The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber's June 2021 Nonprofit Newsletter
The Nonprofit Committee brings you a newsletter once a month that focuses specifically on the issues confronting nonprofit organizations including an educational article and an article highlighting a Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber member nonprofit.
8 Best Practices for Nonprofit Websites

by Lynn Amos

Not far behind word-of-mouth referrals and email campaigns, websites rank high for growing members and revenue. A nonprofit’s website is the hub of your marketing efforts. This is where visitors come to learn about who you are, to:
  • Read about your mission and goals
  • Find out how to access your services
  • Find out how they can volunteer
  • Find out how to donate or become a member

You don’t need a million-dollar website design to attract and convert members. Instead, just focus on being clear and being authentic. Visitors come to your website from various places depending on your outreach efforts, but the goal is, when they arrive at your site, make it very easy for them to do what you want them to do.
1. Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS, or Content Management System is a platform on which a website is built. Choosing the proper CMS allows the site owner to make day-to-day changes to the site without having the expense of hiring a developer. WordPress is now the most-used CMS for nonprofits. Its functionality can be extended by using “plugins” to create a calendar, add e-commerce, or allow event registration to name a few.

Easy to use — If you can use Microsoft Word you can update your own WordPress website.

Free software — the database installation and program updates are all free.

Portability — Unlike SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix or GoDaddy’s Website Builder, WordPress websites can be moved from one host to another if necessary.

Extensive support —WordPress user forums provide valuable information. And there are many online video tutorials. WordPress designers often provide tutorials as a part of their development package.

2. Identify Your Audiences
As a nonprofit you will, undoubtedly, have multiple audiences:
  • Beneficiaries of your services
  • Donors
  • Volunteers
  • Partners of various types
Each will be looking for different information and people react to different clues – some prefer to read text and visually-oriented people will be drawn to photos. A good home page will provide various ways for each audience to reach their desired destination.

3. Clear Navigation
As with building a house, the first step to building a website is to have a blueprint. What are the top-level menu items? What are the drop-down pages? How do your defined audiences know where to go?
Techniques such as using a fixed header or footer are helpful, making the navigation visible no matter where the visitor is on the page. Slides and/or Boxes on the home page can click through to pages with more information. Buttons in bright colors create calls to action: Get News (sign up for their newsletter), Donate, Join/Renew, or Volunteer.

4. Tell Your Story
The story about a beneficiary who received your services will create an emotional connection with your website visitors. Pictures will amplify the message. And a well-produced video will do even more to make a human connection with potential donors or volunteers. Think through the story you want to tell, making sure it resonates with your mission and vision statements.

5. Render for Mobile
“Mobile-first indexing” by Google started July 1, 2019, (and is the default for all new websites) means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
For older, existing websites, Google continues to monitor and evaluate pages based on its own best practices. Make sure that content is the same on desktop and mobile versions.

6. Make Site Accessible
There has been a recent rash of lawsuits against organizations whose websites are not optimized for people with disabilities. The majority of those claims have been by visually impaired individuals using screen readers to access websites. Though ADA-compliance for websites is still not fully defined, it is evolving and there are steps that can be taken to mitigate any non-compliance of existing websites and protect against lawsuits. provides a free “widget” that will alter how your website displays so that people with disabilities will have more choices about how to look at your content.

7. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
There are a few basic best practices that will put your website on the Google map
  • Create a Google My Business page
  • Think about how potential beneficiaries, volunteers and donors might search for your sight and weave those phrases into your website page titles, subheads and text.
  • Make sure to use “alt” text when placing photos to describe what is in the photo (for Google and screen readers)
  • Since Google owns YouTube, placing videos on your site is helpful for SEO.

8. Website Security

Step one to making sure your website doesn’t get hacked is choosing a reputable hosting service that proactively monitors their servers for malware and unusual activity.

It is also possible to purchase a hosting package with a guarantee of free cleanup in the unlikely event that your site is hacked. Many disreputable companies will wait for a site to be hacked and then try to sell you expensive clean up and monitoring after the fact.

I recommend A2 Hosting, Bluehost, WP Engine or Flywheel. When shopping, ask for standard hosting features such as proactive scanning, a free SSL certificate, and good server speed. Also ask if their 24/7/365 support crew is based in the U.S.

