Building websites for nonprofits…

Did all those words in one sentence make you cringe?!?

If so, you’re not alone.

I had some of the best and equally, some of the worst, client experiences in my web design career with nonprofits but as it turns out, it’s because I wasn’t fully aware of what to expect when working with them and in many cases, I severely underpriced myself because I didn’t think they had money…

Well my friend, we’re about to bust some nonprofit web design myths and find out exactly how many amazing opportunities there are for designing websites for nonprofits with non-profit organization web designer and accessibility expert, Andrea Shirey!

She’s on the podcast today sharing the ins and outs of how much opportunity there is for web designers who build websites for nonprofits and busts many myths that we as web designers often, understandably, feel.

We cover:

  • What to expect when working with nonprofits
  • Busting the myth that nonprofits don’t have the budget to spend on websites
  • How having accessibility knowledge can help you stand out with nonprofits
  • How to effectively work with organization boards of directors

And a whole lot more!

I needed to hear this one when I had some tough experiences working with nonprofits so I hope this convo helps you reconsider working with them if you’ve written them off!

In this episode:

00:00 – Web Design Opportunities for Nonprofits
07:01 – Nonprofits vs. Small Businesses
16:34 – Managing Boundaries and Decision Making
27:29 – Grant Funding and Website Services
31:07 – Maximizing Corporate Donations
41:31 – Designing Accessible Websites and Educating Designers
51:52 – Opportunities
57:53 – Course Offer for Web Designers

Listeners can use code JOSH23 to save $50 off the Access For All Essentials Course

Connect with Andrea:

Featured links mentioned:

Episode #311 Full Transcription

Andrea: 1:42
Don’t assume they don’t have any money. Don’t assume that things aren’t as important to them as they are to a business. I mean, in many ways they run like a business. Obviously it’s going to differ based on the organizational size and their mission and who their audience is. But you know, I think a lot of people are like, oh, I don’t want to work with no privacy, they don’t have any money, right Like I’m living proof that they have some money. Welcome to the Web Design Business Podcast with your host, josh Hall. Josh Hall helping you build a web design business that gives you freedom and a lifestyle you love.

Josh: 2:17
Hello friend, welcome into another episode of the Web Design Business Podcast. When I say web design and nonprofits in the same sentence, how does that make you feel? For me personally, there are some mixed feelings and some red flags, because I have had some amazing non-profit clients in my day. I’ve also had some of the worst client experiences I’ve ever had, who were nonprofits. However, regardless of that, this could happen in any industry, by the way, but nonprofits just bring a different set of I guess we’ll call them challenges or different deliverables, and just different client situations, communication situations. All of the above for web designers. However, there are huge opportunities for web design for nonprofits, so much so I honestly had no idea how much opportunity there are for web designers to help nonprofits. You could actually make an entire web design career out of doing nothing but nonprofit websites if you wanted to, and I want to share this with you for this talk. There is no one better in the industry to talk to you about this than Andrea Shirley of 1.9 Design, who specifically builds websites for mostly nonprofits. She serves small businesses as well, but the primary client base that she has are nonprofits and man, she has got like a wealth of knowledge on how to work with nonprofits, what to expect when you’re a web designer working with them, how to price herself when you’re dealing with an organization who is a nonprofit. But also if you’re the minds if you’re of the mindset that nonprofits don’t have money, think again, because nonprofits sometimes have way more money to spend on a website and in marketing than some small businesses do. So, all that to say, there are so many opportunities for you to work with nonprofits. Also, let’s be real about this Nonprofits often have amazing missions and passions, like some of my favorite clients were nonprofits because they were very purpose-driven and passion-driven and some of their stories and mission behind what they did was like amazing, like life changing and life giving missions and impact that they were making. So it’s an honor to be a part of that as a web designer. So all that and more we’re going to cover in this one. What a great conversation. Man, I’m excited to bring Andrea on here Now. Andrea also has kind of a secondary superpower and that is accessibility, which makes sense depending on the type of nonprofits you’re working with. So, on that note, she actually has a website accessibility essentials course specifically for web designers and as a listener of this show, she has a special gift for you, including that course and some other free resources. You can go to 19designnet slash Josh and there’s going to be some resources there and a special offer for her accessibility course for web designers. So I highly recommend checking that out after this interview Again, that is, at 19designnet slash Josh. Go check that out and again, without further ado. Here’s Andrea. We’re going to dive into nonprofits and the amazing opportunity for you as web designers that you can do with nonprofits, but you need to be prepared to work with nonprofits. So that’s just like what we’re going to get into. Let’s dive in, shall we? Here’s Andrea. All right, well, andrea, welcome on to the podcast. You have the Christmas tree behind you, looking festive. That already gets me in a good mood, so I think we’re going to have a good chat. Thank you so much time for, or thank you for taking some time to chat today.

Andrea: 6:01
Of course I’m happy to be here. I’m a regular podcast listener, so it’s kind of nice to be on the other side of the table here today.

Josh: 6:08
Well, thank you so much for joining. You have kind of an interesting I guess you’re in an interesting part of the market as a web designer and as an educator because you work with both small businesses and nonprofits and you’re very clear about that On your website. At them now it even says I work with nonprofits and small businesses. I did work with nonprofits, but I did not advertise that necessarily. I’m sure, like many other web designers, I’ve had some nonprofits that were really cool and I had some nightmare nonprofit experiences. So I’m really excited to pick your brain on that. And, of course, you have some skill set and insight on accessibility as well. So I’d love to dive into all that. But I’d really like to start out with why nonprofit? Why have you made nonprofit forefront in your copy and in your messaging?

