While a website is essential for a non-profit organization to make its presence known, the traditional methods of developing a non-profit website can take a lot of time, resources and money. Many organizations need to outsource a developer or graphic designer to design their website, and then a webmaster to continuously maintain and update it. If the work was done in-house, the technical team was limited in their capacity and size to scale for growth. However, many of the issues with these methods are overcome by designing a nonprofit website with an open source software platform.
What Is Open Source Software?
There are generally two types of software: proprietary (or closed source) software and open source software. Proprietary software typically means that there is no way to access the software code and customize it towards certain needs, especially without the help of the company who owns it. DoJiggy’s fundraising platform is built on our proprietary platform, as nearly everyone was doing a decade or more ago.
Open source software offers to a different philosophy: giving free access to the software code so that it is easily customized and integrated with new features or other platforms. There is often a rich library of plug-ins and integrations built upon the basic website software. With minimal effort and technical skills, adding on a website feature, such as credit card processing or live updates on social media, can be accomplished.
Is Open Source Software Free?
A common misconception about open source software is that it is free for organizations to implement and use. Open source software is free, right? While open source software code is generally available at no cost to use and edit, this does not mean that implementing the software or hosting the software is free. You will still need technical knowledge and a hosting provider to create an open source website.
DoJiggy provides managed website hosting for nonprofits, which means that we configure and manage all of your website infrastructure and software utilizing the best cloud-based practices. Our managed hosting offers a more full featured, dedicated solution for non-profits than the basic hosting solutions that provide low-cost services with few features or updates. So you can relax and take your mind off the techie stuff – let us handle that while you focus on your organization’s mission.
Benefits of Implementing Open Source Software
There are advantages as to why an organization benefits when using an open source software platform designed for nonprofits:
- Low Cost: The most popular reason why open source software is the way to go is that it generally costs significantly less than its more traditional counterparts. A non-profit organization can often cut technology costs in half or more by choosing an open source software over proprietary software options that require lots of custom design work.
- State of the Art Solutions: Open source software gets the attention and help of thousands of developers. Since the code is available for any programmer to customize to their needs or the needs of their consumers, the amount of options and features that are available continuously grow and improve every day.
- Solid Security: Open source software has a tendency to be more secure, for the reason that so many more eyes are scrutinizing and reviewing the open code. When accountability lies on such a large number of people, patches and fixes can be escalated more vigilantly and pushed through more frequently than a proprietary software with code that only its own company can see.
What Is the Most Popular Open Source Software for Nonprofit Websites?
WordPress has a prominent reputation as being one of the most trusted open source software platforms for building websites in all industries. If fact, over 30% off all websites on the web use WordPress today. Not only is it user-friendly, but the plug-ins and integrations available for WordPress make it the ideal software platform to create the perfect non-profit organization website.
Joomla and Drupal are two other powerful, open source website software options.
DoJiggy’s nonprofit stores are built on the open source WordPress platform and are customized with many powerful nonprofit tools.
Open Source Plug-ins and Integrations for Nonprofits
Nonprofits should consider the following plug-ins and integrations for their open source websites:
Online Donation Processing
One of the most important lifelines of a successful nonprofit organization is being able to consistently receive donations. With organizations becoming more reliant on digital traffic, it is vital that a non-profit organization is able to easily and securely collect donations from their website. This means enabling a credit card processor on the website that processes transactions securely. Credit card processing requires PCI compliance and a secure gateway that encrypts personal information.
DoJiggy takes care of all of these necessary details for processing credit cards. Your organization continues growing towards your goals and donors feel good about supporting your cause.
Websites should be updated on a consistent basis, but how does an organization know what works and what doesn’t on their website? Web analytics are an important way to understand vital data and statistics on the activity that occurs on a website. Analytics include metrics on unique and returning visitors, how long users stay on a website, which pages get the most visits and much more. Analytics are a strategic part of building and updating a website that appeals to your audience, increasing your online donations and growing your social media following.
Newsletters are a great way to engage and keep in touch with your donors, supporters and followers. Not only is the content important but having a growing subscriber list is also a priority. Having a newsletter subscription widget or tool on your website allows for new website visitors to keep up-to-date with your organization, which also leads to converting followers into donors down the line.
Search Engine Optimization
Website content should be developed using the best practices of search engine optimization (SEO) for non-profits. Search engine optimization focuses on optimizing your website content to appear higher in online search engine results, particularly through the use of keywords. There are several other aspects of utilizing SEO, such as utilizing headers and sub-headers, adjusting readability and increasing keyword density.
Yoast for WordPress can significantly boost your organization’s visibility on the web by offering real-time tips on how to improve your organization’s website content.
If your nonprofit organization website collects certain data from your visitors, whether it is information when the website collects a donation or from a survey, there is a plug-in to easily build a form and integrate it into the website.
A nonprofit constituent/customer relationship management (CRM) software helps to manage your donor base. This includes being able to manage the donor activity and accessing real-time analytics on how your month or year is progressing towards certain organization goals. The website is just one of the key pieces of your donor activity, so all of the activity that occurs on your website should not occur in a vacuum. Nonprofit CRMs integrate any data that is collected from donations, forms, newsletter subscriptions and other activity that helps paint a clearer picture of how your donors behave in the bigger picture of your organization.
Read more from G2 Crowd on selecting the best CRM software.
Another ideal stream for collecting donations is from online merchandise sales. This can include custom t-shirts, caps, key chains, totes and other merchandise that not only help towards building another stream of fundraising for your organization, but also help build your organization’s brand.
Our open source online store builder allows non-profit organizations and schools to easily build an online store, provide images and descriptions, collect the sale and provide notification of the sale to the non-profit organization to fulfill it. We also integrate with Printful for auto-fulfillment of nonprofit merchandise.
Events are often one of the major fundraising generators for a non-profit organization. Another feature that can be included on an open source nonprofit organization website is an events calendar.
Conclusions on Utilizing Open Source Software for Nonprofits
While there are many aspects involved with building a non-profit website, utilizing open source software is a savvy solution to getting it done. DoJiggy is the perfect partner to securely host your website through our open source software platform, giving your organization the edge it needs to grow and scale. DoJiggy open source websites are easily built by your team, without the high costs and resources needed with more traditional ways of building a website.