Step two to ensuring the safety of your website is to make frequent backups. Backup your site to DropBox or Google Drive (off the main server) but also take advantage of any automatic backup services offered in your hosting package. I use UpdraftPlus for automatic backup of WordPress sites.

Step three: There are several security plugins that work with WordPress. Sucuri Security and WordFence are my recommendations. These plugins address the ways hackers might try to break into a WordPress site in particular.

Good planning, following these best practices and choosing a reputable developer who will be around to support you after the website is built are key to a worry-free, effective website.
Lynn Amos is Principal of Fyne Lyne Ventures, a Westchester-based website and graphic design studio. Read more about her services at:
Featured Organization:
Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber Foundation Inc.

by Lucille Geraci-Miranda, M.P.A.

The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce has a nonprofit affiliate. The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber Foundation was established in 2018 and is focused on strengthening the communities of the lower Hudson Valley Gateway region. This is done by providing programs and services promoting local tourism, developing, and promoting visitor information resource initiatives, supporting higher education through scholarship awards, and advancing sustainable workforce development. 

The Foundation supports the development of innovative, accessible resources to fuel the popularity of regional tourism, and thereby enhance the general prosperity of the region. It awards six scholarships each year to graduating seniors from each of the Chamber’s service area school districts. Proceeds from the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber Foundation Tommy Bertoline Scholarship Golf Outing seed these scholarships.  Currently, the Foundation provides two vocational scholarships; with a generous grant from Entergy, the HVG Foundation will be able to fund two additional vocational scholarships over the next three years.

The Foundation strives to advance workforce development. This includes recertification or recredentialing, technical training and medical orientation. This is much needed and is beneficial to both the businesses in our communities and the workforce.

“One of the greatest challenges for the Foundation, like so many other nonprofits during the pandemic, has been finding creative ways and productive means to help meet the fundraising needs of the Foundation,” said Foundation Chair, Jane Solnick. “With a Board of nine and a part time staff of three, we all rolled up our sleeves and reworked some of our plans.”
Foundation Chair, Jane Solnick
When we asked Chamber President, Deb Milone what new way of working have you implemented recently that has helped you be more efficient, she said, “when the pandemic hit, we had to work from home as we weren’t deemed essential staff. We had an obligation of delivering the most current information to our members and to the community. We had to quickly “pivot” as everyone else did and implement a plan to get the news out and consider alternative plans for our events. Our Tommy Bertoline Scholarship Golf Outing – which funds our scholarships – had to be reworked. We came up with a plan for a successful event by providing golf and dining vouchers to golfers so they could golf and dine at their leisure. We even held a virtual silent auction in December – holiday time!”

When asked if she had any advice for other nonprofits based on her experience, Milone said, “Learn how to pivot and be flexible. During the pandemic we certainly learned how to pivot and how to be flexible.  We are proud of our accomplishments despite the challenges of the pandemic. We can’t wait to move forward.”
Chamber President, Deb Milone

To Donate the the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber Foundation Inc.
Please send a check:
Attn: Deb Milone
Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce
1 S Division St.
Peekskill, NY 10566
Please label your donation clearly that it is meant for the Foundation.
Lucille Geraci-Miranda, M.P.A. serves on the Board of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber Foundation, chairs the Chamber’s Nonprofit Committee and is President and Founder of Geranda Projects – Management Consulting for Nonprofits. Read more about her services at:
To request an article about a
specific topic, please contact
Lucille Geraci-Miranda at
To request that your nonprofit be featured in this newsletter, please contact Lynn Amos at
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The Chamber’s Nonprofit Committee provides meaningful opportunities for nonprofit staff, managers and board members to come together to collaborate, and embrace the importance of growth and sustainability. The Committee serves as a resource for ongoing professional development and as a forum for sharing best practices.

Committee Chairperson
Lucille Geraci-Miranda
Geranda Projects

Committee Members
Lynn Amos, Fyne Lyne Ventures
Ivy Fairchild, Landmark Consultants
Mary Foster, HVH2O and The Field Library
Chereese Jervis-Hill, Events To Remember
Tim Warn, Civic Member
Justin Wingenroth, The Dance Conservatory