Andrea: 6:56
Yeah, that’s a great question and I think you ask anybody. We all have a range of. Some of my best experiences in seven years of business have been with nonprofit clients. I’ve seen some of the best outcomes and it’s also been the thing that’s almost told me to like. I think I’m gonna burn this thing to the ground and start over. So well, not, it’s an easy answer because I’m a former nonprofit executive director and so the bulk of my career has been in the nonprofit world. My very first job out of college was the director of the annual fund at my alma mater, west Virginia University Foundation. I was running the tele marketing program that got me into the fundraising world, which I didn’t know anything about. I have a marketing degree, business degree, and but that kind of just led me to the next job to the next job, and those have spanned from being an executive director of a United Way affiliate here in the Middle High Valley area, but I’ve also worked at the university level doing corporate fundraising and obviously I’ve been on boards as a board of director and so I have this big range of experience with nonprofits and when I decided that I was kind of done with that phase of my career and actually the whole reason I started this business go into make a long story short, but I was in my role as helping nonprofits learn how to fundraise online. I heard over and over and over again well, we don’t have access to our website or we don’t know how to update our website, or so and so firm did it and we they went out of business and we’ve never been able to log in. I mean, I heard it all and I was so frustrated because they just needed the tools to raise money online to get their message out to their audience and they literally were running up on these barriers. And so when I decided to step out of the workforce full time and was kind of twang around with starting my own business, I thought I think I can build websites for nonprofits in a way that really works well for them. I have the design skills, I spoke the language, but I wanted to empower them to update their own sites, to have control, to learn about the process. What the heck is website hosting Like? I teach my clients that stuff. I’m not your typical. I kind of say on my no offense to the male audience. I’m not like a tech pro firm that it’s like, oh, you can’t touch any of this because you’re going to break it. I go the opposite route. I spend a lot of time making sure that my client knows what a host is, what a domain is, why it matters where you buy your domain, and so, long story short, that’s why nonprofits, because that’s where all my experience was. But then I realized, hey, I’m also a small business owner and I have obviously corporate work experience, and so I wasn’t sure if the market would dictate, if I would have enough work, frankly, just to do nonprofits. And then, as you get known in your local community, in your regions, you have had a friend that has small businesses and said, well, I need a new website. And I was like, well, I can do that. And so I really I do. I serve both audiences and I like it because they bring different things to the table. And they bring. It is really a different experience, depending which one I’m working with.

Josh: 10:04
Well, it makes a whole lot of sense with your background. So that lays the perfect foundation for why you would. You would really highlight nonprofits, because I’m sure you do. I mean, you literally have an insider’s perspective right as far as what their needs are, what the main challenges are. So everything you said right there, that could be a homepage with laying out the challenges, how you know your experience and why you’re the person to choose, apart from somebody like myself who would be like I can build your website, but I’ve never been in a nonprofit. I don’t know how that works. So that makes a ton of sense. And to your point with the small businesses, I think anyone thinking about niching down, particularly with nonprofits who are in nonprofits, usually business owners or professionals- A lot of them, right, you know, like a lot of times that’s a part of their. They might run a business and then they are part of a nonprofit. So that’s really, really cool. It makes sense that you would do both ends of things. What is the difference you mentioned? There’s a suite of, maybe, challenges or differences between the two. I guess what are some of the differences web designers should be prepared for when working with a nonprofit versus a small business?

Andrea: 11:10
client? That’s a great question and I’ve had a lot of fellow designers reach out to me and say, hey, I would let you know I have this lead from a nonprofit. But you know what do I do? I talk to them differently what I say. I mean one of the biggest things that I you know I don’t do proposals a whole lot. I’m very lucky at this point in my, in my business, that a lot of people come to me and they just want to work with me and I don’t have to kind of pitch myself. But at the time where I did, if you’re going to, you know, pitch yourself to a nonprofit. You know who’s looking for a new website or a website redesign. First of all, let’s not just say you can get, help them make money and get more clients. Right, they need, they need the, you need to speak their language. They’re looking at appealing to donors, right, we don’t really. I mean they do have client program clients, but really their website. You know, and that’s one of the biggest differences at the same time between the businesses and the nonprofits is, if you’re a small business, typically you have a pretty, pretty tight idea of who your audience is. You know what your demographic looks like what they like to do, where they spend their money. A nonprofit’s got to appeal to a lot of different audiences on the same website and it’s got a flow right. So you might have volunteers coming to look to see. You know, is this a place I want to give my time? You may have a potential donor, individual donor, saying you know, is this where I’m going to make my gift this year? You may have a corporation who’s looking. You know you’re asking them to make a corporate gift and they’re coming on your website saying well, why would I give to them at a corporate level? Or a foundation you’ve applied for a grant, is that grant fund are going to come and find the data and the outcomes that you’ve talked about in your in your grant application? So your website as a nonprofit has to appeal to all these different audiences kind of seamlessly and almost on every page, because you know which page they’re going to land on. You can’t just have a donor page except you know expect that they’re not going to go to the volunteer page.

Josh: 13:00
So yeah, and that differentiation that you mentioned between the call to action for a nonprofit versus a small business. You’re totally right. They I would imagine you should, probably anyone is doing both. I would think that you’d want like a nonprofit web design page, ideally because you could speak the language of like boost or not boost revenue, but boost donations, get volunteers, join the cause versus grow your business.

Andrea: 13:30
Yes, I struggled for the last seven years. If you go to my website, I am constantly trying to find that line of. I have to. I always say businesses and organizations and I have struggled, you know, just be honest, as a website designer, should I have two different businesses but I have such brand recognition.

Josh: 13:48
Yeah, I would just have a page. If I could give you any coaching advice, I would. I would. I would have websites for nonprofits, websites for small businesses. They do have special needs and I imagine, from an SEO perspective, I don’t know how many people are capitalizing on nonprofit web design. But because there is really a difference in the needs and and the understanding of that, especially with your background, I would think that would be the way to go. You get it. You know your services, or your services, but they are catered differently in the way you tell them.

Andrea: 14:19
It’s just that trickly that tricky duplicate content thing with Google, because a lot of the things you want to say on a, on a website services page, like you need to tell them about the process, right? So I’ve trust me. I have like six drafts behind the scenes of like and I and I I’m very lucky in that I typically don’t have a lot of downtime between clients, so it hasn’t been a priority, but I would encourage somebody if they are looking at this. I think you’re absolutely right, because you really are. You really are selling your services in a different way and you’re offering something different to each of them.

