Reasons why your nonprofit organization needs a website content strategy

May 16, 2023

Are you planning a new website for your nonprofit organization? To make the right website content decisions, you need to put content first. To put content first, start with a website content strategy.

Too often, website content is considered at the very last minute. After decisions about navigation and site structure have already been made, a design has been approved and sometimes, after the entire site has been built and is in the final stages of testing and tweaking. But leaving content until last is backward – and that’s not just my opinion as a content specialist. As my former colleague, sometimes collaborator, and web developer Mike Mella of Be Like Water says: “A website’s content is the thing that gets designed.”

Here are a few reasons your nonprofit needs a website content strategy

Your website is your nonprofit’s digital home base

Creating a content strategy gives your website the respect it deserves as your nonprofit’s digital home base. Your website is the hub of your nonprofit’s digital communications, providing visitors with information about your organization’s cause, issues and positions and conveying your organization’s brand narrative (including who you are, your purpose, approach, and impact). Your website facilitates engagement, offering opportunities to donate, volunteer, register for programs or events, sign actions or petitions, make a purchase, or contact your organization.

When you develop a website content strategy, you deliberately consider, balance and support these priorities and functions.

Your website will be strategically aligned.

A successful website project starts with alignment and clarity about the following strategic elements:

  • Purpose: what your website content needs to achieve
  • Audiences: who the content is for
  • Message: what your content needs to communicate
  • Production: how you will create and maintain the content

The research and planning that goes into developing your strategy will help you connect your purpose and content with users and their needs. Documenting these decisions will prepare you to make strategic design and technology choices.

Bonus: Your website content strategy will be a documented guide for all your content creators. You can share it with everyone helping to prepare content for the new site to guide their content’s voice, tone and style. And you can share it after the site launch to assess which content ideas are a strategic fit.

You’ll be prepared to work with your web developer

Mike explains more about why your developer wants you to start with a website content strategy:

“Receiving a content strategy from a client at the outset of the project helps to drive not only the design of a website, but also its development. Having predetermined key audiences, messages, and brand personality for the organization adds focus to the design of a site. It helps the designer to establish a visual hierarchy for elements on the screen, which will improve the user experience.

And the organization’s primary objectives and priority content for the site can drive the site’s development by helping to determine how content should be organized in the back-end, making it easier to manage your website. If I know that objectives A, B, and C are a priority for your nonprofit, I can arrange the administrative part of your site so that the areas that reflect those priorities are front-and-centre for you.”

For more insights from Mike about how a website content strategy supports the design and development process, see Elements to include in your nonprofit’s website content strategy.

You’ll make realistic website plans.

Getting caught up in wish list items and optimistic plans is easy. But your developer will tell you that many website projects grind to a halt because of plans that fail to account for content production.

When you develop a content strategy, you’ll give yourself a bird’s eye view of the project and the scope of the content you need. You’ll consult with colleagues, build consensus and prioritize content decisions. You’ll determine what content you need to develop now vs. in the future, what you can reuse or repurpose, how it should be organized, and what you have the capacity to create. Only when you have a handle on these decisions can you make realistic plans for your new website.

Will you start with a website content strategy?

If these reasons have convinced you to put content first and you’re ready to develop a website content strategy, see my post about the elements to include. Or, if you need help pulling it together, check out my nonprofit website content strategy package.

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