Top 8 Website Builders for Nonprofits

As a nonprofit organization, your website is crucial to your fundraising efforts. Potential donors will look to your website in order to learn more about your organization and its mission and decide whether they believe in it enough to contribute their time or money. As such, you want to find a website builder that will help you convey the values of your organization and encourage donations. With so many options available, it’s hard to decide which website builder is most adapted to your project as well as your level of experience in web design. To make it easier for you, we have compiled a list of what we believe are the top 8 website builders for nonprofits, taking into account factors such as ease of use, functionality, and flexibility. We hope this helps you out on your quest to build your perfect website.

1. Wix

Builder Type: Drag and drop

Personal View: I thought the Wix interface was very easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye. All the different widgets and features are easy to locate on the left-hand sidebar, the and drag-and-drop interface lets you position them wherever you so choose on the page, with a grid outline to help guide you. You can easily preview your website or switch to a mobile editor, so there are no unwanted surprised when you choose to publish your website.

Ease of Use — Great
 Wix has an intuitive user interface and provides a large variety of pre-made templates, so you can build a professional looking website with no coding skills or experience. It has a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor, so you can get a complete preview of what your website will look like before publishing it. Wix even offers a form of artificial design intelligence (known as the Wix ADI) that helps you build the first version of your website automatically!

Functionality — Good
 Wix offers mobile responsive templates so that your website can look as good on mobile devices as it does on a computer screen. It also has strong SEO features to help you optimize your website’s pervasiveness on search engine searches. Unfortunately, once you’ve picked a template for your website, you can’t change it without having to re-insert all of your content — so pick wisely!

Flexibility — Good
 Wix offers blank canvas style editing of its templates, which will allow you to customize each page and element to fit your organization and website’s needs. Not only does it provide a large variety of templates, it also has a large range of widgets to choose from in the Wix App Market. Finally, Wix has a “code” element that you can use to embed custom code into your website, giving you even more flexibility than the App Market already provides.

Pricing
 Although Wix offers a free basic plan, it comes with a fairly large Wix logo displayed at the bottom of every page. Paid plans start at $5 a month, although you have to upgrade to the $10/month Combo plan to get rid of the Wix advertising. However, we recommend the $14 Unlimited Plan, which provides unlimited bandwidth and 10GB of storage, among additional apps and a $300 ad voucher.

2. Weebly

Builder Type: Drag and drop

Personal View: I found Weebly’s interface to be by far the most straightforward. The different widgets are clearly laid out on the left-hand side, with the different types of editors located at the top of the page. When you drag and drops elements onto the page, they snap to a pre-made grid, ensuring that your website looks as clean and professional as possible. It is also very easy to download a new app straight from your website editor if you find yourself needing something that is not offered in the basic set of features.

Ease of Use — Great
 
Weebly is known as the most easy to use website builder out there — so if you’re a beginner with little to no technical experience, this is just the thing for you. It provides a variety of pre-made templates to help guide the creation of your website and a WYSIWYG editor that shows you what your website will look like as you are building it and before it is published.

Functionality — Good
 Weebly provides mobile responsive templates, as well as basic SEO capabilities. In fact, SEO optimization for page titles, descriptions and URLs is directly available in page editors, and more SEO apps can be downloaded from Weebly’s App Center. It also gives you to option to add membership pages to your website, which allows you to limit the visibility of a page to members.

Flexibility — Good
 Weebly’s App Center provides a good selection of apps, separated by purpose and function. In addition to these, Weebly does allow you to add an “embed code” element to your website that you can use to add your own custom code, allowing for added flexibility when it comes to apps. However, Weebly’s templates are very structured, and apps or elements can only be added in designated spots on the templates, which limits flexibility in terms of the design of your website.

Pricing
 Weebly offers a free basic plan, with the first paid plan starting at $8/month. However, we recommend getting the Pro plan, at $12/month, which gives you access to site search, membership page creation, password protection, and HD video and audio.

3. Squarespace

Builder Type: Drag and drop

Personal View: When you first get started with building your Squarespace website, it’s difficult to pick from the different templates that are offered because they all are so appealing to the eye — but at least you know you can’t go wrong. One thing that I found slightly inconvenient was that, after you’ve chosen your template, all of the pages assigned to the template appear on your editor as “demo content” that you must delete and recreate on your own. I understand that these pages and their content simply serve as guidelines and inspiration, but it would be helpful to be able to keep certain demo pages and edit their content instead of having to recreate them entirely. Apart from this, I found the Squarespace interface fairly easy to use and navigate, although not as much as Wix’s and Weebly’s.