Josh: 14:50
And I was just thinking you’re at a different point because you are getting so many organic referrals and it doesn’t seem like it’s really a problem, like if you’re busy. If you got to a point where you’re like, okay, this is a huge problem, everyone’s confused, then I would say, for sure, let’s make a split here. But you’re, you’re right, the duplicate content thing can be tricky from an SEO perspective. But one strategy that I would think about with this not only for you, andrea, but just for everyone who has like a couple of different niches is the landing page for, like, nonprofit web design versus small business web design. You could almost have a page that’s almost just like the verbiage and just the different challenges, but those could then lead to website design services and that’s its own page.

Andrea: 15:31
Yeah, that’s great idea, that’s its own page.

Josh: 15:34
So under web design could almost be like four items. That’s like nonprofit web design, small business, our services and then like process. Yeah, that’s a great idea, just for anyone who is in this bucket, because I’ve coached a lot of people who do serve two different niches, or nonprofits and, yeah, you’re right, there is just a big, big difference and you just have to speak to them.

Andrea: 15:57
And I think that’s one of the selling points that I’ve always been able to make when I, you know, get a nonprofit leader on the phone is like listen, I’ve been at your desk. I know that you’re balancing a hundred things today the websites, the bottom of the list but I also know you probably can’t tell me off the head how you know, off the top of your head, how much money you raised online this past you know the past quarter and they’re like oh, we have no idea and you know, I teach them how to. You know, first of all, how to get the website in place so we can get the online donations, but then also how to maintain that and carry that through. I’m not having those conversations with businesses. We were talking about conversions, but it’s in a whole different way. So, yeah, that’s definitely one of the biggest differences. The other one, of course, is working with boards. I’ve been a board member. I’m a current board member. Obviously, I’ve led a board of directors. They love to dictate design even though they don’t understand. They’re not the primary audience, and so that’s always a challenge. We have a group of people involved, we talk. I talk a lot in my discovery calls. I talk a lot about single decision makers. You can have all the committees you want, but when I need one person to come back to me, that’s a hard boundary for me and ask me why I’ve learned that lesson early on. And then helping them understand the connection I feel like businesses understand like oh yeah, people need to go to our website to either find our physical business, buy online, you know, find out when we’re open that business, kind of get that Like the function part of the website. A lot of nonprofits in my experience are looking at it like this pretty brochure, and so that’s sort of it. That’s a difference I see between the two is really educating them, helping them understand the connection between their website, their social media, their fundraising efforts, their other you know traditional marketing kind of see them, help them see that all, as like it’s really one package they’re coming at. You know these audiences from different angles, so yeah.

Josh: 17:48
That makes sense. You mentioned the board thing. I was going to say my experience working with nonprofits. The major issue and the major thing that led to a lot of the nightmare situations for me was the board thing, and that’s what I teach a lot of my students. Like don’t I was not, I would never say, don’t, work with nonprofits, but just heads up. The experience of setting boundaries is going to be different with a small business rather than a board Because, like you mentioned, the decision making is the tricky thing. So to your point, you already hit the most important point, which is one decision maker Right.

Andrea: 18:20
And I call my clients. You know, cause, normally it’s the nonprofit director that’s making the call. That’s, you know, vetting, vetting folks, and I coach them on like I think sometimes we just have to equip them to go back to the board. I’m like here’s the language you can use with the board. We absolutely want your input. Here are the times that you’re going to have input, but here, here are the times that we’re going to focus on. You know, maybe do a focus group of our donors instead. Or remember we’re trying to appeal to a corporate audience and you already know and love us. You’re not really our audience. Board members just don’t think like that. Sometimes they just need somebody to remind them. You know that it doesn’t matter if this box is blue or black or you know purple it’s. You know what’s going to, what’s going to translate from somebody going to read the message and hit the donate button. And so I coach those executive directors a lot on how to talk to their boards about that.

Josh: 19:07
And how do you help with the hierarchy thing? Cause this is where it could get tricky, and I remember this well because I remember I did a website for a small business, and it was actually it was a Galamite networking group for her business and her dad had just joined a nonprofit and they needed a website. So she got me in touch with him, and he got me in touch with them, and they signed on for a decent size website. That wasn’t terribly intricate. The problem was, though, I kind of thought that he was going to be my primary contact, but he was brand new, so he really didn’t have any Like say for the board as much, and I remember they I was like an hour away they asked to do a meeting to review the website and stuff, and I went there, and it was one of those where it was like why did you call me and make me drive an hour? Like you guys need to have this conversation first Before you come to me, because I was just sitting there listening to them bitch and bicker and all this stuff, and I was like, oh why, it was one of those were like I so vividly remember doing that, and I was like, ok, moving forward. I’m going to get one. Not only one point of contact, but make it clear who the decision maker is. That’s a difference to right who’s the decision maker, who’s the primary contact.

Andrea: 20:23
Very rarely do I work with anyone directly on a board of directors. To me, and from my experience of sitting in that position and then just working with them for the past seven years, the board right there, they’ve got the fiduciary responsibility. Those conversations around what is our? But you know what is our budget allow for this project? What kind of timing are we looking at? You know, how does this tie into our greater vision as an organization? Once the designers been hired and engage and there’s a contract sign, the board really shouldn’t have anything to do with the project. If the executive director wants to go to, like, the marketing committee or the fundraising committee and get input on language or different initiatives that they want to showcase, that can all be done during the client homework phase. Once you know, once that client homework comes to me, I expect a plan for them that says these are the four programs we’re highlighting here’s. You know, here is the rough copy for the, for the online giving page and what they do outside of like in the approval process. Once I send them a draft that’s up to them like they want to take it to the board and hash it out and all that kind of stuff. But I need that ED to come back to me and say, ok, here’s where we are going forward and it is. I mean, again, it’s a little bit easier. The longer you’re in business, the harder you can, you know, really hold to those boundaries. I can be a little more forceful, kind, but you know, just kind of like Strong in my convictions of like listen, you know, and I always say like I’m doing this because I’ve worked with people who don’t do this. This is going to be easier on you. I’ve seen it work the other way and I again just giving them language A lot of times. Maybe they’re intimidated by their board or they just like don’t want to hurt somebody’s feelings. I’m like, ok, you can phrase it this way.

