Congrats on your internship — if this nonprofit it like most I've worked with, they will a) really need and b) be very grateful for your help! I'm in transit so forgive the iPhone typos, but here are a few key takeaways when building a website and revamping social from my days as a nonprofit communications exec that may or may not be useful. This comes in two posts because well, it just does.
1) Prior to building or revamping anything, audit your current practices (competitors too) and understand what's working and what's not through an environmental scan and determine what your GOALS AND OBJECTIVES are and make them... wait for it... MEASURABLE. (Most skip this step and then regret it later as you'd expect.) You're on track to start with asking things like what Chris suggested above — what content is performing well, why, who's your target demo, what mediums (mobile/desktop) and format are people engaging with most (long-form, GIFS, etc),what's the nonprofit's main objective (find donors? disseminate resources?etc.). After you know what's working, and what's not, then you'll need to focus on #2 below:
2) Answer the SO WHAT question. Sure increased likes, social shares and website visits all seem positive, but you shouldn't be impressed with scattered data points and generically tellable increased visibility success stories — try to focus on instead on measurable results. Did the action deliver on your desired objectives? Can you measure its influence? What was its impact on bottom line? Most nonprofits are beholden to whomever funds them so ensuring your web and social build energy is spent delivering on mission and on performance metrics would be a solid idea.
3) Follow the 80/20 rule. Most content on social should be "pre-proven" to perform BEFORE you post it. You're not looking to throw hail mary's at your audience in hopes you connect with them like Aaron Rodgers did (once), so review your data, understand what performs and what doesn't and evaluate and trend-track it over time. You'll spend your resources (paid posts etc) more efficiently and effectively and that's all kinds of other "e" words, mainly EXCELLENT, for all parties involved.
4) Help ensure your colleagues at the nonprofit understand that all social media is not created equal. Connecting accounts (although seemingly a gold star good idea) isn't a best practice— except for when it comes to monitoring them and reviewing cross pollinated data sets. Moreover most audiences follow organizations on multiple mediums and look for different content on different channels. So, give their people what they want and you'll be the next Katie Ledecky, sort of.
5) Confirm you have a brand strategy and style guide. Sidebar: despite an old and incredibly popular ancient myth, a logo is not a brand and a brand is not a logo. Neither is a Wordpress template. Standards are important and audiences notice inconsistency. Life will be a helluva lot easier if you've got a brand bible or guiding document to use as a resource to make content and design decisions against. If you don't have this, I'd suggest you start here. Confirm who the nonprofit is, who they aren't and your website building life won't be cake-walk easy, but it will surely be better.
6) Know your audience - not the nonprofit's stakeholders, but the nonprofit you're working with specifically. How tech-savvy are they? Is there design expertise on staff? Is there a programmer? All these decisions determine if you code from scratch or use a template based program like squarespace ,as example. (Note- our firm uses squarespace for client sites and we've found it to be really user-friendly.) Most importantly, focus on sustainability. And no, I'm not talking about recycling programs. I'm talking about making sure that once your internship is over, that this site and any social media plans and programming you've put in place can live on without you. That the expertise has been built within the nonprofit. That the strategy you've designed can actually be implemented. Because strategy only works when it's used and not siting in a lonely inbox wait to be implemented. Because literally nothing except missing the express 6 train is worse than that.
7) Try to be realistic about what you can actually accomplish during your internship to make it valuable both to you and to the nonprofit. Having managed several internship programs and been an intern a billion years ago myself, I completely understand what it's like and that literally everyone is hoping to do two things: 1) connect and 2)contribute. But not just connect with anyone at the water cooler (do those still exist??) or contribute by filling papers into oblivion — no, no, at least from my experience, all my former intern students wanted to MEANINGFULLY impact something and grow their portfolio and their network. Make sure this happens for you and everyone's happy. Kind of like that Pharrell song. So, that.
Hope this was moderately helpful and best of luck with this exciting project! Let us know how it goes!
Matt - great to hear and glad you found it both helpful and not boring to read. Keep me posted on how things turn out! -Sarah