How to Build The Perfect Church Website – A Nonprofit Guide
Churches are behind other organizations when it comes to websites. Smaller churches are less likely to have a website at all, let alone one that includes everything they need. Websites are the primary source of information for any organization. A website can increase a church’s search engine optimization (SEO), encourage online giving, and provide attendees…
Churches are behind other organizations when it comes to websites. Smaller churches are less likely to have a website at all, let alone one that includes everything they need. Websites are the primary source of information for any organization. A website can increase a church’s search engine optimization (SEO), encourage online giving, and provide attendees with information on church events and activities.
During the current pandemic, church websites have also become necessary to share virtual sermons with congregations during the shutdown. Websites are not something that churches of any size can ignore. This article gives examples of why a website matters and includes the essential components and questions to ask a website builder.
Websites give churches the option to reach more people, raise online donations, and encourage active participation during our current pandemic. As technology becomes ever-present in lives, churches must research and find ways to use a website to spread their message.
By adding the following pages and techniques to your church website, you can increase your church’s outreach and revenue. These additions also make it easier for the congregation to participate in church activities and communicate.
1. Church calendar
Historically, churches shared church activities in the Sunday morning program or by word of mouth. While that may still work for some, other parishioners who attend virtual church services or do not yet have a strong church family will miss important events and volunteer opportunities.
2. Ways to give
As online donations become more popular, a webpage created solely to collect these donations is essential for your website. Give church members ways to pay by credit or debit card, raise money for the church from friends and family, and sign-up for recurring donations or matching gifts.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Your church can get noticed online with practices like SEO. Keywords and links will increase your church’s SEO and help your church rank higher on Google and other search engines.
4. Event sign-up
Once again, churches promote these events during services or through the grapevine. New church attendees and community members may not get the information this way and miss out on critical relationship-building activities. An event sign-up page allows everyone to find more information about your event and either sign-up or purchase tickets to your next event.
5. Virtual church
The pandemic has made the virtual service a vital part of every church. Many in your congregation do not feel comfortable attending church in person. To keep these members as a part of your church and even increase participation from others, churches must include links to online church services and other activities like prayer groups and bible classes.
10 Essential Components of a Great Church Website
Nonprofit websites all have similar attributes. Churches will have many of the same needs as any nonprofit, irrespective of their size. Hence, they should research what other churches have incorporated in their website and what nonprofit organizations in their community have included.
Here is a list of essential components to make the process easy for you –
1. Mission and vision
Adding a mission and vision to your church website may not feel important, but it can provide transparency for those interested in what your church believes. It may also build trust with church members and the community. A mission statement that lays out why your church was formed, and a detailed vision of where you hope to go is a way to stand out from other church websites.
2. Church calendar
Your leadership may be under the assumption that everyone knows when your services start, but many people in the community will not drive by your church. If the hours are not listed clearly on your website, they will not attend services.
Other events and programs for your church must also be shared on your church’s website. The way you do that is up to you. Some churches have a calendar app embedded on their website. Others provide links to each program with detailed information and their classes or service days and time.
If you are starting with a website, a list of your services and classes available should be enough. As you work out all the kinks and find what works best for your church, you may want to add additional widgets like event ticket purchasing or live chat.
Your church’s history is the story people want to know. It’s good practice to add a page dedicated to the history of your church – when it was created and what made it exist. This can be a part of your ‘About Us’ page. Or you can separately create one. Since people are often emotionally and spiritually connected to a church, having a good history page can boost your online presence. Remember to acknowledge your clergymen on this page.
4. Donation page
Passing around the offering plate is the traditional way of collecting tithes and offerings, but it has become more difficult to collect needed funds with fewer people carrying cash. A website allows churches to collect tithes and offerings online.
Instead of spending precious time during your service asking for money, churches can collect funds online at all times. Online giving platforms provide churches with affordable options and encourage different ways to give.
Here’s a great example of a simple church donation page for you –
5. Inspiring visuals
Images are the heart of every nonprofit website. The hero image you have on your homepage makes a lot of difference. You have to remember that people are busy and hence, they first check the homepage and decide their next course of action. If you have good images (real images of your church, prayer meets, etc.) on your website pages, people would spend more time on it and engage better.
6. Volunteer page
Most churches rely on volunteers for office work, Sunday school teaching, music, and even cleaning. The volunteer needs are varied, and the only way many have heard about these opportunities is by word of mouth.
That reliance on church members to spread the word is not as necessary with a website. Church websites should have a volunteer webpage that defines each volunteer role and details how people volunteer with your church. Church members and the public will appreciate how easy it is to find what they need.
