Mittun has been around the block a few times. In order to ensure we are recommending and using the best tools for nonprofit websites, we have to give them a spin – including web platforms for nonprofits. Some are flops. Some get our nod of approval.

Here is the inside look into the four web platforms for nonprofits we recommend.

But like everything we do here at Mittun, we wanted to get this right before we passed it onto you. So I signed up for trials of each of them right here in 2020 to ensure total accuracy. Because I can assure you – the Squarespace I used in 2007 is certainly not the Squarespace anyone is using today.

I analyzed each one for six of the most important qualities you need to consider before signing up or switching over.

Ease of Use

Design Options

Feature Customization

Donation Ability

Mobile Editor

SEO Control

Squarespace

Squarespace holds a special place in my heart. While it was not the first platform I ever used to build a site (RIP GeoCities), it was the first I ever used professionally. 

Before it even asks you to create an account, it prompts you with a few preliminary questions. It asks what your site is about, and offers Non-Profit as an option. Then it asks what your goal is, and includes “Collect Donations” as an option. We are off to a great start.

Squarespace then offers you a few templates that might work for you based on your answers before even prompting you to create an account. You can easily and quickly create one for free and begin editing your site immediately.

The template you choose will likely have 4-6 predefined pages – Home, Contact, About and maybe a couple others. While a donation page is not a predesigned option, you can add a blank page and build it in using their Donation Block.

Ease of Use

While you don’t need to have a background in web design to use the Squarespace interface, it isn’t exactly the most intuitive program. I found myself navigating away from a page without clicking the “Save” button tucked away in the corner.

Design Options

Themes and designs are fairly customizable. You don’t have total control, unless you upgrade and write the code yourself, but you can edit each theme and layout enough that you don’t have to worry about having an identical site to anyone else.

Feature Customization

Squarespace utilizes “extensions” to add on features. There are plenty and you will likely find what you are looking for, but since Squarespace is not open source, you are limited to what they offer.

Donation Ability

Squarespace uses Donation Blocks to allow website visitors to easily make a donation on your site. While it doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles, it gets the job done.

Mobile Editor

Responsive design with mobile-specific editor

SEO Control

Easy SEO control with checklist and upgrades for professional help

Squarespace Summary

Squarespace is great for a beginner who needs something fairly customizable and fairly quick, but difficult to scale if you end up needing something outside of the box later – especially in regards to fundraising.

Wix

It had been several years since I used Wix, and I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. The process to create a site was extremely smooth. If you had your images and copy ready to go, you could easily spin up a site within a couple of hours.

The initial questions went further than just asking what type of business you were looking to create a site for. It recommended features based on your answers and allowed you to choose the pages you needed before it even dropped you in the editor. It also gave you variations on the sample theme to get your inspiration flowing.

However, the trade off for the ease in initial set-up means that you are more limited when it comes to customizing the design. You can edit the font, color scheme and certain parts of the layout, but you have to work within their parameters. You are also unable to easily switch template designs. So if your nonprofit rebrands or wants to restructure the site, you could be starting from scratch.

Ease of Use

A literal breeze. It could not have been any easier. They hold your hand throughout the whole set-up process, and then give you user-friendly editing tools.

Design Options

Part of what makes it so quick and easy is that there aren’t a lot of options. You'll be able to make a nice site, but you won’t be able to go full throttle with your design.

Feature Customization

Since Wix is not open source, there are not endless options when it comes to customizing it. But their App Market is pretty extensive and each tool is fully integrated into their website builder.

Donation Ability

Wix uses an app from their App Market called Get Funding. It offers some interaction for fundraising, like counters and deadlines, but has been known to be glitchy.

Mobile Editor

Responsive design with mobile-specific editor

SEO Control

Gives total control of SEO and provides additional resources

Wix Summary

This is the platform for someone who has zero experience in web development or design and no desire to learn. However, while it will get you a good-looking website up quickly, it may not grow with your nonprofit if there is a rebrand or it requires new capabilities.

Webflow

While most other web platforms emerged in the early 2000’s, Webflow came on the scene in 2014 and made a name for itself. It did so by taking a sharp left turn from the path Squarespace and Wix followed.