Ease of Use — Good
 Squarespace is known for its beautiful, minimalist templates. These allow you to create a professional looking website with minimal effort or experience required. The user interface for the Squarespace editor is also very intuitive and straightforward, making it easy for you to find the functions you need and understand how to use them. However, Squarespace’s lack of support for 3rd party apps and extensions makes it so that basic coding skills are required to add 3rd party features.

Functionality — Good
 Like Wix and Weebly, Squarespace provides mobile responsive templates as well as SEO capabilities. However, Squarespace only provides one level of subnavigation, or subpages, which may restrict you in terms of website design. In addition, Squarespace does not provide a preview mode to help you see what your website would look like before you publish it.

Flexibility — Great
 Squarespace provides extensive styling options with lots of attention to detail. For example, it even allows you to crop image thumbnails, something most website builders don’t offer. It also allows for custom code, like Wix and Weebly, which allows you to embed outside widgets and apps.

Pricing
 Squarespace is one of the few website builders on this list that does not have a free basic option (although you do get a 14-day free trial). Their plans range from $12 to $40 a month, although we believe the $12 personal plan is sufficient for most nonprofit websites.

4. Jimdo

Builder Type: Ready-made templates

Personal View: Although it wasn’t overly complicated, I expected Jimdo to be slightly easier to use. When you are editing page content, there is no sidebar to clearly lay out your options for you. Instead, you have to place your cursor over certain areas of the page and wait for an editor to pop up. Some of the options in these editors are just symbols that you have to learn to understand after clicking on them, so there is a learning curve that comes with using Jimdo. However, the structure that comes with this system does ensure that your website stays very clear and organized, with everything in its distinct place.

Ease of Use — Good
 Jimdo has a simple, intuitive user interface and provides suggested layouts to make it as easy as possible for you to build your website, whether or not you have any previous experience or coding skills. You can also edit your website from the mobile Jimdo app, something that many other website builders do not have or have not perfected as well as Jimdo.

Functionality — Good
 Like the previous website builders, Jimdo provides mobile responsive templates and SEO capabilities. In fact, Jimdo uses SSL-encryption, which is a ranking factor for SEO. You can even pay for their “Ranking Coach” tool if you need help to better understand SEO. In addition, a domain name and email hosting are included in all paid Jimdo packages, which is not the case for most other website builders.

Flexibility — Good
 Jimdo has a decent variety of elements and add-ons, and provides a “Widget/HTML” element that allows you to add your own custom code. However, Jimdo does not have an extensive app center like Wix’s or Weebly’s. Although Jimdo’s templates are partially customizable, they are still subject to restrictions, unlike a blank canvas style editor.

Pricing
 Jimdo offers a free basic option in addition to its paid plans that start at $7.50/month. Free basic option, paid plans start at $7.50/month. We recommend the starting JimdoPro plan for most nonprofits, as the more expensive JimdoBusiness ($20/month) is more adapted if you have an online store.

5. WordPress

Builder Type: Backend editor

Personal View: As someone with very limited coding and web-building experience, I naturally had a more difficult time using WordPress than I did with the drag-and-drop builders. Everything on the sidebars is clearly labeled, so there is nothing to decipher, but there are a lot more options and just overall a lot more text to sift through. If you are someone with lots of experience looking to build a highly customized website, I can see how this would appeal to you, but I can also see how this would be overwhelming to those with as much or less web-building experience than I have. The learning curve is pretty steep, but once you get the hang of it, it really does offer more flexibility. I do wish, however, that is was easier to visualize your website before publishing it.

Ease of Use — Average
 Wordpress uses a backend editor as opposed to drag-and-drop, which comes with a steeper learning curve as it requires some experience and coding skills. The editor is not “WYSIWYG,” in that you cannot see what your website will actually look like as you are building it.

Functionality — Good
 Like the others, WordPress has mobile responsive themes and provides SEO capabilities as well as additional SEO plugins for download. However, WordPress requires regular updates in order to keep your website secure, which may be seen as an inconvenience.

Flexibility — Great
 The main perk of a back-end editor is that you can change anything in your website’s code, which gives you full flexibility and free reign on how you want to design your website. In addition to this, WordPress has a large range of themes and plugins (almost 50,000!) that you can choose to download and add to your website.

Pricing
 Wordpress offers a free basic option, and its paid plans start at a very low rate of $2.99/month. However, we recommend the Premium plan for $8.25/month, as it provides you with extra storage space as well as advanced design customization.

6. IM Creator

Builder Type: Ready-made templates

Personal View: IM Creator’s editor interface reminds me of Jimdo’s. There are limited features listed on sidebars, instead you have to scroll over different sections of your template in order to edit it. When you click on one of your elements, a list of symbols drops down that you have to learn to decipher. Many of them are fairly straightforward if you have a decent amount of web experience (not necessarily website building, just general web use), but again there is a slight learning curve. There are a fair amount of elements to choose from to add to your website, but the overall interface makes the web-building experience feel very minimal — depending on what kind of website you are trying to create, this can be seen as either a good or bad thing.

