Guide for creating a successful charity website

Statistics tell us that a large number of charity organizations still do not have a digital strategy in place even though it’s proven that investing in digital campaigns increase fundraising. We hope you’re not one of them!

You need to show your presence in the digital world because that is where everyone you’re targeting can be found – and you cannot have success in digital without a successful website.

So what are the key elements that make up a successful charity website? Let’s explore them one by one.

Who are your users and what are their objectives?

While creating a website there should be a fine balance between what success is for you as well what success looks like for your visitors. You need to conduct user research so you can justify the strategy and design decisions you take as well as focus on the aspects that matter most to your users.

The difference between charity and other websites is that charity websites have a diverse group of users with different needs. Hence when you know your users and their goals, you’ll be able to put together a successful website.

Some of the ways by which you can understand your user and their expectations are:

  • Internal discussions – these combined with your own insights on sector trends, you can draft a good list of user groups.
  • External discussions – conduct focus groups of current or new visitors.
  • Data Insights – if you have an existing website, you can analyze the page views, demographics and other statistics about current users.

After this process, you’ll be able to create Personas which is a representation of your ideal customer based on research and data about existing customers.

Creating buyer personas is very important because it informs everything you do as a business but they should be evaluated and reviewed regularly. This will ensure that everyone at the non-profit organization understands the personas and aligns website projects against them.

How is the customer experience of the users?

Delivering a great customer experience (through an interface) is now a top strategic objective in the digital world and of highest importance to users too.

A good digital experience means a website clearly communicating its brand message, addressing the user’s needs and hitting the right spot emotionally. It encompasses multiple elements like the look and feel of the website (color scheme, patterns, and themes) to the content.

One way of enhancing user experience is by website mapping which enables you to be in the shoes of your supporters and see how they view your charity by understanding their emotions, needs and experiences.

What is your objective?

Websites are often built for multiple tasks but you need to prioritize what your website’s focus is on. This will prevent the audience from getting confused which happens if they receive too much information at one place.

The objectives of a charity organization can be used to set website goals for the company via SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) targets.

For example: To increase the number of inquiries received via email by 30% in six months.

When you understand what your website needs to specifically achieve, you can work on your website to improve performance. In the case of the example given, you can review the website structure and content to put the contact information at easily reachable places so more connections can be made.

How much is your budget?

A budget for a charity website can range from low to very high which is why it becomes a little difficult to set a budget for your website and finding someone that offers value for money.

Let’s take the example of a buying a new cell phone. With a low cost mobile you would still be able to perform basic functions as that of a high cost one but the experience would be entirely different. So you need to tell the shopkeeper in what range you wish to buy the mobile.

Similarly when you approach a web company you need to set a budget for your website along with telling them what your website will be for. In this way they’ll be able to offer you an accurate quote and what your website would entail. Moreover, this will allow you to prioritize the kind of functionality you’re looking for and make you understand ROI (return on investment).

What’s your current CMS like?

Analyze your website’s current content management system, note down its pros and cons and think about the specific features you require from a CMS. You’ll also need to decide how many people will access the systems and if different permission levels are required.

This early identification will help you keep on budget.

We’d recommend you to use a bespoke WordPress CMS because of its useful features like community, quicker development, easy management and integration and constantly improving interface and features.

Do you have a CRM system?

No matter the size, every organization needs a CRM (C, Relationship Management) system where organizations can manage their contacts and keep a track of their interactions. Here the ‘C’ can stand for customers, clients, contributors or other contacts.

However a CRM works on the data it receives so it’s necessary to integrate your website with your CRM. Here are a few advantages of using an integrated CRM system:

  • Automated reminders, confirmations and responses help in saving time.
  • Integrated configuration means users don’t have to move between different interfaces.
  • All data is stored at one place (contacts and interactions) and inquiries, donations etc are automatically recorded.
  • Your contact information always remains up to date in real time.
  • The process of communication becomes faster and simpler.
  • New staff can view history and interaction of old staff and can pick up from where they left off.
  • Easy to use because only one system has to be logged into to manage the website and CRM system.
  • By the help of automated procedures, no duplicate efforts, updated contact lists and matching reporting of two different systems, staff efficiency is increased.

What is the donation process?

With each passing year, more and more people are making online donations. The donation funnel can be of two kinds.

  1. The marketing funnel – a series of landing pages, emails and traffic sources by which you capture, nurture and convert interests of your users into partners. A user that has been rightly engaged is more likely to become a paid supporter of your cause because they understand why they’re donating and because they’ve developed a relationship with the brand.
  2. The website donation funnel – focus on improving this by emphasizing your call to action, keeping your message simple, focused and personal, optimizing your page loading speed, keeping the forms simple and making sure your website is mobile-friendly. Other tips including multiple payment methods to keep donation process smooth, keeping a realistic suggested ‘default’ donation amount and appreciating recurring donors.

And finally…..promote and promote!

The success of a website depends on its digital promotion so put your heart and soul in it. Here are a few free marketing tools you can use for your charity website promotion:

  • Free AdWords For Charities
  • YouTube Non-profit Programme
  • Hootsuite
  • Mailchimp
  • Workplace by Facebook

We wish to see your charity website running successfully and achieving the goals it was designed for. You can contact us if you want help in any or every aspect of your website development process – we’ll turn your visitors into supporters!