Josh: 22:07
So with the primary contact, do you? In that case, if they weren’t the decision maker, would you just say like this is what you need to do. You need to get a plan and this and then come back to me once a decision is made. Is that kind of how to handle that? I mean pretty much.

Andrea: 22:20
I’ve done a handful of like calls with like, maybe a member of the board and, like the market, if it was a larger nonprofit, maybe their marketing person or their community outreach person. But for the most part I try to stay out of all that and remind them that their board also shouldn’t be in the weeds. That’s not the role of a board of director. The board of directors roles of fiduciary oversight role and, like I said, once it makes it to the budget and a contract’s been signed, their inputs welcome right in that initial questionnaire. I give them. I’m happy to have as much, you know, feedback, but as long as they understand, hey, you know I’m not the primary audience here. I’m already a fan. Right, I’m already engaged. We’re trying to reach out to new people who don’t know about us and try to find a role for them. Right, sometimes you can throw them a bone, like I love to do an internal board portal page on my nonprofit website so that I can get eds to stop emailing documents all over the place and board members saying they didn’t get the email. We create a board portal, put a password on it. That’s where they post the agendas in the minutes and upcoming meetings. So we get the board all up involved in that. They can make that page look whatever they want, and so they can make that page look whatever they want, and so they feel like they have this big role in it.

Josh: 23:34
But it’s really limited to like this page that the public really never sees. You find like OK, so I had some nonprofits who are awesome. They were like, I mean, they paid me well, they didn’t scoff at the price and then probably not a shocker. I had some that basically expected like a $10,000 website for free. In fact, I had one meeting one time where I went out with a friend, of a friend basically, who I had done website for, and he’s like, hey, I have a friend who is in a nonprofit and he wants to ask you about doing their website. I was like, oh cool, yeah, I’d love to meet with him. So we met up and it was very awkward. He kind of got awkward and he was like because he told me about the scope of the project, what they’re looking to do, and he’s like he’s like I did want to let you know this is something we are looking to do pro. You know, to have you do pro bono, but you’ll get a tax right off and everything. And I was just like I was very easily get offended and I wasn’t offended as much as like are you freaking, kidding me, dude? Like I don’t even know you would be one thing if I knew you and you knew I was into the mission, and not that I wasn’t in the mission, but you know like I it was. It was very off putting for someone to be like, ok, we want you to do a ton of work and train us and all that stuff and we’re expecting you to do this pro bono. It wasn’t even like what do you have? Do you have an offer for nonprofits? It was like, straight up, we expected this for free. So I had a couple drinks and left. But I want to know, like, how common is that in nonprofit World and how do we? I guess the question is how do we combat that?

Andrea: 25:04
I don’t know, because I haven’t really happened much relevant, for sure, and I always think like would you ask your accountant for that, would you know? Would you know? what you would be like. You know, could you just do all this work for free? You’re not going to. There’s something about this business that people think you know, that they undervalue. I feel like a little bit. So I know a couple of things and I know it’s controversial and I have. You could find 10 people on each side in an hour Google search of do you put pricing on your website or not? I do. I keep it as a range so people know what the bottom is and the you know that it goes up from there. I’m very clear at the inquiry. You know part of the inquiry process where I say you know this is the bottom price, no matter how big the site is, and then it increases, you know, based on X, y, z factors. So I lead with that. So there’s a new view. If you go to my website as a potential client, nowhere are you going to assume that maybe I might do your website for free. If somebody comes to me, if they go ahead and fill out the form, and in my inquiry form you have to basically hit the drop down of like here’s the package I’m interested in and you know I’m assuming like. I think there’s even a little link there back to the prices of those packages. So I’m making sure they see that because I don’t want to waste their time and I don’t want to my time. If they come through that and then in the call they’re like well, it’s really above our budget, that kind of thing. I have started and again, this is seven years into business. I think if you’re a year one, year two, it might be a little bit different. You may decide, you know you want to build that experience and lower your prices or rethink the package to make it more affordable. But I started giving resources on how to find grants to fund your website design. I think you just had somebody on the podcast. I saw it in my feed, so I created a pretty in depth blog post around that and I’ve been. I give that to people as a resource and say you know, I understand you really want it right now. You know, maybe you know, take this advice, go and see if you can get a grant to fund this. I have lots of clients that have come back to me and go like I got a check from XYZ Foundation, we’re ready to go, and I give them the tools to write that grant request in a way that you know that they probably wouldn’t otherwise like from my here’s. Here’s the case you’re going to make about outcomes. Here’s what we’re going to be able to do with our website. Here’s what it’s going to feature. Here’s why you can’t do this right now, all those things that I know again because I’ve been in the industry. I know what grant funders are looking for.

Josh: 27:29
I was going to say as a nonprofit, yeah, I wondered if we were that was going to come up, so I just found your blog post. I’m going to make sure we link that, which, yeah, you’re right at the time of recording this with you. Yeah, this week is when Julia Taylor’s episode came out about grant funding, and one aspect of that that I don’t want web designers to miss is you could get it for your business, for sure, but yes, get it for your clients, like empower them to go for a grant if they can’t afford your five or ten thousand dollar package, and they just might be able to use what a great resource is seven best practices to successfully write a grant proposal. So, yeah, I’ll make sure we link this in there, because this could be super valuable. I love that.

Andrea: 28:09
If it’s a nonprofit hat, I think has some, some ability, and some time I may also recommend a template. I have a lot of friends that sell website templates and so I may recommend like, ok, well, you could go and grab this template that’s got a pretty good outline for a nonprofit and maybe then they contract with me for copywriting and then I review it before they launch it right so they can’t afford to work with me. As a whole, I can kind of piece out some of those services. I’ve had a handful do that but in my experience and the whole reason I have a template shop, it is not include website templates, because I know these nonprofit directors at least the many hundreds that I’ve worked with and they’re on my email list. They don’t have time to do their own website. That’s why, they want to hire somebody. They have way too much on their plate, so the template approach is not right for a lot, a lot of them. But if it’s a bigger organization maybe has somebody on staff that could take a template and run with it, they could contract with me for a few of those services.

