A strong website is the need of a charitable organization to engage with its online community.
The website should be the heart of your content strategy and charity outreach program.
This is also where you convince your interests to take action so the importance of your cause should shine through in the website. Not to forget people should be able to find out how they can contribute towards it.
You can definitely consider WordPress for creating your charity website because of its content management (CMS) features, price, flexibility and support for new users. In this article we’ll guide you through the entire process of building a charity site on WordPress so put your learning cap on and let’s go!
First things first – why do you even need to invest in a strong website when there’s so much competition and you have limited funding?
Simply because you want to keep your organization up and running! Here are a few more reasons:
- As compared to offline efforts, engaging supporters, partners and donors through a strong website is quicker and easier.
- Updating and editing a website with latest news and other organization related matter doesn’t require much time.
- Through SEO and marketing, you can generate a lot of charity leads.
- It’s a platform for you to raise awareness through and show your presence.
- You can generate a great email list through blogging.
- You can attract high value donors and partners through the quality content on your website.
Many charity organizations either go for a very basic website or none at all thinking the process requires a lot of time, effort and money. But that’s not the case. Through WordPress you can create a great website quickly and easily without even spending too much money. Just have a strong message and clear content in place.
Let’s talk money
Although installing WordPress as CMS is ‘kind of’ free, you’ll have to pay for:
- Hosting costs
- A premium theme
- Web development support
- Content creation
The other alternate is to create your own logo for free or write your own content without training or expertise but would that really take you places?
What is the goal of your charity website?
The first thing to do is to understand what you are seeking to accomplish from your website. Put together your website goals so your website can be designed to serve a specific purpose. Hence each page of the website will be built and structured accordingly.
Some of the things a charity website can do for your organization are:
- Provide a place for everyone (employees, volunteers, regional organizations) to assemble and discuss progress.
- Collect donations through a smooth and quick process
- Sell products with donated proceeds
- Motivate new hires and volunteers to join your cause
- Spread awareness about your cause
Your website can be made for one or all of these goals – just have the purpose sorted out at the earliest stage.
What will be your website’s structure?
Once you know what your website goals are you can start planning out the architecture of your website i.e. the features and the pages it’ll have. Also keep a track of what content will be needed for each page. You can start off with a basic website and keep enhancing it as time progresses.
To help you out, here’s a list of features and pages you can think of including in your website:
- About us
- Where we support
- Who we support
- Why our cause matters
- History of our cause
- Future of or cause
- How to donate
- How to get involved
- Work for us
- Contact us
- Blog/Community news
- Terms & conditions
What will your website look like?
A well designed website will help communicate your message effectively and engage donors so work hard on this element. The following are the basic design elements needed for a charity website:
- Team pictures
- Hero images
- Blog post images
- Images for social media
- Photographs (team members, office space, events etc)
Why go for WordPress?
Out of the top content management systems out there, WordPress is a smart choice for your charity website because of the following advantages:
- The platform is 100% free (you just need hosting).
- There is a massive range of plugins available for it.
- It is extremely versatile and configurable.
- It is sufficiently secure.
- Development is inexpensive.
What will be your domain name?
The web address of your website is the web domain and is the seed of the URL that is entered or clicked to reach the website. Hence it needs to be thought through.
Ideally your domain should be short, easy to remember and should indicate what your business is about.
Choosing high quality website hosting
Once your domain name is secured, you’ll need to carefully choose some hosting for your WordPress site. A web host is responsible for making your website accessible to your visitors and a wrong choice could mean lots of errors, website going down or being very slow.
You can choose a host from a variety of great options out there on basis of your anticipated number of website visitors, the kind of media you’ll have and how important your website is to your cause.
Now that your site has been created, it’s time to move on to the design.
There is a wide range of charity-friendly website themes available on WordPress. You simply need to select the one you like, install it and activate it.
Selecting a great WordPress theme will save you time and effort and you can make some alterations to it to give your own unique style. You could experiment with the fonts, colors, layouts, images and icons etc.
The following tips will come in handy:
- Pay attention to the general layout elements of the theme i.e. the panel shapes, animations – it’ll help you narrow down the options.
- Check the popularity and versatility of the theme by the number of installs, reviews, a live website and case studies.
- Check if the support and theme developers are offering to keep up with the theme updates.
After finalizing the theme and making required changes, work on your images (should be high quality) and the content (preferably hire an expert to help you with it).
Consider installing plugins
Once your website is live and designed according to your preferences, look around for free or paid plugins to enhance the user experience. Plugins support your efforts, address technical issues, help with content or add new features to your website. Here are a few plugins you could consider adding to your site:
- Yoast SEO (for search engine visibility)
- WP Super Cache (for boosting speed)
- WooCommercem (for offering products)
- Give (for donation features)
- WooCommerce Donation (for charity store)
- Donation Content Locker (for content driven charity)
And there are many more great options out there. With the help of these plugins, you’ll have a great working and looking website without spending a fortune.
Also with so much website hacking going on daily, you need to make sure yours is as secure as possible by working on it in the earliest stages. Regularly update security patches and install security plugins.
Take special care of permissions, passwords and creating backup.
What is your website strategy?
By using your website as an essential tool, your charity can find support, funding and awareness for your cause. Since your website is an important part of the overall digital strategy of your charity you need to make sure:
- Your website presents a clear picture of your charity mission statement
- You spend a good amount of time on great web content
- Incorporate SEO
- Include regular blogging
- Have a comprehensive email strategy in place
- Give lots of donation payment options
- Incorporate social media to engage your community
- Build media relations through press pages
Keep up with website maintenance
When you’ve ticked all the checkboxes i.e. purpose of the website, good domain, appropriate hosting, charity theme, useful plugins and so on, don’t just stop there. Continue to improve your website.
Keep an eye on and incorporate changing trends, design standards and user preferences. A good way to keep improving your site is to take feedback from your volunteers, visitors, staff and donors.
The more heart and hard work you put into it, the more results you’ll see!
You’ve probably gotten some hang of the process but for more clarity, options and web support, contact us at 4M Designers so we can work together in your beautiful cause.