Useful WordPress Plugins for Nonprofits

WordPress Tips for Beginners

WordPress is known for its huge selection of plugins, making it easy to do just about anything with your website. The official plugin repository contains over 41,600 plugins that can help kick-start your nonprofit’s website and blog. The downside to this huge selection is that it can be tricky to find the right plugin for your needs. It’s also tempting to want to install a ton of plugins, causing your site to load slowly. Here are a few tips in selecting the right plugins for your needs, and we’ve included an example plugin page for W3 Total Cache with update information and user ratings highlighted in green so you know where to find them:

  • User ratings: take a look at user ratings, and avoid plugins with low ratings or no ratings at all.
  • Timely updates: consider the last time the plugin was updated, especially if the plugin is designed to integrate with other services like Facebook, Twitter or email list management.
  • Consolidated functionality: when possible, try to use fewer plugins that provide more functionality instead of using a bunch of plugins with limited functionality. Generally speaking, fewer plugins means a faster website.

To make things easier, here are a few of our favorite plugins that we use when working with nonprofits:

BackupBuddy (Website Backups)

What It Does:

BackupBuddy allows you to schedule automatic backups of your site, content and files. It’s crucial to always have a recent backup of your site in case anything goes wrong.

Why We Like It:

BackupBuddy makes it easy to schedule automatic backups that can be downloaded through your WordPress Dashboard, but it also allows you to send backup files to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive or Amazon Web Services. It also has a tool that allows you to restore a backup with only a few clicks, which is really handy when you’re moving your site to another hosting provider.

Gravity Forms (Form Builder)

What It Does:

Gravity Forms is one of the most powerful and flexible form builders available for WordPress, allowing you to build anything from a simple contact form to a complex event registration and payment system.

Why We Like It:

There’s a selection of high-quality extensions for Gravity Forms that allow you to integrate with other services, like PayPal, MailChimp, Authorize.net and many others. While it’s very easy to build a simple form, this plugin also provides a lot of power and flexibility, like hiding or showing certain fields based on conditional logic. Gravity Forms also has a great support staff. The plugin is offered at a few different price points, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get started if all you need are simple forms with no third party integration.

W3 Total Cache (Speed Improvement)

What It Does:

W3 Total Cache stores content on your site so that WordPress doesn’t have to request the content every time someone visits a page.

Why We Like It:

W3 Total Cache provides a wealth of options and settings that speed up how long it takes for visitors to load your site. Getting it up and running out of the box is usually pretty quick and straightforward, and it also offers a ton of customization. W3 Total Cache also supports syncing cached files with Content Delivery Networks, which provides an additional speed boost.

Better WordPress Minify (Speed Improvement)

What It Does:

Better WordPress Minify is another plugin designed to speed up your site. Delivering many files at once takes a long time, since the web browser can only download so many files at one time, forcing the rest to wait until the first batch finishes. Better WordPress Minify cuts down the wait time by combining your site’s files together, serving fewer larger files and allowing other assets to load at the same time.

Why We Like It:

Like W3 Total Cache, this plugin is pretty straightforward to set up for most sites. We love it because it also provides customizations that let you adjust what files are and are not included (and when), which is very helpful in situations where plugins might conflict with each other. It also provides support for Content Delivery Networks.

Google Analytics by Yoast (Website Analytics)

What It Does:

This plugin does exactly what the name implies: it allows easy integration with the popular website statistics tool, Google Analytics.

Why We Like It:

Google Analytics by Yoast makes it very simple to start tracking your website visits by integrating with Google Analytics. It gives several options to hook up the service, as well as allowing you to fine-tune settings, such as ignoring visits to logged-in users.

Yoast SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

What It Does:

Yoast SEO provides a huge amount of settings to help you tweak how search engines see and handle content on your website.

Why We Like It:

The plugin allows you to configure all sorts of settings, including sitemap and robots.txt generation, page title formatting, RSS feed settings, keyword analysis, and much (much) more. There’s definitely a huge amount of things to tweak, but the plugin comes with a handy on-screen tutorial to help you get started once you install it.

Sugar Events Calendar Lite (Event Management)

What It Does:

Sugar Events Calendar allows you to easily manage events and display them in a calendar or list view.

Why We Like It:

We love that the plugin doesn’t come with lots of styles and colors that you won’t have to override, and that it will blend in with your existing site without having to write any code. It also is very user-friendly, allowing you to easily post events without confusion. Lastly, there’s also a paid version available, which brings extra features and calendar views to the table.

The last two plugins have been created by Wired Impact to help with a few specialized needs for nonprofit organizations. They are both free for the main plugin.

Wired Impact Volunteer Management (Volunteer Management)

What It Does:

Wired Impact Volunteer Management is a simple, free way to keep track of your nonprofit’s volunteers and opportunities.

Why We Like It:

The plugin allows visitors to sign up directly on your site to volunteer for opportunities, which you can create as one-time or flexible events. It gives you lots of control over volunteer opportunities, as well as the ability to view and track volunteer involvement. This plugin also allows you to automatically send customizable emails to volunteers reminding them of upcoming opportunities they have signed up for.

Nonprofit Board Management (Board Management)

What It Does:

Nonprofit Board Management adds tools to your site to make it easier to manage your nonprofit’s board.

Why We Like It:

You can easily see a list of everyone on the board including their name, phone number, email address, all the committees they serve on and a photo of each member. It also allows you to post events for board members and includes an RSVP system to make planning meetings easier. There’s also the ability to have centralized resources that board members can access. Lastly, there are two extensions for the plugin that allow you to track attendance at board events, as well as automatically send board members email reminders for events.

These are just a few of the high quality plugins we use every day when working with nonprofits, but there are many more that can make your WordPress website more useful for your nonprofit. Have any that you think are crucial for nonprofits? Let us know in the comments!

Photo courtesy of Nikolay Bachiyski, Flickr