Josh: 29:07
OK, gotcha, very cool. One thing I love to talk about is the fact that nonprofits some of them do have really healthy budgets and I actually one of my. When I got into web design I ended up when I actually first got into WordPress. I ended up getting a really good nonprofit client that something happened with their web developer and he moved on. But they had a site that was pretty legit and they just hired me to basically be the webmaster and do updates and in the early days it was really cool. It was like 400 bucks a month, which when I was getting started it was like hell, yeah, I can update some about pages and staff and some numbers and that was awesome as a great little retainer. So some nonprofits I just want to make sure everyone knows like nonprofits are not all like cheap type of people who have no money, like some of them really do have some funding behind them.

Andrea: 30:01
Absolutely. I mean I can think of three, four clients that I’ve had this year that have been, you know, $10,000 websites from nonprofits. I mean they are, you know, if they’re managing their money well, right, and they’re looking at this as an investment and they have a decent-sized staff or budget, they understand, right, that this is an investment. This is something that’s going to and I can make the case really quick in a discovery call that the investment of your website is going to come back to you tenfold I mean nine times out of 10, they’re going to make that money back in a quarter or two quarters through online giving and they just, you just need to be free.

Josh: 30:39
Do you highlight donation, like results for donation and almost case studies for some of you, I should. Was that touchy Because I’m too busy.

Andrea: 30:48
I’m really excited to sign on or would do that. I have like, and I’m sure most of your audience does, or you might like, this list of blog post topics, a mile long, that I want to write that. I just never seem to get the time to sit down and write, but I would love to because I I mean, I had a client this year in the first quarter, I think. We launched their site in March. By June they had secured a $10,000 corporate donation unsolicited. The corporation was local to them, found that they were. They had money that they had to give through their annual pot. They found their website online through a Google search because we had excellent SEO. We had a whole page dedicated to corporate support and that corporation reached out to them and said hey, we’d like to give you $10,000. This is something you could use. And they were. They called me. I was like the second call, they called their board president and then they called me and were like, oh my God. So that was so fun because I try, you know, you tell and tell and tell them in the process, but then it actually happens and so, andrea, why is that not on your website?

Josh: 31:51
That should be like homepage, before the details nonprofit, this because that’s it. Like even that. For anyone who is thinking about like, how do I do case studies and stuff, it could be as simple as that, which I’m reminding myself of.

Andrea: 32:04
That, too, I need to take notes, I know.

Josh: 32:07
I would really that right there, like because you just articulated where they were at, what you did, the main aspects that help in detail, and then the results, like they had a huge investment. And the reason I think for nonprofits to even perhaps more so might get a quicker return is because they’re not selling like a service or something they’re. They’re really a lot of. It is probably just awareness and just better conversion tactics versus, yeah, like a service or something when it comes to as a donation, because a donation doesn’t have any fulfillment behind it, Whereas if you sell a service as a small business, that’s going to sales are awesome, but it puts sales, put stress on a team, a system, whatever hours, whatever. So yeah, oh my gosh, I would do that. I know I’m like.

Andrea: 32:57
I don’t have that out there. I mean, obviously I’ve talked about that with my audience, my email list and things throughout the year. But I think if I, when I look at these generic you know template, you know everyone’s selling website templates and I get it’s a lucrative business. I think it’s a great idea for a lot of designers Most I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a nonprofit template that has a corporate gifts section and that’s a big opportunity. So if you’re listening and you sell templates and you’re marketing to nonprofits, I absolutely recommend that you have a corporate giving page Because even if you don’t have an official corporate giving program, you can still appeal. You know you’re asking corporate sponsors, I’m sure, for event sponsorships, gifts throughout the year. So, you know, showcase a couple of your current corporate donors, talk about how you steward your corporate donors, how you know. Maybe you can. You know I always recommend nonprofits like offer them a tour behind the scenes here, how our nonprofit operates and then give them an easy way to give online. That’s the quickest way to make your your return on investment back from a website project.

Josh: 34:03
Are corporations seeking those out to like get numbers off the books for for charity and for for philanthropy and stuff Like. Is that really common?

Andrea: 34:15
I know in our region and I’m not too far geographically from you, but in our region we have a couple of corporations who they haven’t. You know, entire staff person dedicated to community outreach, public relations, and those people have to be taking opportunities back to their teams, right? So I think they’d be crazy not to be searching what those opportunities are. And that’s just where the visibility comes through, that’s where we can encourage them to. You know, use their social media, to, to, to get the buzz but then draw them back into those corporate pages, even if they’re not proactively seeking them out. If you’re going to approach a company, say for an event sponsorship, and you can drop that link to your corporate giving page on your website, I’m going to be impressed. If I’m a corporate, you know outreach, you know staff member and I see that. I’m like oh wow, these people really have their stuff together.

Josh: 35:05
See, this conversation is now making me contradict myself, because after everything we’ve talked about, even to this point, I’m like this could be its own site now, because now you get like nonprofit case studies that are all SEO, you can have the corporate giving page, you can have all this segmented out. But this is great stuff because these are things that I don’t really know of and hadn’t thought of just because I’ve never been in that world, did some great work and met some awesome people and nonprofits. But a lot of this as far as like the results again, just to reframe and highlight the importance of that results are different for small businesses versus nonprofits. So anytime you can showcase real results, real numbers and donations, I mean that’s. That’s amazing. That’s awesome. One thing I did find that was challenging the biggest challenge was the boards, for sure. The other thing that I found challenging was turnover in churn, with some of the members Like I had. I remember actually it was that same one, no, it was a couple. There was another one that I did a website for and the guy was awesome. He was kind of like their tech guy. He did all their domains and email and he could do websites. But you know, it was kind of one of those things where he was just flying by the seat of his pants trying to figure it out. He was a joy to work with. He was awesome Tom. I remember Tom. He left like after the website was done. In a year after it had been done he stepped out of the organization. And I mean the people who were like I set the training, I did the videos, I did the custom dashboard, just like you do, had all these things, but it was. It ended up being a bit of a nightmare because they had people come in and out and in and out and had a really hard time like keeping up training them and then it became pretty time intensive. How do you combat that? Is it just as good as the job as you can with training resources? I guess you have to expect that too.