7. Search engine optimization
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) may not be your primary concern. Still, with a website and the addition of keywords and internal and external website links, your organization will rank higher on Google and other search engines. This ranking can make it easier for new attendees to find your church.
8. Virtual church services page
The pandemic has shut down many churches and made worshiping together almost impossible. We are blessed that Covid happened during the internet age when social media and streaming services like YouTube and Facebook have made virtual church a possibility for all churches. You can add a link to your Youtube channel, Facebook page, or Podcast channel where you live stream or have uploaded your virtual church services.
9. Signup buttons
You have some events coming up, both online and offline. How do you ensure maximum participation? Your website event signup buttons can work wonders here. Remember to add some great calls to action on your homepage or ‘Events’ page to inspire a great number of signups on your website.
10. Social media integration
Social media has become an essential part of marketing church activities and raising money online. Churches that have a strong following on social media apps can also create groups for members to connect. Integrating social media links on your church website makes it easier for parishioners to find your church’s Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter page.
7 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Website Builder For Your Church Website
If you have not built a website for your church, there are several website builders to choose from. Companies like WordPress and Wix have gained notoriety, but other affordable choices may be better for your current budget. Here are some questions to consider asking while you choose an effective website builder.
1. Is it affordable?
Affordability is a primary concern for building a church website. Most website builders will give you a free option, but churches should spend some money to create a website that works best for your church. Costs can range from $3 to $300, with additional prices added for online donation processors, email marketing, and donor management systems. Many of these costs are worth the money when you factor in additional donations your church will collect online.
2. Who will host your website?
Another cost to consider is for hosting your website. Once you have created it with a website builder, you will need to find a web hosting service to host your site online. Companies like BlueHost and Siteground will charge you around $20 or $30 a month for basic hosting services, but there are free hosting options for churches that qualify for 501c3 status with the IRS.
3. Can you integrate it with your existing tools?
You might already be using a church management system or a donor management tool. If you can integrate your donor database with your website builder, email marketing and other communications become easier. If your fundraising tool can seamlessly work on your website, raising donations is not worrisome anymore. These are some serious considerations you must have while choosing a website builder.
4. Is it simple to use?
Even if you hire a professional to design your church website, you will need to make changes to keep it updated occasionally. When researching website builders, make sure they provide an easy way to update the website on your own. You do not want to have to pay the company every time a Sunday school teacher or event times change.
5. Is it customizable?
Customizing your website is another one of those things non-marketing professionals don’t consider. Companies like McDonald’s, Walmart, and Disney have well-known brands and spend millions of dollars keeping their brand the same on each marketing piece. Churches have brands too, and church websites should match that brand to avoid confusion. Website builders should provide your church with several design options and make it easy to customize your website’s colors, fonts, and images.
6. Does it help with SEO?
SEO actions to help your Google ranking can change quickly, so if you are not a marketing professional, you probably do not know every way to increase your SEO. Many website builders provide information on keywords, meta tags, and descriptions to help improve your SEO. Some even link your website to Google Analytics so you can monitor website visits and actions.
7. Is it mobile-friendly?
Most people will use their smartphones to visit your website to learn more or make a donation. It is essential that your website can be viewed on all mobile devices. Website builders should all be mobile-friendly, but it would be best to still ask and make sure.
6 Steps to Creating the Perfect Church Website
Creating your website is more than designing and creating content. To create the best website for your church, you will need to incorporate marketing strategies like understanding your audience, calls to action, and monitoring your response rates.
Here are 6 steps on how to build a perfect church website in 6 steps:
Corporations and nonprofit organizations must all understand their target market before creating a website. Churches are no different. Understanding your audience is essential to find the right design and content for your website. If you are a new church that mainly works with younger families, your website should include pictures of families and activities targeting young parents and children. If your church is more established with an older membership, you may want to provide more scripture and details on how to make donations online and by text.
2. Add call to action
Your website must include calls to action throughout to get the best responses. Your home page should include a button with a link to your online donation page and virtual church services page. You can also link to programs and your church’s calendar. When planning your website’s content, think of how you want website visitors to view your website and create calls to action directing them.
3. Add a Donation Page
People will not give to your church if you do not ask. They also will not give to your church if you make it difficult. Online donation pages must be simple and easy to use. Give donors different amount options along with descriptions of how their money will help. Donorbox gives churches the option to integrate donor forms with their current donation page or add a pop-up form. Calvary Family of Churches is a nonprofit church that does the same. Have a look at their embedded form on the donation page –
4. Tell your success stories
Your website shouldn’t just include a bunch of facts and Bible verses. To give it more of a personal touch and encourage action, you should add stories of how God’s message has touched members of your church. Include pictures and videos with stories of when they accepted God into their hearts. Let your church members be part of building your church website and sharing your message with the community.
