New Nonprofit WP Pages Focus on Beginners

Over the past few weeks, Nonprofit WP has gained a few brand new pages filled with more WordPressy goodness.

Images, Media, & Embed

First to launch was “Images, Media, & Embeds.” This page accompanies the “Enter Your Content” section to make sure your pages aren’t just informative but are also beautiful and engaging:

Images and video are the quickest path to a beautiful and engaging website for your constituents, and WordPress gives nonprofits amazing tools to manage media. Knowing how to use the Media Library and is key to getting the most out of your site and keeping it easy to manage.

Like many pages on this site, the goal for Images, Media, & Embeds is to help new users start using WordPress with good habits. Like so many things, the technical skill can be learned, but media in WordPress requires careful application and forward thinking to be most effective.

The third section on Embeds includes one of the very best magical awesome amazing features in WordPress. (Hint: It’s the one used to make a social timeline without a plugin!)

Two New Beginner-Focused Pages

While all of Nonprofit WP targets new-to-WordPress users and less-experienced DIYers, the next two new pages focus on beginners still figuring out exactly what WordPress is at all.

WordPress 101 for Nonprofits

First, “WordPress 101 for Nonprofitstries to answers the question asked by WP Tavern, “How Do You Educate People New to WordPress?” While the website planning phase can’t be skipped, some people will want to start with a broad technical overview of WordPress. This is that overview.

The Nonprofit WP WordPress 101 page gives visitors an high-level look at the component parts of WordPress. Since this site walks users from start-to-finish of a WordPress website project for their organization, most sections of the page correspond to other whole pages of this site with deeper information. WordPress 101 for Nonprofits is so great, it’s now the first item in the menu!

WordPress & Website Glossary

Second, the “WordPress & Website Glossary” aims to help anyone who encounters a term they may not know or fully comprehend. Other visitors may choose to scan the entire page as a way to get a different type of high-level overview than the one provided by WordPress 101. This glossary came directly by request from someone who wished there was a single page just listing common terminology that may be unfamiliar to people new to WordPress or web design.

To promote easy browsing, the Glossary is divided into three sections, “WordPress Terms,” “Web Hosting & Software”, and “Websites and Web Design.” While the WordPress-specific terms are most relevant for this site, anyone building a website will want to know most of the other words and phrases as they build out their site (especially website hosting).

Finally, the new glossary helps readers distinguish terms with different meanings when used in the context of WordPress.

Pop Quiz!

If you think this sounds boring, see if you know the answers to these three questions:

  1. Do you know the difference between a “sticky” header in website design and a “sticky” post in WordPress?
  2. What’s the difference between an “archived” website and “Archive” in WordPress?
  3. Are “header” and “heading” interchangeable?

Not so sure? Better go review your WordPress, CMS, and website lingo!

What’s Next?

There are a few other pages coming down the pipeline, but a good suggestion from a Nonprofit WP user will always take precedence. If there’s a WordPress topic or skill you wish this website covered, please make your request through the contact form!

Nonprofit WP aims to be comprehensive without becoming overwhelming. Hopefully these new pages do just that.

Upcoming Idealware Webinar: Using Pro Bono Help for Tech Projects

This probably sounds familiar:

[Y]ou have a lot of technology needs, but not enough resources or expertise to address them. Pro bono tech volunteers can help you fill in the gaps and realize the full potential of your technology.

Whether you’re seeking pro bono help now or already have some, Idealware and the Taproot Foundation are putting on a great webinar soon that will help you get the most out of a nonprofit website project, WordPress or otherwise.

Using Pro Bono Help for Tech Projects
Tue, Jan 31, 2017

1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Sign up:  “Using Pro Bono Help for Tech Projects” 

Of course, you can already find great advice for working with nonprofit website volunteers right here on Nonprofit WP! As noted in the presentation we blogged from 501 Commons, working with technology volunteers is different than using volunteers to serve food in line at a soup kitchen or welcome visitors at a signin desk.

Attending this webinar should build on the advice on this site and give you more valuable perspectives on getting the most out of free help.

Free projects are not easy! When managed poorly, volunteer and pro bono website projects often cause more problems than they’re worth, so check out this webinar and the relevant pages on this site to make sure you get the most from your next project.

A Tip for Pro Bono WordPress Projects

Whether you attend the webinar or not, here’s one tip: Ask about maintenance!

One of the biggest problems I’ve seen from donated and volunteer-made WordPress sites for nonprofits is that they’re often made quickly and then left blowing in the wind.

While pro bono websites are always delivered with the best intentions, any volunteer or pro bono donor making a WordPress website must tell you about two critical things:

  1. Keeping your site healthy once it launches
  2. What happens if something breaks or you have questions.

Even if that doesn’t involve additional free service, having a long-term outlook is crucial for a successful donated project that’s more help than headache for your organization.

Image Credit: john on Flickr

On Small Donate Buttons & Contextual Requests for Support

When I’m building a website for a nonprofit, it’s common for the organization to ask me to make their donate button:

  • bigger
  • brighter
  • higher on the page
  • anything else to make it “stand out”

Donate Buttons Don’t Cause Donations. You Do!

