You know you need a new website, and you’re ready to start the planning process. Great, that’s an excellent start! And what comes next in the process… is determining what you need that website to be able to do. What nonprofit website features does your organization need to have and what would be nice for it to have?

Pinpointing your must-have and nice-to-have features for an upcoming website project will help you choose the right partner and build a website that’s fully loaded with everything your target audience needs and expects on your site.

Common Nonprofit Website Features

But what are your feature options? This list of common nonprofit website features is by no means exhaustive, but it’ll give you a nice idea of what features are possible and even expected on a nonprofit website. Use it as a starting point and pare down to the components that you need to have to reach your goals.

Online donations

You should be able to accept online donations directly on your website, without sending visitors to a different site to give. If your organization accepts and encourages donations, chances are that online donations will be a must-have feature, along with proper website security.

Email signups

Collecting email addresses through a form built into your website is a great way to build an audience of supporters.

Blog

Need a way to easily communicate your latest news and updates with your audience? Check out eight signs your nonprofit may need a website with a blog.

Volunteer management system

Posting volunteer opportunities on your website opens up a range of benefits. A volunteer management system allows you to create a central hub for recruitment and save time when communicating with volunteers.

Event registrations

Does your organization host events? Including an event system on your website could save time, money and streamline the registration and promotion process in the long run.

Integration with tools that you use

What tools is your organization already using? From payment processors to email services and donor management systems, connecting third-party tools to your new website can help your staff save time and prevent errors caused by outdated information.

Library or resource system

If your organization creates original resources like guides or publicationsmfor your audience, a library or resource system can help you organize those resources and keep track of those who download them.

Membership system

Membership organizations typically need a membership system — a way for members to log in and access information or tools related to their membership.

Website analytics

Analytics are critical to knowing whether your website is working toward the goals that you’ve set and pinpointing potential improvements.

Program application forms

Should website visitors be able to apply for or sign up for your programs online? Then it could be helpful to include program application forms directly on your website to improve visitors’ experiences. Depending on your current goals and plans for the future, you may also need the ability to build new custom forms for programs or other requests.

Now is a great time to think about custom forms or systems you may need or want. For example, an organization that accepts item donations may need a form for pick-up requests. And an animal shelter may need a system to show available pets and handle visitation or adoption requests.

Determining Your Must-Have Website Features

Must-have features are those that are critical to your goals for the website. Other features may also work toward those goals, but ultimately don’t play a leading role in achieving them.

For example, if your goal is to grow your audience, email sign-ups play a leading role in achieving that goal, whereas a volunteer management system could help to engage that audience but ultimately not play a large part in growing it.

To pare down your list of must-have features, answer the following questions with the list of features that you’ve compiled handy.

Who is your audience?

Before you can decide on your must-have nonprofit website features, you need to understand who they’re for and the preferences of your target audience. Creating target audience personas can be incredibly helpful for this piece of things. What are their goals when they visit your website? What features are necessary to help them achieve those goals?

The preferences and goals of your target audience impact not only the features that you’ll need to engage them but also how those features will work so that the visitors to your website trust you and opt to take action on your site.

What are your goals for the website?

Determine your goals for the new website. What features or functionality are critical for helping you reach those goals? These are your must-have features.

If your goal is to increase donations, a streamlined online donation process is key. If your goal is to turn more visitors into long-term supporters, email sign-ups and a blog could come in handy.

What will the key calls to action be?

Think about the calls to action that you’ll push visitors toward on your website — donations, email newsletter sign-ups, volunteering, events, etc. The features needed to make those calls to action as compelling as possible should be must-have website features on your list.

What is your ideal process for visitors taking those actions?

As a follow-up question, think about the process for each of these key actions and how you might make it as easy as possible for your target audience to complete each action on your website. While this won’t necessarily play into which features you include, it will be important to know as you plan out how each of the features on your site will ultimately work.

For example, if you want visitors to sign up for a virtual event, do they submit a registration form on your website or are you sending them somewhere else to take the next step?

What frustrations do you have with your current website?

If you’re replacing an existing website with a new website, think about what could be improved through the new site. Are there features missing that you’re heard supporters request? Is there a feature that would make your work easier or more effective?

How can the new website improve internal processes and capacity?

As you’re thinking about features, it’s easy to get caught up in those features that directly benefit your audience and lose sight of those that will make your life easier. What features and integrations will save you time?

Sure, you could continue creating one-off email lists to communicate with various groups of volunteers, but a volunteer management system could save you the trouble.

A Website That Grows Capacity

See how Project Home Again was able to use its website to increase team capacity and grow its operation.

Your nonprofit website features should create an enjoyable and frustration-free experience for your visitors and your staff. As you finalize your list of must-haves, keep your organization’s and target audience’s goals top of mind.

The list shouldn’t be too terribly long, and moving an item to the nice-to-have camp doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t end up on your new website. But it’s important to know what you can compromise on and what you cannot. This way, when you take the list to a potential website partner, you can clearly see whether or not to explore a potential partnership.

What are your organization’s must-have website features? How did you go about compiling your list? How did your ultimate list play into your choice of a website partner? Let’s chat about website features in the comments below.

The post Nonprofit Website Features: How to Determine Your Must-Have Tools appeared first on Wired Impact.