Part of the nonprofit struggle is choosing how to spend the money you raise. There is usually not enough funds to completely meet your goals. At the same time, investing in things like marketing and websites cost money as well. Nonprofit organizations of all sizes struggle with how to raise and allocate funds.
A great way to relieve the stress of this decision is to apply for grants. A grant can provide you with much-needed funds to accomplish a particular purpose. In this case, we are talking about website design grants.
In 2021, it’s no secret that a strong web presence can make or break your marketing. A good website can help you raise more money, attract more volunteers, and raise more awareness. But websites are not cheap, especially good ones.
Today let’s talk about how to plan for, find, and apply for website design grants for nonprofits.
How to determine a website budget
These days, launching a website is not as expensive as you may expect. But there is still a very real cost associated with a website project. There may be costs that you aren’t aware of. It’s important to determine a budget for your website project ahead of time. This way, you know exactly what size grants you’ll want to go after. In addition to that, if you win the grant, you’ll be ready to dive in with the development and design process right away.
So here are some things to build into your nonprofit WordPress website budget.
- Hosting – The hosting account you choose is important to the overall security and performance of your website. We might be biased, but we recommend Cloud 22!
- SSL – Most hosts come with a free SSL certificate for your website. An SSL certificate encrypts your syte and makes it secure for accepting donations. If the host you choose does not provide a free one, make sure to budget for the cost of one.
- Domain name – Domain names typically cost about $15-$20 per year. Ensure that the domain name you want is available and that you are aware of how much it will cost to purchase. You can often get a domain name through your hosting provider.
- Themes – The theme you choose for your nonprofit website will determine how it works and how it looks. They vary widely in price; some are free and some cost a certain amount per year. Check out our post on how to choose the perfect WordPress theme for your nonprofit website.
- Plugins – Depending on what you need your site to do, you’ll need to budget for specific plugins. There are many free ones, but the more power you need, the more you will pay. For example, the GiveWP donation plugin free. But if you need some specific features – like recurring donations – you’ll need to budget for a premium plan.
- 3rd party tools – What tools will you need to integrate with your website for it to be successful? Maybe you want to use a 3rd party donation tool or email marketing tool. Make sure you know exactly how much it costs for the plan that you want.
- Courses to learn – If you are going to build the site yourself, or have someone on your team build the site, you’ll probably want to invest in a course or two. YouTube has a ton of great WordPress tutorials, but it’s also a good idea to browse sites like LinkedIn Learning to find premium courses that you can follow along with.
- Developers/marketers to hire – If you don’t want to build the site yourself but instead hire a professional, gather some quotes for that. Many designers and developers offer discounts for nonprofits. Regardless, make sure you have a good idea of their project rates.
How to find website design grants for nonprofits
Finding grants for nonprofits online is as simple as a Google search. Dedicate an afternoon to looking through Google to compile a list of forums, newsletters, websites, and applications that suit your needs.
Remember that not all grants will be specifically for website design. Some may be for marketing or building operations. If you receive that grant, you can decide how to use those funds.
It’s a good idea to make a list of all the grants you can find, then parse them down according to 3 criteria. GetFullyFunded.com breaks this down perfectly:
- Geographic Fit– Funders typically choose to support nonprofits located in certain geographic areas. This may be a city, region, state, or country. When researching, if you find they don’t fund the area you serve, you’re not very likely to get a grant….so I wouldn’t consider them. But if they like funding nonprofits in your city, for example, it could be a match!
- Programmatic Fit– Consider a funder’s mission, goals, and areas of interest and make sure that what your nonprofit aligns with these. Otherwise, you’re not likely to get a grant. Let’s say you run a youth development program, and you find a funder whose priority is youth. It could be a match!
- Philanthropic Fit– Find funders who want to give away the type of funding you’re looking for, whether it’s programs, projects, general operating support, capital, or something else. If you need money to expand a program and they provide grants for program development, it could be a match! But if you’re looking for general operating funds and they only give grants for programs, you might not be so lucky.
Grants are massively competitive. Make sure you are spending the most amount of time on grants you are more likely to win, rather than wasting time on a long-shot.
Here are some good databases and websites that you can use to start searching for available grants:
Here is a list of specific grants that you may want to look into. If any are expired or the due date has passed, save their information anyway. Many grants or quarterly or annual. These are specifically for website design projects for nonprofit organizations:
- Limit 8 Web Design Grant
- Architects for the Web
- Elevation 1 for 1 Matching Grant
- Best Friends Non Profit Website Grant
- Causality Brand Grant
How to apply for a grant
It’s not always enough to find an application, fill it out and leave it at that. Nonprofit grants are highly competitive. You’ll want to do some research and preparation before applying in order to maximize your chances of winning.
Make sure that you are applying for a grant at the right time. Grants are not ideal when you are first starting your organization, if you need money very quickly, or for things like ongoing fundraising and payroll.
In addition to preparing the website budget above, here are some things to have on hand when applying:
- A short brief on the concrete benefits that this grant will bring you. The website should have actionable goals and specific benefits. The more you can drill down on how this website will change your mission for the better, the stronger your case.
- A list of needs that is prioritized. Since you already have the budget from the beginning of this article, you’ll want to make sure that is broken down into individual costs. For example, a fancy marketing plugin may not be at the top of the list, but hosting definitely will be.
- Have a timeline for spending. The grant process can take a long time. It can take weeks or even months to hear back. If you need this website right away, consider another funding option. But if this can be a long term project, make sure you have an idea of how long it will take to build out the site once the funds are potentially rewarded to you.
Once you’ve received the funds from your grant, one of the first things you will need to secure is hosting. Hosting is a vital part of the website experience; a website can’t exist without a host! When looking for hosting, look for a solution that is active, fast, and secure. If your hosting is not up to par, it can affect the experience of your visitors.
Cloud22 Managed WordPress Hosting checks every box. We manage your updates – making sure that when your theme developer releases an update or patch, you get it right away. We back up your site, just in case you make a wrong move in your theme settings. Our servers are integrated with LiteSpeed cache and Cloudflare CDN, so the beautiful design you used your theme to build is served to visitors quickly.