5 Questions Your Nonprofit Should Answer Before Taking Bids for a New Website

Questions for a New Nonprofit Website

We’re asked to bid on a lot of website design projects, and like many companies, we have a list of questions we go through before we put together a proposal.  A lot of the questions we ask are straightforward like “Do you want to continue using your existing domain name?” but others require more forethought from the potential client.

I’ve listed some of the most important questions below along with an example answer for a new food pantry.  At the very least, it’s helpful for your nonprofit to answer these questions before you start reaching out to web design companies.

Q1. Who Are You Targeting with the Website?

Having an idea of who you’re targeting with the website helps you create a site that presents information clearly, meets the needs of your users and helps them accomplish their goals.  You’ll want to break your target audience into groups, and get as granular as possible about their demographics.

The best part about this question is that you just have to understand the “who”.  It’s the web design company’s job to translate the “who” into a site that delivers results.

Example Answer for Our Food Pantry

We’re targeting three key groups for our food pantry’s new website.

  1. Potential Donors: Donors to our organization have typically been older women and men, often retired, who live locally and have little knowledge of how to use computers.
  2. Potential Volunteers: Our volunteers tend to be younger men and women, usually in school or have recently graduated.  They tend to be tech-savvy folks who also live locally.
  3. Those Seeking Our Services: The community we provide food and resources to includes people of all ages, but adults usually reach out for our services or education.  99% of the time they live locally.

Q2. What Goals Do You Have for the Website?

As I’m sure you’ve heard a hundred times, your new website shouldn’t simply be an online brochure.  It should help your organization grow, deliver better services and make you more efficient.  Having an idea of what you’d like to achieve with the new website will drive the website’s entire development, from planning to launch day and beyond.

Example Answer for Our Food Pantry

  1. Increase the number of new donors giving to our organization
  2. Increase the number of people that volunteer more than one time
  3. Better educate the public on how to eat healthy on a budget
  4. Increase the number of event attendees to our yearly gala

Q3. What Do You Want the Website To Do?

This question is really about features and functionality.  What do your organization’s staff and your website’s users need to be able to do on your website?  The answers to this question should tie back to your website’s goals.  You should also make sure to tell the web design companies they can provide suggestions for changes, additions or removals.

Example Answer for Our Food Pantry

  1. Allow donors to give to our organization online
  2. Allow potential donors to read current organizational news including info on our impact in the community
  3. Allow volunteers to see new opportunities and sign up to participate
  4. Allow users to download pdf guides on healthy eating, purchasing food, etc.
  5. Allow us to publish upcoming events and accept RSVPs and payment for events directly on the website
  6. Allow us to manage the website by ourselves, without calling a company to make all the changes

Q4. What is Your Rough Budget for the Website?

This question is always one of the most difficult to answer, but it is so important for a web design company.  Selling a website is like selling a car.  You add features and the price goes up.  The big difference between a website and a car is that the features you can add to a website are basically never ending and typically, more features equals better results.  A budget helps web companies determine what’s feasible, giving them a framework to determine what functionality to include in their proposal.

If you don’t have an idea of how much your organization is willing to spend, provide a range or a top-end price.  You may not know how much it will cost, but you do know there is no way you can spend more than $15,000.  If that’s all you know, then let the companies know that too.

Example Answer for Our Food Pantry

While we aren’t sure exactly how much we’ll spend on the website, we’ve allocated somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000 for our new website.

Q5. What is the Deadline for the Website’s Launch?

Discuss with the rest of the staff to determine a deadline for launching the website.  If there isn’t one, let the web companies know that.  If you’d like to have it done before a big event, but it’s not an absolute necessity, let them know that as well.  Most web companies like getting websites done as quickly as possible too, and they also care about your success.  As long as your deadline is reasonable, they’ll do their best to make it work.

Example for Our Food Pantry

We don’t have a required deadline for our new website’s launch, but our yearly gala is in six months, so it would be great if we could launch the website in four months so people can start to RSVP.

You Left Out Sooooo Many Questions.  Are You Mad?

Some may say I left a lot of important questions out and that’s true, but most nonprofits don’t have the time or resources to prepare a twenty page report to provide to web companies.  Good web companies will also ask you a ton of questions anyways, and you want to give them the freedom to think creatively and drive the discussion.  After all, this is what they do for a living.

The reason I included these questions specifically is because they often require time and consensus to answer.  You will almost definitely be asked these questions by web companies, so it’s nice to have your answers ready.

If you’re in the process of putting together information to send to web companies and have questions, feel free to reach out in the comments.  I’d be happy to help out.

Related Reads

How to Choose the Right Web Design Company for Your Nonprofit

7 Questions to Ask When Starting a Nonprofit Blog

The Foundations of a Great Nonprofit Website

4 Pages Your Nonprofit Website Should Include

Website Goals: Why They Matter and How to Set ‘Em

Image courtesy of JD Hancock, Flickr