I always want to please the client—and I definitely want all nonprofit websites to raise more money for the organizations they support—but this request always comes with an “ok, but…” response:

I’m happy to make this change, but a donate button—no matter the size, color, or position—has never compelled someone to donate on its own. Donate buttons just need to be easy to find once you’ve convinced someone to make a donation.

This seems obvious when you say it out loud, but it’s an important point. It’s the work your organization does and how you communicate that which leads to donations.

Why Donate Buttons Matter

One of the preeminent website usability research organizations Nielsen-Norman Group shows when you do need a well-designed donate button in their research-backed article “5 Tips to Get Donations on Nonprofit and Charity Websites”:

When users were ready to make a donation, they wanted to get to the donation process quickly and easily. Unfortunately, many users spent too much time looking for a way to donate when they were ready to do it. In fact, about 25% of the homepages included in our study failed to provide a Donate call to action. [original emphasis]

Those 25% of websites did need a more-prominent donate button, but they only needed it once their website visitors wanted to make a donation.

In order to generate donations, Nielsen-Norman Group recommends that you “clearly explain what [your] organization does,” “disclose how donations are used,” and “display third party endorsements.” If you haven’t done those three things on your website, it’s premature to worry about the color of the donate button.

Beyond the Donate Button

The fantastic web publication about making websites A List Apart offers an amazing example of how you can increase donations on your website with contextual requests in appropriate website content. In the article “The Core Model: Designing Inside Out for Better Results,” we learn about a Norwegian cancer organization that increased their donations.

[M]any users…look for general information on cancer research, and in this context, we can frame [a request for donations] more specifically: “If you think cancer research is important, you can help us by donating.”

Once they added these contextual, integrated donation requests to their websites, they increased the amount of online donations 398% in the first full year of the new website.

This was in spite of having fewer flashy requests for money on the website:

The previous NCS homepage had several banners and menu items pointing to different ways of supporting the NCS. Today, there’s just the “Support us” item in the menu, and the banners are gone.

This makes sense, right?

“Give me money!”

Ask any communications or development person and they’ll tell you that isn’t a particularly great message to raise money for a nonprofit. Yet, that’s all a “Donate” or “Support Us” button has space to communicate.

So remember:

  • The donate button design and placement is important, but not until you’ve convinced people your organization is worthy of support.
  • Don’t rely on your donate button to drive donations, integrate appropriate requests within the context of other website pages that emphasize the reasons for and impact of a donation.

Luckily, WordPress makes it easy to edit a website, so you can hopefully go make some changes right now! Now More Secure & Faster

All future visits to will now be encrypted with an SSL certificate and visited at httpS://

Browser URL bar with Green Lock

That little green icon means a few different things:

  • The traffic between your browser and this website is now encrypted, so all site visitors have more privacy.
  • The site is now served using HTTP/2 which requires HTTPS and is much faster!
  • The site may rank better in search engines since at least Google considers sites with HTTPS to be more secure.
  • The site is more secure, for instance, by better protecting my admin password when I sign in to edit the site.

While I won’t take the time right now to explain the steps required to make sure WordPress works correctly with HTTPS, it’s not too hard for someone with a little technical savvy and if enough people request it, I’ll add a page to the guide.

Thank You SiteGround

Until recently, doing this would require an $80+ “SSL certificate” from my webhost. Luckily, my host SiteGround was one of the very first shared hosts to offer both HTTP/2 support and free SSL certificates via the Let’s Encrypt initiative.

Over the next few years, I expect most sites to move to HTTPS for the speed, security/privacy, and search engine ranking benefits now that there is a way to do so for free. What used to be used to just protect sensitive information like credit card numbers is becoming more available to protect all our web traffic and with added benefits!

What people are saying about Nonprofit WP

It’s been a great first couple weeks for this site as it’s garnered some positive feedback from both nonprofit techies and WordPressers alike. Hopefully that’s a sign of great nonprofit WordPress websites to come!

As always, I truly appreciate the positive words and am always looking for feedback with ideas of how to improve the site!


“Mark Root-Wiley Publishes Free Guide for Nonprofits That Use WordPress” on WP Tavern

“NonprofitWP: How to Build a Nonprofit Site from Start to Finish” on Torque Mag

Guía y recursos WordPress para organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro

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Welcome to!

Welcome to! I am so excited that you’re here.

For years, I’ve known that the limits of my time and energy capped the impact I could have helping nonprofits improve their websites and increase their technical capacity in support of their missions.

This website is the culmination of years helping nonprofits achieve their missions with excellent WordPress websites.

For nonprofits with a small website budget and hoping to use WordPress, this website can walk you through all the major phases of building a new WordPress website. It’s these early decisions that can make or break a website project, and I want to help every organization get the best site possible.

  • If you or your organization are about to start a website project, then get on with it and start with “Before You Get Started!”
  • If you know of people and organizations that could benefit from this website, please share it with them!
  • If you use this site, please let me know what you think and how it can be better.

Over time, I hope to refine and add to the information on this site. I’ll use the blog to post time-sensitive opportunities, events, and updates about content on the site.