Nonprofit organizations around the world are catching on to the beauty and simplicity of using WordPress to power their websites. But aside from a few large foundations and universities, most nonprofits are very modest operations where every staff members wears many hats and where the “communications” line in the budget is nearly nonexistent.
Enter WordPress: an organization can get up and running quickly and can start publishing their content right away. But in my years of working with nonprofits in WordPress, I’ve found that few sites really live up to their full potential.
So here are two simple tips that your organization can implement now, quickly and easily.
1. Use WordPress to Manage Your Events
Almost all nonprofits have events, whether they are fundraisers, large conferences, small workshops, or community outreach. These events should all be listed on your site in a way that’s easy to skim and gives all the relevant info.
Users shouldn’t have to download a PDF flyer or even click over to Facebook to find out more. Keep them on your site and engaged by using one of these free plugins:
- The Events Calendar – A fully-featured event management system with multiple views, 3rd party integrations, and a slew of premium add-ons. Includes Google Maps integration and an upcoming events widget.
- Events Manager – A full-featured event registration plugin for WordPress based on the principles of flexibility, reliability and powerful features. Allows users to register and get info about events.
- Simple Events List – This lightweight and simple plugin will publish a bullet list of upcoming events that automatically updates based on the date.
2. Use Analytics to Decide How to Spend Your Time
If your organization is already running WordPress, do you have Google Analytics or WordPress’ own Stats turned on? If not, you should. You need data to make good decisions about your site.
To get started with Google Analytics, you’ll need a Google Account and the Google Analyticator plugin. To get WordPress.com Stats, just install the Jetpack plugin and link it to a WordPress.com account.
The big question is, once you’re seeing your analytics data, how do you use it?
If you are like most nonprofits, you don’t have staff time dedicated to the finer points of “filters,” “conversions,” etc., so here’s one easy place to start. Check to see what content is most-viewed. Then make those pages more compelling and interactive.
For example, one organization I worked with was very hesitant about starting a blog for the first time. Folks there had lots of good questions about how much staff time it would take to manage, and they didn’t want it to detract from their already full workloads.
But they decided to give it a shot, and they quickly found out that it was consistently the most popular section of their website. With this data in hand, they committed more time to making sure it was consistently updated. If they hadn’t checked the numbers, they wouldn’t have had any idea whether it was worth their valuable time. In this case, it was.
Elsewhere, another organization found out that it’s “Staff” page was getting lots of hits, probably because people were Googling the names of the staff people. The staff members wanted to make the page more engaging, so they used a simple plugin that automatically displays recent posts by each staff member.
Now visitors can read both the bio of the Executive Director and see his recent posts right there on the staff page. It’s not rocket science, but it’s an easy way to make your pages more compelling. And again, it was driven by the numbers.
Finally, does your organization publish annual reports, policy briefs, or newsletters? Use a simple download counter plugin to track how many copies of your PDF’s are being downloaded by visitors. (You can also set up Google Analytics to track this info, but it’s a bit more difficult and harder to get the results than the plugins.)
Once you have the data about which of your resources are the most popular, you can make better decisions about what and how to publish in the future. One nonprofit organization found that its short “toolkit”-style publications were downloaded much often than its longer reports.
That doesn’t mean that it has stopped publishing its full-length reports, but it has decided to put more effort into creating really top-notch 2-page toolkits and fact sheets. In turn, these continue to be very popular resources.
Whether you’re a nonprofit staff member working to update your website or an experienced developer looking to get plugged in to the nonprofit community, hopefully these simple tips help to get the ball rolling.
Stay tuned for more for more ideas about making WordPress work for nonprofits.