Ease of Use — Good
 IM Creator provides pre-made, professionally designed templates that are separated by industry to make it easier for you to find the right template for your website. However, IM Creator’s interface is seen by some as being too minimal, and therefore making it hard to use different functions.

Functionality — Average
 Once again, IM Creator provides mobile responsive templates and has SEO capabilities. However, like Wix, once you have created your website, you cannot change your template without having to re-insert content. In addition, IM Creator does not provide any e-commerce tools.

Flexibility — Good
 IM Creator does give you the option to design a template from scratch, allowing for more flexibility than just their pre-formatted templates. It also allows for custom code, so you can embed third-party widgets of your choice. However, like Jimdo, it does not have an extensive app store.

Pricing
 IM Creator offers a free basic option for all, as well as a free premium plan for registered nonprofits. For others, the premium plan starts at $7.95 if billed annually.

7. GoDaddy

Builder Type: Drag and drop

Personal View: GoDaddy’s interface is as simple as you can get. You have 6 different themes to choose from, all with the same basic format. You do get the option to change the theme’s main color, as well as remove, edit, or add sections to your pages. However, while the different section options cover the basics, they are very limited. I can see how this builder would appeal to those wanting to quickly put together a simple but professional-looking website, but I would recommend taking a little extra time to learn how to use another builder on this list in exchange for more functionality and flexibility.

Ease of Use — Good
 You likely know GoDaddy as the main platform for purchasing website domain names. Many enjoy the convenience of purchasing their domain name and creating their website through the same website hosting service. In addition, GoDaddy’s website builder has an intuitive user interface and provides pre-made templates. It also provides easy photo importing and editing, something which is not easily found in other website builders.

Functionality — Average
 GoDaddy’s website builder has SEO capabilities and can create backups and restore the website at any time, something not found in the other website builders on this list. However, it does not allow you to change templates without having to reinsert content. In addition, the mobile responsive templates it offers are extremely basic, and are only offered with more expensive plans.

Flexibility — Average
 GoDaddy provides the option of using a blank canvas editor, allowing for flexibility in page design. It also allows for custom code so you can embed your own third-party content. However, it does not have an extensive app store, and the features it offers are limited and simplistic.

Pricing
 GoDaddy is the last website builder on this list to not offer a free basic option, although it does offer a one-month free trial. Plans start at $5.99/month, with the recommended Business plan costing $9.99/month with added PayPal integration, SSL Security, and SEO.

8. Moonfruit

Builder Type: Drag and drop

Personal View: There’s no denying it, Moonfruit’s interface is outdated. That said, I also found it unnecessarily complex. There are no complete templates, just templates for certain page sections (header, body, footer, etc.), which makes the design process more difficult for those with little to no web-building experience. Having used Moonfruit before their recent Beta release, I am under the impression that they have made their interface even less intuitive. There are two main editors, the home page Beta editor and the “Page Master”, but they don’t seem to work together (the changes made on one were not visible on the other). I most likely need to spend more time getting familiar with the interface, but there seems to be a very steep learning curve regardless.

Ease of Use — Poor
 Moonfruit provides pre-made section templates that allow you to build a website with no previous web-design or coding experience, although there are no full-website templates. Unfortunately, its interface is not very intuitive and is also very outdated. There is also no “snap to grid” for its blank canvas editing, which essentially allows you to place an element anywhere, including outside the actual page.

Functionality — Average
 Moonfruit has SEO capabilities and includes Google Analytics and Google Webmaster, to better help you manage your website. Like Weebly, it also gives you the option of creating membership pages with limited visibility. However, like Moonfruit and Wix, you cannot change your website template without having to reinsert your content. In addition, mobile responsive templates are currently only available in Beta. That said, they are supposedly working on adding a variety of new features, so be on the lookout for those.

Flexibility — Good
 The blank canvas type editor makes for a high level of customization within Moonfruit’s templates — some even think it allows for too much customization. The HTML Snippet tool allows for custom code, however there is no extensive app store and the number of features and tools offered by Moonfruit are limited.

Pricing
 Moonfruit is the second website builder on this list to not provide a free basic option. Its plans start at $6.75/month, although we recommend the Standard plan ($9/month if billed annually) for unlimited pages on your website and increased storage, bandwidth, and admins.

Once you’ve selected the best website builder for you, you’ll need a way to take in donations. Head over to donorbox.org to create your recurring donation form and you’ll be ready to receive donations in no time. These donation forms can be customized to fit with your website design and can be easily embedded onto your nonprofit website!


Originally published at donorbox.org on April 11, 2017.

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