Andrea: 36:50
Yeah, I think part of it is the expectation. So I and I do not offer as a public service, I do not offer maintenance hosting packages, all this kind of stuff. I understand that’s lucrative and it’s recommended. That has not been my business model and I’m kind of the. My personality is that I like to go all in on a project and then I want to like wipe my hands and I want to move on. I just want to like cut that tie. I’m not like a long-term project gal. For the most part. I do have a handful of like favorites if they’re listening, hi guys that get my maintenance services and pay I love this mask? What are you?

Josh: 37:29
doing, though, because.

Andrea: 37:31
I have a handful of them because I love them so much. A lot of them are business clients either that I use their services. I was a client first and then did the website. I love to write and so I do copywriting for a handful of clients on an ongoing basis. But their services like a yoga studio that I go to all the time, a fitness program that I’m a part of so who better to write your website content than the person who participates in your program every week, right? So I’m in full of those. But, to answer your question, one of it is going into the expectation that I offer. My basic nonprofit package offers four weeks of sort of off-boarding support. So you can box me, you have access to my inbox, I’m going to respond promptly, those kind of things and hopefully within those four weeks we can kind of resolve all of the like oh no, we forgot this or we forgot that and I kind of just build that into my pricing. After four weeks I send an email that basically says your four weeks of support are over. However, here’s my hourly rate. Here’s a link to my calendar so you can book an hour with me to solve a problem, which tells you, right that if you click on that link it’s going to cost you, right? You’re not getting free support. And then, like you said, I do give them a lot of tools to documentation and I have a template shop for nonprofits. It’s actually a template library. This is one fee. You get the entire library and you get everything that’s added to the library as it grows. And one of the templates in there is documentation for like a documentation manual for your website and your email. So it’s a place that you write all of your domain names, your passwords, your account information. I give them instructions on how to share it with a board member. It’s part of their process when boards rotate off and you get a new board member on. If it’s that particular committee that holds this information, that’s on a checklist for you. So I try really hard to kind of hone in on that like succession planning. Basically, I also build all my websites on Squarespace, and so the easiest thing for me to do and I’ve got it saved as a Gmail email template is to send them over to the Squarespace knowledge base where they can get all unlimited support. They’re already paying with that for their hosting, with their you know, with their hosting package. So that’s an easy kind of like hey, here I think you’ll find what you need here, and then if they come back to me they’re getting that link to book a you know, to book an hour slot or something.

Josh: 39:55
That also makes sense. That’s a great setup. It makes sense to why maintenance and hosting isn’t as a priority for you using Squarespace, since it’s self hosted and there’s still a lot for anyone who’s curious. You can still do ongoing support in care for Squarespace, for sure, but it’s usually more content, additions, optimization, thing like that. Accessibility Speaking of accessibility, I knew we were going to segue here because nonprofits in particular are probably by nature the forefront of accessibility. I would say, well, that may not be fair. I mean, I’m sure every corporate business you know obviously has a ton of needs. But the reason I think about that is because, like the I’ll call them the bitching board example, when I was there and they were wasting my time, they were a really cool nonprofit for the disabled and I didn’t even back then that was probably that must have been 2016. Maybe accessibility wasn’t even a word in web design back then, or at least, if it was, I hadn’t seen anything about it. Very, very different now, especially for that type of site where they’re working with disabled people, right, of all variety. So how I would imagine that accessibility if you take accessibility seriously, you could probably that would be an upsell for nonprofits, I would imagine right Like a skill set, or yeah, some people are looking at it that way.

Andrea: 41:21
For me, I’ve decided to build it into all of my packages and I mean again, I think, depending on where you are in your business, a year seven, I can have some hard boundaries. Somebody said the other day in a Slack group that I was in he said it’s easier to design an accessible website than it is to make a client care about accessibility. And I was like, oh boy, he hit the nail on the head right, because a lot of people are like, oh, that doesn’t matter. And I’m like, hey, hang on, hang on. And so I talk about it from day one. Obviously, it’s on my website, it’s a part of every you click on the package, you see that your site’s going to meet the current criteria, whatever the current criteria is. I spent a lot of money and time in earlierlate 2022 and early this year to complete my certification because someone in my family that I love very much was having trouble navigating a website, and it just sparked something in me that I thought, if I’m going to put digital content into the world, I should make sure that every single person can access it. And as I thought, well, I’m just going to do some research, maybe I can find a class or something. I took one class and I was like, oh man, I’m all in. It was so profound that I wanted to be a part of the solution. And I don’t say that from like some like big, like lofty goals kind of thing. But one in four people have some kind of challenge. And the biggest way my eyes were opened is that, yes, it’s certainly important for a nonprofit that’s serving a disabled community, but one in four people have some sort of challenge and a lot of times it’s a challenge you can’t even see. It’s a cognitive challenge where if there’s too much text on the page, their brain is not computing that information and they’re not going to make their way to that call to action button at all, so you’re missing them completely. Or if they land on your site and they have some sort of vision impairment and your color contrast this whole trend of like these minimal websites that are like a tan background with white text I’m like oh my gosh.

Josh: 43:18
Yeah, that’s extraordinary and I’m like, okay, we can be elegant without you know and still make it readable.

Andrea: 43:28
So I got super passionate. I took one class, then I took another class and then I took a course which took me, you know, a couple months and it was a big and financial investment.

Josh: 43:37
What was the accessibility course that you went?

Andrea: 43:39
through. It’s through DQ University, it’s D-E-Q-U-E DQ University, and so they have a web accessibility course and then, if you complete, you can go through their curriculum package and then you receive, then you can qualify to take the accessibility exam, which is the IAP certification.

Josh: 44:03
Okay, and that is D-E-Q-U-D, not DQ, like ice cream yeah exactly yeah, yeah.

Andrea: 44:12
So I just got I kind of got really passionate about it, I kind of got obsessed with it. I went back to all my former clients and started talking to them and I was really honest with them. I said you know, I didn’t consider this the way I should have. I offered them a very, very, very generous offer to go back and make their, bring their sites up to the current accessibility criteria, and many of them had me do that. I met with folks in my community that use screen assistive devices. Talk with them about their challenges. If you’ve never tried to navigate a website without a keyboard or a mouse, I highly recommend that you try it. It will give you a whole new appreciation for how you design a site.

