A stable noble-metal-free hydrogen evolution photocatalyst based on graphite carbon nitride (g-C3N4) was developed by a molecular-level design strategy. Surface functionalization was successfully conducted to introduce a single nickel active site onto the surface of the semiconducting g-C3N4. This catalyst family (with less than 0.1 wt% of Ni) has been found to produce hydrogen with a rate near to the value obtained by using 3 wt% platinum as co-catalyst. This new catalyst also exhibits very good stability under hydrogen evolution conditions, without any evidence of deactivation after 24h. © 2015 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim.