WordPress’ plugin ecosystem is one of the primary reasons for its massive success – if you can imagine it, chances are someone has built a plugin to do it. But with so many plugins out there, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. So we’ve put together this list of essential plugins that we believe every not-for-profit website should be using.


Whether it’s a simple contact form, membership registration or a comprehensive donation process, every not-for-profit website needs forms. While there are numerous free options out there, it’s hard to go past Gravity Forms as the most powerful and yet easy to use form plugin for WordPress.

Gravity Forms have thoroughly embraced the WordPress block editor, and their form builder will instantly feel familiar to anyone who has used the block editor. With 50+ official and countless third-party add-ons, Gravity Forms is almost as extendible as WordPress itself.

If you work with Spark, you get full access to Gravity Forms and all of their official add-ons through our Developer licence. Otherwise, Gravity Forms have recently introduced a specific “non-profit licence” for charities and other not-for-profit organisations which is definitely worth checking out.


Security should be at the top of every website administrator’s list of essentials, and not-for-profit sites are no exception. There are a number of worthy candidates out there, but the leader in our experience is Wordfence. With a comprehensive firewall, regular automatic malware scans and login protection (including MFA) Wordfence is an essential tool to keep your site safe. For additional protection, Wordfence offers a premium version with extra features and faster firewall rule updates however in our experience the free version does plenty for the vast majority of sites.


Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a huge topic and to do it really well you need to enlist the help of experts (like Spark). However you can easily cover many of the basics yourself by using a quality SEO plugin for your not-for-profit WordPress site.

As with every category we’re looking at there are numerous decent options available. For years we’ve been using Yoast SEO on all of our sites, and while we’ve tried out a number of alternatives we have yet to find a compelling replacement. Yoast covers all of the necessary global settings, as well as providing numerous tools to help you actively manage the SEO of your individual posts and pages. Like Wordfence, there is a premium version but we haven’t ever felt the need to recommend upgrading to any of our clients.


Analytics is slightly different to most of the others in this list, in that most sites choose to use external third-party systems (Google Analytics being the most well-known). However with recent privacy updates to web browsers, third-party analytics platforms can struggle to provide accurate data. And in most cases, not-for-profits don’t need any of the advanced features that systems like Google Analytics offer like event and conversion tracking.

As such, we’ve started recommending Koko Analytics, a WordPress plugin which offers simple in-site analytics to track how many visitors and page views your site gets. It provides enough information to give you an idea of how your site is performing, which pages are the most popular and where your traffic comes from, without the need for complicated and privacy-invading third-party analytics.


The performance of your site is vital on a number of levels – it has a direct impact on your SEO, and if your site is slow then your visitors will leave before ever engaging with your organisation online. While a good quality host is the biggest factor in your site performance (we recommend Conetix), there are various plugins available which will also help to optimise the performance of your site.

We’re going to cheat and recommend two different plugins here. The first is W3 Total Cache – this provides performance optimisation through various layers of caching (storing generated data for quick retrieval on subsequent requests). However be warned – there are a lot of options, so it can be a bit overwhelming and it’s possible to make your site slower if you make the wrong choice.

The second performance plugin we recommend is Smush. Smush is specifically focused on image optimisation – it will automatically reduce the file size of your images as you upload them, along with various other minor tweaks to improve the loading speed of your pages. As with several of the other plugins we’ve listed in this article they offer a premium version but the vast majority of sites have no need for the additional features.


Our final recommendation is for Redirection. This is a simple utility plugin to make it easy for you to redirect visitors to your site from one URL to another. This is essential if you ever change the URL of a page – both for visitors to your site (if they have bookmarked the old URL or follow an old link) and from an SEO perspective (with a redirect search engines will treat the new page as equivalent to the old one, allowing it to maintain its ranking).

What do you think? Are there any other plugins you think are essential for not-for-profits that we’ve missed? Have an alternative recommendation for one of the categories above? Let us know in the comments!

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