Josh: 44:55
It’s a great test yeah.

Andrea: 44:58
And then and then, eventually I started talking to enough designers about this. They said, okay, can you teach us? And so I put together and the thing about it is you. You start Googling this stuff and it’s overwhelming. There’s so much information, all accessibility is one of this.

Josh: 45:12
Yeah, I mean, I I’m a web design coach and I’ve really tried to stay out of the pulse. And it’s like last year I went on this, this deep dive into accessibility and it I like I was daunted after learning. I also didn’t know how polarized the industry is with overlay options versus like onsite stuff, and it was, yeah, I was like good Lord, I accidentally got into like like the arguments between those two communities because I had somebody from Accessibion and then I had somebody from Accessibion. So it was like, oh man, what did I get myself into?

Andrea: 45:45
Yeah, the widgets. You know the widgets that are out there. I won’t name them because I’m still a little bit scared of getting sued, but in talking with the disabled community, at least here in my community, they hate them, right. They interfere. Those widgets interfere with the technology they’re already using and I, you know, personally, just in my opinion, I think it’s a little bit of a cop out. As a designer of like, hey, I’m going to make it look however I want to look, I’m going to slap this widget on and call it accessible. I’m in the camp of like, let’s do the work up front, let’s design it in a way that’s responsible for this community, that makes sure everybody can use it. It really renders the widgets like you don’t need them. And so I put together an essentials course for other designers so that they I could kind of speak a basic language get them the information. I felt that would make the biggest impact, but without the major financial investment that I put into it, right. And then, and then I created like a dynamic notion checklist that they could use so when they’re working on a project they can pull up the checklist. They can kind of run down through each of the categories like did, I did. I get the color contrast, I get the alt text you know did. And then some things maybe that they may have not thought of. I mean heading structures the biggest sin that I see of you know pages that just have heading structures all over the place. They’re not hierarchical or that’s a nightmare for screen reader users, and so that’s been really successful. I mean, designers have really embraced it. They loved it. Those of take it does take a little bit of time and you can go through it and I’ve had, I’ve had students kind of go through it and, you know, binge it in a day and some people kind of like stretch it out over the week. But I wanted to kind of make it more no pun intended accessible for designers who don’t have the time to deep dive in and want to stay out of like all the things that you said that you got into it. But I like okay, I should know the basics here. This is my job. I’m putting digital content into the world. Let’s make sure that everybody has equal access to see it.

Josh: 47:41
And that’s what is cool, like the basics are pretty common sense really, with color contrast, all text on images, the basic things that are going to make a website literally like seen and visible for everyone, just design, flow, menu, navigation structure, all those things that are really just good website design best practices yeah, great for.

Andrea: 48:02
SEO too. I think that’s what a lot of people miss. I mean, they’re like, well, I’m not really interested in you know, that’s fine, we don’t have to worry about that. I was like, okay, well, you know, google cares about these things too. And yeah, there’s some obvious ones, like the color contrast and the headers, but there are a lot of you know, a lot of sites I see, with a lot of animations, a lot of autoplay videos that are very detrimental to people who you know. If you think about it, if someone’s using an assistive device, a screen reader, they need them to read what’s on the screen and if your video starts playing, they can’t hear what’s being read on the screen because your video is playing over top of that right. And so just having the video controls be accessible, or a lot of people packing websites with code to do cool stuff and not understanding how the code might impact the site’s accessibility. You know, one of the biggest takeaway people say is like I was never testing this before I launched a site. Even if you’re, you might be nailing it all, but if you’re not running it through a site checker before you launch, that’s like one of the easiest things you can do. That doesn’t cost you anything. There are lots of free checkers out there. So in Squarespace kind of gets a bad rap for a couple of these accessibility errors, and so I’ve done I’ve done quite a bit of work with them to help other Squarespace designers with specific code fixes, RE labels, those kind of things to get around platform issues that they haven’t quite addressed yet.

Josh: 49:24
I think there’s quite a few platforms that are catching up to all that. I’m a WordPress guy, which is kind of on the forefront of accessibility, but I’m also a DV guy, which is the builder I use on top of WordPress, and almost all builders I’m aware of are like fixing things and trying to stay up and up on accessibility with the core of the code and the product they create. So, yeah, that makes a lot of sense, especially, like I said, the non. I mean it’s super important accessibility wise for all websites and in the case of a lot of nonprofits, I don’t know what that help donations if that’s something that they are proactively working on or taking.

Andrea: 50:02
I think so Well. One if you’re missing one in four people on your website and one of those has the ability to make a gift to you but they can’t get past your accessibility errors, then right, so that’s a potential donation you’ve left on the table. Two, if you’re applying for grant funding or, again, corporate gifts, and they want to know that you’re doing responsible work and that you’re making your services and your information accessible to everyone, and that’s like a corporate value for them If they land on your website and they see that accessibility. You know I always do, in the footer a commitment to accessibility link links of ritual accessibility statement that talks about the measures that they’ve taken. I give my clients a template for this is in the template shop here, the all the steps that we’ve taken here, the issues that we know are known to our platform, and here are alternative ways you can get this information from us and hey, how can we do better? Contact us. Those statements go a long way. I’m a corporate, if I’m a corporation, and that’s one of my core values, and I see that it’s also one of your core values, you know, over somebody else who hasn’t taken, you know it hasn’t taken that into account. I think that makes a big, big difference.

Josh: 51:05
That’s great. Yeah, that’s awesome. Are there any other red flags for nonprofits that we’ve maybe haven’t addressed as we get ready to wrap this up? I mean, we’ve covered a lot with how to what to expect, how to deal with nonprofits, some of the benefits, nonprofits versus businesses, the different challenges they face, accessibility. I’m curious if there’s anything that you if after we hang up, if you’re like, yeah, nothing is like jumping out, I mean.

