Five steps to building a website for your charity
Building a website for your charity may seem like a daunting task and you may not have a large budget available to employ a professional web designer.
Yet with around 10% of all fundraising now taking place online, it represents a huge opportunity that most charities cannot afford to ignore.
Luckily, there are numerous solutions available for novices, as well as those experienced in web design, that can create a professional website for your charity in very little time.
Here are five steps to building a website for your charity.
1. Set goals
Before creating your website it is important to consider exactly what you want to achieve from having a website and who you want to target. Consider the following:
What will you use the website for?
Do you want to post news, receive donations, promote events, or do all three? This gives focus to the project.
How much do you want to spend creating it?
Do you want to use a free service to keep costs down, or have a custom built site tailored to your charity's requirements?
Who will maintain it?
Most websites use content management systems (CMS) which allow you to make changes in the same way you would on a word processing programme by logging in on a hidden administrator's page. It makes sense to give one person overall responsibility for the website and other areas of online communication, such as social media.
2. Decide on a domain name
A domain is the address people will type to find your website (for example, www.markeluk.com). Assuming you already have a name for your charity, you should try to pick a domain name that is similar. Most charities use '.org' or '.org.uk' over '.com' or '.co.uk' as it is recognised as being for a charity or non-profit organisation as opposed to a commercial entity.
For maximum exposure, you should also buy '.com' and '.co.uk', if available. These tend to cost around £5-10 each per year and it will prevent confusion if someone accidentally types '.com' or '.co.uk' instead of '.org'.
If your ideal domain names are already taken, consider inserting a hypen in between words or adding 'charity' to the end of your charity's name.
3. Choose a platform/website builder
The platform you pick will depend entirely on what budget is available to you, but even if you have next to no funds available, you will be able to find a solution.
It is possible to build a website for free using a service such as BT Community Website Builder. This takes you through the steps of building a simple website, from choosing a template to adding new pages. Another popular option is Wordpress which allows you to create a blog in a matter of minutes.
The drawback with both of these options is that they are limited in terms of functionality and support. Also, they don't allow you to use your own domain out of the box; so you may have to pay a fee and make changes to domain settings, which could be difficult for those who have no technical experience.
Small budget (£5-£10 per month)
If you want greater control over the appearance of your website, consider a site builder such as WIX or 1and1 MyWebsite. As with the free solutions, you can choose from a range of templates and color schemes, but you get additional features such as the ability to create an email newsletter sign up, an interactive events calendar and even integrate with PayPal to accept donations online. These solutions tend to include a personalised domain name as part of their charges. These options also tend to include support agreements in the event your website went down or there was a major problem with it.
You may decide that none of these options are right for your charity and you want to dedicate more budget towards a website. In this case, consider employing the services of a website designer; ask fellow charities for recommendations and, once you've found a designer, ask for examples of their work.
4. Decide on a design
If you choose to build your website with a free or paid website builder, you will be prompted during set up to select a theme. Choose a colour scheme that is similar to your charity's logo, and a layout that is clean and easy to navigate. Think about who will be using your website; for example, if your charity works with visually impaired people, choose a theme that has large, clear and easy to read fonts.
Whether you are designing the site yourself or having it designed by someone else, you may want to display the following key elements:
- An 'about us' page, containing your mission statement and outlining the aims of your charity
- A 'news' page or blog with stories of people/projects your charity has helped, as well as write-ups and photographs of events
- An 'events' page listing upcoming events message about what you have achieved with sponsors' money
- A prominent 'donate' button that appears on every page, if you are able to accept donation via PayPal
- A 'how to volunteer' page detailing volunteering opportunities and ways people can get involved
- A 'contact us' page for visitors who want to get in touch
Once the above steps have been taken, your website will be ready to go live. Submit your website to Google and other search engines to help people find it, and create Facebook and Twitter pages to promote it.
Try to update your website regularly with useful content to keep visitors coming back and seeing what's new. Not only will this help build your charity's relationship with its supporters and service users, but it will also improve your search engine rankings for search terms.
Finally, ask for feedback from colleagues at your charity and any service users or donors you have particularly strong relationships with; it's likely that something will have been overlooked during the creation and this kind of dialogue can be invaluable for improving your website.
Please note: Markel do not endorse or recommend any one product and this information is intended as a guide only.
Need some help?
0800 640 6600
Mon - Fri 08:30 - 17:30
Free from mobile & landlineSupport