5. Track response rate
Thanks to your website builder, you should be able to track how many visits you receive and how people are spending time on your website. You can even monitor how much time people spend on each web page and which pages they leave most often. These details can help explain what activities are most appreciated by your membership or what programs need more work. As you learn more about how your audience views your church website, you can make necessary updates to capture more visitors and online donations.
6. Optimize your website for mobile and desktop
Your website will be viewed by people using their computers and smartphones. You must create a website that is easy for both to use. Ensure your website is compatible with iOS and Android, and create responsive landing pages that do not take too long to load. You may be amazed at how quickly people click away from websites that take more than a few seconds to load. Brown Line Church‘s mobile and desktop-optimized website is an excellent example of what we’re talking here –
4 Great Examples of Church Websites
As websites become more common with churches, a few of them really stand out! Here are 4 church websites that impressed us.
1. Dwelling Place – Church in Seattle
Dwelling Place church has a simple design with eyecatching imagery and easy navigation. The moment you open their church website, it has your attention.
They have a great mission and vision page that talks about their beliefs, lists down the words of God, and clearly tells you why the church exists. That’s all you need to start with to instill faith in your community. They also tell their visitors the church’s story which is important for credibility. The content is crisp on every page, which helps not divert attention from the website.
If you want to check out the giving page, join their services through a calendar, or simply read their blog for some inspiration, this website has it all. All that without making it complicated and unresponsive. We’d highly recommend their website for you if you are just about to start building your church website. The design is basic but just about perfect for an effective website.
2. Cornerstone Community Church
Cornerstone Community Church has an excellent website. The videos are high-quality, and they have designed their site precisely the way they want you to work your way through it. New visitors are given the option to request prayer or learn more about the church right away.
Service times and links to their online service are the second thing you see when scrolling down the home page. Visiting this website is enjoyable because all programs are split by age or interest. You do not feel like you are missing anything while clicking on all areas that catch your eye.
The additions that really stick out on this website are the videos on their donation page that explain to viewers how to donate online or by text. This is a creative way to handle a donor base that may not understand the technology.
If you can get some high-quality videos created at your church, this website is the ideal example for you. The videos can be related to your church leaders, services, and programs. For a website with so many videos playing consistently, this website is really fast and responsive.
3. Macquarie Life Church
The Macquarie Life Church is another example of a beautiful design with straightforward content. This website includes a menu that is simple and uses real language. Your only choices at first are Who We Are, What’s On, and Church Life. From there, it splits into mission and biographies, programs, and events, but the menu remains easy to follow.
The church’s mission, vision, and what we believe pages provide excellent transparency and are well-designed. The church calendar includes many events but is easy to understand and use.
Like many others, this church has an online church that they highlight on the home page. Their online church has a separate page that gives viewers the option to stream and participate in a live chat or watch on YouTube. They also have their kids and youth services online.
We’d also like to highlight their giving page here. It has separate links to their different needs – tithing, missions, building fund, Macquarie care. Giving donors the option to donate as per their will can make any church more transparent than they are.
However, we’d have liked it more had the ‘Giving’ button been more apparent and easy to locate on the website. Donors might have a little difficulty finding it from the dropdown menu but once there, the rest is a breeze.
4. St Clement of Ohrid Eastern Orthodox Church
St Clement of Orchid Eastern Orthodox Church has a simple but swift design on its website. The carousel on the homepage gives you a glimpse into what they believe in. If you’re a church that has existed for many years and now looking to create or revamp your existing website, this one is the right example for you.
Their history page can be an inspiration to you if you’re wondering how to pen down the story of your church. It’s in-depth and also acknowledges the contribution of their clergymen over the years. Their easy navigation shows you how to reach them, find the calendars for their services and readings, and of course, know more about the church.
The website makes the church pretty transparent with detailed information on the church committee and board, clergy, photo gallery, a link to give, and more right on the homepage.
The donation page is easy to locate and navigate. Not only that – they have also mentioned why they need support from people now more than ever. For someone who deeply believes in the church’s mission, this website is simply irresistible.
Church websites have become a necessity for all churches, not just mega-churches. The pandemic has made a website with links to your virtual church service even more vital for church members. Websites provide transparency to the public and help promote trust in the church and its message.
As people become more comfortable with technology, online giving has grown in popularity. Online donation processors like Donorbox give churches an affordable option to raise more funds online. Learn more about features like donor management, online donation forms, and text-to-give campaigns on our website. Learn tips and tricks for online fundraising on our blog.
Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.