Andrea: 51:35
I think maybe just reiterating like don’t, don’t assume they don’t have any money, don’t assume that things aren’t as important to them as they are to a business. I mean, in many ways they run like a business. Obviously it’s going to differ based on the organizational size and their mission and who their audience is. But you know, I think a lot of people are like oh, I don’t want to work with nonprofits. They don’t have any money, right, like I’m living proof that they have some money, right, they they. If you are pitching to them in a way that’s authentic and again, making that case for investment, you can help them see it through that lens. I think the potential is there to run a thriving business just based on nonprofits. And again, the only reason I continue to work with small businesses is because I do love it and it’s a little bit of a. You know, I like variety in my business life and so I don’t want to just go all in on one segment and ignore the other one. But I think it’s. I think it’s a great niche, especially if you have some connection to it and like I do, and you have some, or you just want to learn about it right, like maybe you’re a board member and you want to. You know that that can be enough to give you a little bit of unique perspective.

Josh: 52:45
You heard it here, folks A lot of opportunity for nonprofits. This has been great, andrea. You really. You really enlightened me and made me feel a little bit different about nonprofits. I would say I’m more on the ever-hensive side, based off of my experience, but I didn’t hear this conversation in time to help me. Yeah, I’ve learned all that stuff and I learned every lesson the hard way. Yeah, this has been really good and it makes a lot of sense as to why there’s so much opportunity for this. I mean, nonprofits are continuing to sprout up, just like businesses are. I think the other thing to consider too, if you want to do both nonprofits and businesses, is, like we mentioned, business owners are often a nonprofit. It is like you get one nonprofit instead of one client, maybe one person. You may have been exposed to eight people on the board and they all have their networks. They all have their businesses. It’s almost like a quick way to expand your network if you work with a group of some sort.

Andrea: 53:47
Absolutely. I mean, I guess I’ve thought of that from time to time and that’s really been the case for me. I think it’s great to highlight, or a lot of. I see some folks going after different affiliate organizations. I was the executive director of my local United Way. Guess how many United Way clients I’ve done in six years? Oh yeah, more than you would care to list. Have me list, because once you’ve done a United Way website, you speak the United Way language. I’ve done the United Way job. There are thousands of United Ways all across the country. There are companies that cater to them that are not doing a fantastic job in my opinion Finding maybe those affiliate organizations like a Habitat for Humanity I’ve done many of those because I’m a local board member here in my community Red Cross, you name it. There are all these affiliate nonprofits that can open and you do one and then another and then word spreads them because they’re all talking to each other.

Josh: 54:39

Andrea: 54:40
Yeah, don’t count them out.

Josh: 54:42
Awesome stuff. That’s such a good point, Andrea. Thank you so much for your time. Where should people go to connect with you and find out more? Because you have an accessibility course for web designers, right? I?

Andrea: 54:50
do. The easiest way to do it is just to go to my website, which is 19designnet. That’s one and nine are spelled out, the letters, and then, if you go, slash Josh, that has a link to the accessibility course. If you’re a designer, you can save $50. There’s a promo code on that page for you, for your listeners. That’s probably the. I think that’s the biggest discount I’ve done this year. But it’s Christmas time of feeling generous. And then, once you’re on my website, you can head over to the blog of a lot of different articles. They are a lot focused on nonprofit design and nonprofit marketing. I have a nonprofit template shop this link there. So, yeah, that’s the best place to find me.

Josh: 55:29
Awesome, awesome. We’ll have all that linked in the show notes. Yeah, andrea, thank you so much for sharing your experience on that for nonprofits and accessibility. Thank you so much for putting this page together. I’m checking it out now for all the listeners. Yeah, I mean, you really have some unique perspectives in the way of nonprofits and accessibility, so I’m sure it’ll be a huge help for folks who are wanting to test the waters with us. I’ve found accessibility learning. Accessibility is largely like learning web design. You really need to find somebody who you know and like and trust to guide you through that, because I think personality can help make a daunting, confusing thing seem simpler. For sure, for anyone who really like this, I would definitely encourage everyone to go to 1nindesignnet, slash Josh, and there’s the offer for the accessibility course. So awesome stuff. Andrea, thank you so much for your time. I have a feeling next time we chat you’ll have your own nonprofit website. That is completely ethioed. And then you can do your small business stuff on the side. Yeah, If. I had the gas. I wouldn’t be surprised if I see that happen in the video.

Andrea: 56:34
Thanks for the free coaching. I appreciate it yeah.

Josh: 56:37
All right, thanks, Andrea.

Andrea: 56:38
Thank you.

Josh: 56:41
There we have it, friends. If you had thought, like me, that I just don’t even want to work with nonprofits after a while, I hope everything that Andrea and I covered help you with not only what to expect, but how to approach nonprofits, how to guide them through. I had a blast chatting with Andrea here and I really hope this episode helped you out too. I’d love to hear your thoughts and, for those of you who are designers and who work with a lot of nonprofits, I would love to hear any tips that you have as well. It’s really an area of web design that I have not really talked about too much as far as or created any resources on, so I would love to hear from you if you have more tips that support and back up what Andrea has said as well, or maybe add to some things that we talked about. You can do that by leaving a comment on the show notes for this episode, which you’ll find at joshallco, slash 311. For this episode, I do read all of those and I will do my best to respond to you and check that out. So leave us a comment. Joshallco slash 311. If you got a lot from this and you’ve had any mind blowing moments or some takeaways. Feel free to leave a comment there as well, because I’ll make sure Andrea checks those out and she’ll probably respond to you as well. Maybe you have any questions for her. And again, andrea has a course for accessibility for web designers, kind of a crash course on it. Go to 19designnet slash Josh, and she’s got the offer there for you which is going to give you a little discount on that course, along with some other resources to connect with her and some free resources as well. Well, my friends, cheers to your nonprofit web designing ways. I really hope this helps you. Gosh, I wish I would have heard this conversation, especially when I had some bad experiences, which I know I’m not alone in that, but, man, the good ones outweighed the bad. I would say Maybe in 5050, but because I didn’t have this episode. But you do, so you’re welcome. All right, friends, 19designnet slash Josh for your special deal on that course that Andrea has for you and I will see you, friends, on the next one. Make sure you’re subscribed so you get the next episode. Got some more doozies up ahead? Man, do we have some doozies up ahead? Ok, I’ll leave you with that. Cheers, see you on the next one.

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