Is It Ok to Copy From Another Nonprofit's Website?

  • by Shala Graham
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This is a question that comes up from time to time, or one that seems to be implied in certain meetings. Usually, it's because one nonprofit executive tells us again and again how much they "like" or "really admire" the work they have seen on another nonprofit’s website. In rarer cases, they have just gone ahead and borrowed what they like directly into their new site.

And so, the question is this: Is it okay to copy from another nonprofit’s website? There are three important answers to that question:

First, you can't ever copy text, images, or code from someone else.

There is the obvious problem that doing so is illegal and can create copyright problems for your nonprofit, of course. Even if that weren't the case, however, copying from a competitor would be a bad idea. The way that modern search engines, and especially Google, work means that the duplicated content can actually hurt your website, even if you have permission to use it.

Second, you can take fundraising ideas, inspirations, and ideas from other layouts.

You can bet that the first time a caveman drew an animal on a rock somewhere, it only took a few minutes for someone to start imitating them. In the nonprofit web design world, we know that inspiration can come from anywhere, and there isn't anything wrong with using the elements of someone else's design as a starting point, so long as you don't blatantly copy them.

And finally, the right design team can help you find the way forward.

We've seen enough nonprofit web designs – good and bad – to help you take the ideas you have (regardless of where they came from) and turn them into a winning web design and online fundraising plan. In other words, when you have the right team on your side, they can help you sort through all of these creative concepts and figure out what makes sense for your organization.

Want to build a nonprofit website that others will wish they could copy? Talk to us today about a free consultation.