered no to any of these questions, then you’re in a position to do some fine tuning to your website. For more guidance, you can always conduct a nonprofit technology assessment and see where your website and CMS stands within your entire tool stack.
What Are Some Best Practices For Nonprofit Website Maintenance?
It’s now time to start planning your nonprofit website maintenance plan and putting it into action. To help you get prepared and ensure that you’re doing all you can for the health and lifespan of your site, we’ve compiled some best practices that all nonprofit leaders can implement.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Use key performance indicators (KPIs). In order to best track when you’ll need maintenance and to see how new developments are fairing, setting and monitoring KPI metrics is your best bet. Some common and effective KPIs to set are time on site, bounce rate, and number of pages visited. Other data points you might track are who is donating, how often they are donating, and the rate of repeat donors.
- Keep event calendars, news, and social media feeds up to date. Often, these are the pages and resources that your site visitors are looking at. If they are not updated, it shows users that your site is not able to meet their standards. Without updating your event calendars or syncing your news and social media feeds, your site is no longer relevant or effectively engaging. To combat this, you might create an editorial calendar and use automated tools to schedule your posts in advance.
- Update your CMS regularly, not just for significant updates. It’s easy to wait for those large system updates to upgrade your CMS to the latest version. However, conducting more consistent updates will actually help avoid unintended site downtime and ensure that your entire system is always working effectively.
- Keep updated with local and national internet laws. Sometimes new legislation passes and it goes right under our noses. For instance, last year the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect which impacted many nonprofit websites and their data usage. Subscribe to relevant news sources and make sure that your marketing team is updated with local and national internet laws. This way, you are better equipped to respond to new regulations that might affect your nonprofit website.
- Confirm that your essential nonprofit processes like donations or event registrations work. Your website is where supporters give to your cause or sign up for an event. If those processes aren’t working, then your website is not meeting those essential needs. Resources like Donately’s list of top online donation tools can help you find the most reliable solution for your site. These processes should also work on all devices, meaning mobile users shouldn’t have to turn their phones or pinch their screens just to fill out a form.
The above tips can ensure that your website is in good standing at all times. To take your efforts to the next level and ensure that you’re not glossing over important factors, you might expand your team’s capacity with a nonprofit technology consultant. The right partner will be able to survey your current site and offer tips to properly maintain it.
Online fundraising has only been increasing in importance, and thus, so is your nonprofit website. Ensuring your website is meeting industry standards and is working properly is crucial to the success of your organization and your mission. Use the above information to keep your website up to date and ensure you’re undergoing proper nonprofit site maintenance.
AUTHOR: ANNE STEFANYK
As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.
Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.