Webflow uses casual language and an easy set-up process, but it’s not joking around. During the quick tutorial after making an account, it will tell you all about the Box Model. Once in the editor, you can adjust the padding and margin of everything. You can switch to an inline layout. You can add page triggers. You can even alter the design of the cursor while hovering over a specific element.

And if any of those words were meaningless to you, you’re not alone. This is not a beginner tool. That being said, having that capability could certainly elevate your site when in the right hands.

Ease of Use

This is not for beginners. However, if you are familiar with Photoshop, the user interface is very similar and could help to ease you in.

Design Options

Given how much control you have, you are not limited to the themes and layouts they provide. Your options are endless if you master their program.

Feature Customization

Webflow offers a generous number of apps to use for customizing your site. They also offer a Webflow University that will teach you how to build your own.

Donation Ability

Webflow uses a third-party app called Donately which does far more than simply collect money from generous visitors.

Mobile Editor

Responsive design with mobile-specific editor

SEO Control

Full control over SEO

Webflow Summary

This is a powerful tool that is not for everyone. But if you are looking for web platforms for nonprofits that offer more control over the design of your site and are willing to learn web development, Webflow could take you far. It also boasts a more impactful donation app than Squarespace and Wix.

Wordpress

No point in tiptoeing around it – WordPress is #1. We love it. Our clients love it. 38% of all websites love it. And it is not without just cause.

WordPress is the only option on this list that is open source. This means that more brilliant minds are given the opportunity to create themes, apps and integrations to accompany it. If there is something you want on your site, chances are someone else has already created it for you.

Because so many big names depend on WordPress (like Disney, the BBC and Beyonce), it has to be the best. It is known for being the fastest, most efficient and most stable. I mean, come on. If Beyonce gives it her approval, who are we to argue?

We use Pantheon to create WordPress sites, and it is so smooth. It eliminates the slightly more cumbersome downloading process normally associated with building a WordPress site from scratch.

After creating a Pantheon account, all you do is ask it to create a WordPress site for you. Easy peasy. However, unlike some of the other programs, it does not ask you what your goals are for the site. You have to do the heavy lifting to determine your theme and plug-ins (your design and functionality).

Of course, as a nonprofit you will likely want fundraising and donation capability. WordPress also excels in this category with ClassyPress, the plug-in that connects your site to Classy.org.

Ease of Use

With Pantheon, creating a website is easy. The user interface is also intuitive to navigate and nearly every plug-in offers a tutorial.

Design Options

The design options are limitless. With endless themes and the ability to edit everything, you can create anything.

Feature Customization

If there is a feature you are looking for, you can likely find it among the ever-growing list of plug-ins available.

Donation Ability

While there are many donation plug-ins on WordPress, we trust and use ClassyPress.

Mobile Editor

Responsive design with mobile editor

SEO Control

Full SEO control with plug-in options for a boost

WordPress Summary

Can you tell we’re fans of WordPress? We’ve been in this game for a while and continuously test out what is available. WordPress continually rises to the top with its design, functionality and fundraising abilities.

Conclusion

Web platforms for nonprofits have come a long way, even in the last few years. Each one I tested offered full control of the SEO and offered the ability to edit the mobile view of the site. They all provided some form of donation capability and help along the way. But a couple outshone the others.

Best for Fundraising

Classy is the tool for fundraising, and WordPress offers the plug-in to get the most out of it.

Overall Winner

For design, fundraising and scalability, you cannot beat WordPress.

Best for Beginners

Wix does a great job of offering decent websites for those fresh on the scene. 

Shoutout to Squarespace

for their leaps and bounds
improvements since 2007.

Honorable Mention to Webflow

for being a great learning tool for those interested in serious web design.

What now?

We are all about sharing our resources with you. Now that we’ve covered web platforms for nonprofits, check out what fundraising platforms, plug-ins and other tools we recommend.

Or go back and explore your own site. Do you need a new site? Need info on maintenance? Or how to manage the SEO that we talked about constantly in this blog?

We’ve got you covered.

Want help deciding which web platform works best for your needs?

Contact Mittun for a free assessment today.

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