Using WordPress As a Nonprofit: A Beginner’s Quick Guide

Using WordPress As a Nonprofit: A Beginner’s Quick Guide

WordPress is the most popular website builder in the world. 472 million websites are built on WordPress, which is over 43.3% of the total websites on the internet!

The platform has earned its reputation by being incredibly powerful while retaining its user-friendliness. So, if you want to build a website for your nonprofit or migrate your website content to a better builder, WordPress is a great choice.

However, while WordPress is free and easy to install, you’ll still need to know a thing or two about the platform to use it successfully. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll help you get started by covering:

  • A Quick Introduction to WordPress
  • WordPress Pros and Cons
  • 5 Tips to Get a Strong Start with Your WordPress Site

We’ll only be covering the basics here, so to get customized site design and web content strategy guidance for your organization, consider working with a nonprofit website designer who is an expert in WordPress.

With that in mind, let’s jump in!

A Quick Introduction to WordPress

Here are a few quick facts about WordPress, according to Cornershop Creative:

  • WordPress is an open-source website builder. This means the source code is available for anyone to modify or edit (to a point), so anyone with the know-how can create a website that captures their unique vision.
  • It’s free to get started with. There’s no fee to download WordPress or use it to build a website. However, you’ll need to cover costs like hosting, domain registration, plugins, and themes to take your website and digital marketing efforts to the next level.
  • There’s a large WordPress community. With so many WordPress users out there, from tech newbies to experienced developers and consultants, support for any technical issues you have with your website is usually just a Google search away.

One of the most important things to understand before getting started with WordPress is that several big pieces fit together to make it so powerful and easy to use—the theme, the builder, and the plugins.


The theme on your WordPress website contains all of the global styles you’ll use to build your website. It will both govern and guide you as you build each page on your site, from your blog to your sponsors page.

Themes are available in any style you can imagine, and range in price from free to hundreds of thousands of dollars. You can even get a custom-made theme just for your site.

Here are a few popular WordPress themes for nonprofits:

The important thing to remember when you look for a theme is that it’s like a package of building blocks for your website. What you do with those building blocks will be up to you, but you’ll want to start with a theme that fits your vision for your website.

Visual Builders

Once you select and install your theme, you’re ready to begin building pages. The benefit of using WordPress is that you do not need to know any code to do this! A good visual builder is what allows you to design and add content to each page without ever touching a line of code.

Here are a few to consider:

These visual builders make it easy to drag and drop design elements and even add fully-designed templates to your pages so you can make your site your own.


You can build an entire website using only a theme and a visual builder, but you would be missing out on extra functionality and features by not leveraging WordPress plugins.

Plugins can be incorporated into your website to help with events management, search engine optimization (SEO), embedded forms, and more. You can even build an entire store on your website using a plugin.

Here are some exciting WordPress plugins and what they do:

  • Media Deduper: Deletes duplicate and unused images to help keep your website’s media library clean
  • Gravity Forms: Creates easy-to-use custom forms that integrate with different web tools like PayPal and Mailchimp
  • Yoast SEO: Checks your content for SEO basics like keywords, metadata, and internal linking opportunities

Plugins do come with a warning, though. Those extra features also add extra code to your website, affecting its performance by slowing it down or even causing it to crash. To avoid this, choose your plugins wisely and only add the ones you will actually use.

WordPress Pros and Cons

WordPress offers a lot of benefits over some of the other website builders out there. Nothing is perfect, however, so all this convenience and versatility comes with a few drawbacks. Here are a few pros and cons of WordPress you should know before getting started:


  • It’s really easy to get started. You can install WordPress for free on your domain, install the theme and layout of your choice, and get started right away.
  • There are so many options. As mentioned above, the number of pre-built themes available for WordPress is astounding. Each one offers a different fun design and feel. Add in a few plugins and the sky’s the limit!
  • Plenty of support is available. With so many developers constantly challenging themselves to improve WordPress and sharing their insights online, you can quickly answer your questions or resolve technical issues in online forums and threads.


  • WordPress has a learning curve. Though it’s easy to get started, the platform is so robust that it has a steep learning curve for those wanting to use some of the more complex features. Additionally, since each theme works a little differently, you can’t always expect to replicate the success of others on your own site on the first try. Plan on spending a little time learning the basics before you get the polished product you want.
  • Plugins can be pricey and require research. Many of the best features for nonprofits come from plugins. Since some plugins are free and others need to be purchased, you may find that the specific features you want for your nonprofit website come with a hefty price tag. You also need to research each plugin to make sure it is reliable and well-supported before you install it.
  • You must be proactive about maintenance and updates. Because WordPress is an open-source platform, it’s just as available to shady operators as it is to helpful developers. So, an out-of-date WordPress install or unsupported plugin can present a huge security risk. You’ll need to keep your website updated, do periodic plugin audits, and stay on top of security issues to keep your site healthy. Luckily, there are great security plugins that can help with this, like Wordfence.

5 Tips to Get a Strong Start with Your WordPress Site

Now that you know what WordPress has to offer and are aware of some of the things you should look out for, you’re ready to get started. Here are some tips to help you build a great site:

  1. Get inspired! One of the best ways to get some ideas of what’s possible for your website is to take a look at what others have done. Explore some nonprofit websites you love that were built on WordPress to see examples of designs and features you like (and don’t like). You can also play with theme demo sites to test out features before you commit.
  2. Understand the sign-up process. There are several ways to get set up with WordPress. One of the easiest is to visit the WordPress website and register for an account. From there, you’ll choose what type of account you want. You can get a free website with a branded WordPress URL, or choose a paid plan to get your own domain. After that, you can set up your profile, check out the large library of resources for beginners, and start building your site.
  3. Choose the tools your website needs. Make a list of everything you need to have on your website. Here’s an example of what your list might look like: sign-up forms for your email newsletter, a matching gift tool for your donation form, a landing page or calendar for your events, a member portal, a blog, and an “About Us” page that features staff, board members, or other members of your team.
  4. Create a content strategy. To signal to your website visitors that your organization is actively using its new website and that it’s a resource they should refer back to often, you’ll need to regularly publish new content on the website. Create a content strategy and calendar that helps you consistently publish new content. Schedule when you’ll write and publish a blog post about your recurring gift program, for example, or when you’ll update your events calendar.
  5. Partner with a consultant. Partnering with a WordPress expert has a lot of advantages. They can help you with theme selection or development and give you advice on hosting options. Best of all, they know the challenges of using WordPress and can help you avoid beginner-level mistakes!

WordPress is a popular and powerful website builder and can help your nonprofit create the website of its dreams. Refer back to this guide when you need a refresher on the basics of WordPress, and use it to kickstart your website design journey. Your efforts will pay off as you build a website that helps you market your mission, raise more money for your cause, and provide important resources to your supporters. You’ve got this!

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