• Tech

Squarespace for Nonprofits: 5 Questions to Ask

Last time, we compared and contrasted two of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world, WordPress and Squarespace. Today, we’ll be diving a little deeper into Squarespace and what about it makes it so very popular.


Squarespace mockup

What You Need to Know

Squarespace has grown increasingly popular in the last few years, thanks in no small part to how it makes the entire process of building and running a website easy as pie, and also to its sponsorship of pretty much every major podcast. Don’t be deceived though; Squarespace isn’t just a CMS – it’s a complete site-building platform that has everything you need to create a website included.

Every site built on the platform is hosted by Squarespace, which is a huge help for organizations that don’t have the infrastructure or staff in place to handle hosting themselves. Squarespace also manages content distribution for you, meaning that if your organization is based in Detroit, someone visiting your site in Mumbai won’t experience any slowdowns. Every Squarespace site is SEO friendly, is automatically scaled for mobile, features built-in image optimization, and every time a user adds or edits content, it gets backed up on a standby server so you never have to worry about losing anything. For any organization that’s short on technical know-how, Squarespace does its best to make everything about building and running a website a no-brainer.

Unlike some other CMSs, Squarespace isn’t downloadable software. Instead, it’s a web-based software-as-a-service. This means that if you choose to build your website on the platform, everything will be done through a web browser. All the tools and content are hosted centrally by Squarespace and, instead of buying or downloading the program, you pay a monthly subscription fee to use it. Every site is built on one of over 40 templates. To help users get started, squarespace.com links to a variety of example websites. Users then find one that inspires them, and then they can get started with customizing their new site. Squarespace features a simple drag-and-drop interface that makes it easy for users to add content and tweak their site’s visuals.

That’s a pretty general overview of the platform, but is Squarespace right for everyone?

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5 Questions to see if Squarespace is Right for your Nonprofit:

  1. What do we want our website to do? 

    For many organizations, a website serves as little more than a digital brochure. It has the mission statement, a few snazzy headshots of the team, contact info, and maybe a blog, all of which can easily be accomplished through Squarespace. Other nonprofits, though, might want higher-end functionality on their website, like a resource directory or custom user database. If that’s the case, a higher-octane CMS like WordPress would likely be an easier choice. As mentioned before, Squarespace’s angle is to make everything about sitebuilding hassle-free, but the simplicity it offers means you have to build your site within Squarespace’s framework.

  2. What’s our budget? 

    Every nonprofit’s website needs are different, and there’s no hard and fast rule for what budget suits a Squarespace build over something else, but some Squarespace sites require little customization which means they can be built very quickly and cheaply. If your nonprofit has a strictly limited budget for your website, you may have better luck hiring a developer who can build a Squarespace site as opposed to working with a bulkier CMS which would require a lot more tailoring and tinkering.

  3. How much content do we have? 

    Generally speaking, Squarespace is ideal for websites with a small amount of content (around 15 pages or fewer). Squarespace doesn’t have a limit for how many pages a website can have, but once you reach a certain number it gets to the point where the site would be easier to manage through a CMS designed to integrate large amounts of content, such as WordPress or Drupal.

  4. What resources do we have to manage our site? 

    Does your nonprofit have its own web servers? What about a full-time website coordinator? If things like that are a little beyond your organization’s reach, then don’t worry. Squarespace is a great choice for nonprofits that are just getting started or don’t have the infrastructure in place to host or maintain a website in-house.

  5. What’s our timeline?

    Squarespace can be a good choice of CMS for organizations who need a website under short development schedule or tight budget. It’s ideal for small organizations whose sites don’t have much content, or ones that only need a simple, no-frills site and don’t want any hassle during the development process. It’s also perfect if your nonprofit is hosting a one-time event or a short term campaign and needs a standalone website built for it quickly and cheaply.

Keep in mind, these questions are simply to help you think about your organization’s needs and what you expect your website to accomplish. Squarespace is a seriously powerful platform, so don’t let any of these questions deter you, but it’s important to do your research.

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Learn More!

All in all, this is a fantastic tool for building beautiful websites. The simplicity and quality that it offers makes it an affordable and appealing option for nonprofits in need of a new or redesigned website. It may not be for everyone, but it’s bound to suit the needs of many.

If you’re interested in what Squarespace could do for your nonprofit, we encourage you to check out a few of their example sites and get an idea of what might work for your organization. Keep an eye out for the next blog post in this series, where we’ll dive deeper into another CMS: WordPress.