A charity website is really essential today for the community and not for profit groups. It a way for these community groups and social action groups to get their word out. Not only is a great way to raise awareness but it is also essential for fundraising.
It’s really difficult to say how much a charity web site will cost. This is because of the range of sizes of charities and community groups. It could be a multinational or an international charity which will have thousands and thousands of pages and interactive media. Or it could be your local community group which may need just five or six pages to explain what they do. Obviously saying an average cost for a charity website is going to be possible.
Main costs of a charity web site
But if we concentrate on a smaller local charity or community group, we can start to look at some of the figures and pricing involved. A small website with, for example, 6 pages of information, plus the legal pages and a blog facility, will probably cost about £500 pounds for a developer to put together. In addition, to this upfront cost, there is also hosting cost and domain name and other issues. But these are the smallest part of the cost of a website. You can get really good hosting for just £5.00 a month plus VAT. This brings the cost of running a website to well within the budget of most small charities and community groups.
Once you’ve covered the coast of a designer and hosting you also need some money for a training budget. If you have a website based on WordPress, then there is a lot of videos available on YouTube to show how to write a blog. It’s very easy and similar to using any word processing package. Writing blogs is a great way to keep your supporters up to date with what you are doing. So allow a little budget for training in how to write these blogs. For a small charity or community group to include all costs across a year, you need to be estimating a cost of between £600 and £1000. This estimate will cover the cost of designing, hosting and some training.
What should a charity website have?
When you first start your charity website or create your charity website, there should be some things that need to be included. The first thing you need to do is to decide on what your website aims to achieve. You also need to decide on what each page of your website needs to achieve.
What you want to the web page to achieve very much depends on how you write that web page. A page that needs to raise awareness will be very different, in style and structure, to a page that needs to raise money. A good charity website will be structured to allow a range of pages to meet the needs of the charity or community group. A design or structure of a charity site will feature, for example;
- A home page stating the major aims of the group and short sections introducing other pages of details
- A contact page which is essential for all charity and NGO websites. This will feature address, contact number and contact form. It could also feature other ways of contact such as Skype or social channels
- Privacy page which is a legal requirement in the UK and EU. This will cover how you share data, any cookie consent details and other things to do with data collected from visitors.
- About page can be a really useful page as it will describe the history and foundations of the community group or charity. It’s here that you start to build out the ethos and reason for being of the group.
- Donations page, even if you are using a website to raise awareness of a cause of inform people of an issue, what charity doesn’t need more income? Always have a donations page where people can give. This need not be an expensive situation. A simple Paypal button can take donations for you at a relatively low cost compared to banking and credit cards company fees.
Beyond these basic pages, there can be other pages such as volunteering, staff profile pages, project detail pages and many, many more.
What makes a good charity web site?
For me, what makes a good charity website is good content. Up to date content that’s informative always helps in fundraising online. It helps to keep people coming back to a website, and for a charity that needs public funding that is essential. It’s why every charity website I build always includes a blog feature.
It can be hard sometimes to write blogs. A big question is always how often should I write a blog for my charity? The answer to that is when you have something useful to say. If you have good news or a new project, then let people know. If you don’t have a lot to say then just do a weekly round-up of what your group has been doing.
Writing good content for a charity website should include good pictures of your group in action. It may also include short videos for people to watch. All these help to get a message across, raise awareness of what you do and may even help with raising funds.
WordPress is very simple for a novice to use. Writing content is no different from using a word processor such as MS Word. You do need to make small adaptions. Writing shorter sentences and shorter paragraphs makes things easier to read from a screen. Having good descriptive headers helps search engines to work out what the content of the page is about. Creating a charity blog is not difficult, just like the real world the hard work is thinking of the subject and putting thoughts into words.
Charity website donations
Having the option to take donations is essential for any good charity website. There are a number of plugins available for this with WordPress. Some allow one-off donations and others allow for a monthly giving option.
Keeping the main fundraising page on its own is important for this type of website. It needs to be built differently to a normal page as you need to lead people to a situation where they will donate to the cause. As a charity gets larger you will find that they may have many different donations pages on their web site. This will not be publicly viewable through the navigation of the site but designed for use in an advertising campaign or promotional campaign.
If you have a number of different projects you may want to have a different charity fundraising webpage set up for each. Each one targeted towards people who may be interested in supporting that particular project. These highly targetted donations pages perform much better than general fundraising pages.
Charity website design in the UK
If you are a small charity or community group in the UK looking for a website then get in touch to see how I might be able to help. My fees start at £500 for a basic web site. I don’t do hosting but highly recommend Ionos who charge as little as £5.00 per month hosting plus VAT. This also gives you a free domain name and also a free SSL (padlock) certificate.
I’ve recently done a number of these types of charity web sites. One is for a church group raising money for a performing arts centre. I’m part of the church group and over the last 3 years, we’ve taken well into 6 figures in online donations towards the project. This has been achieved through Facebook Ads and Google Adwords campaigns. Each campaigned had tightly targeted donations pages to get maximum return.
Finally, don’t forget a mailing list for your charity website
When you start your charity web site don’t forget to set up a mailing list. This can be done internally within your web site using your own email system. But this can cause problems. Your server might not be powerful enough and your hosting company may object to lots of emails being sent as your list grows. A good option which I like is Mailchimp. Get people to sign up for your list. It’s free for the first 1,000 people and you pay less than you pay boosting posts on Facebook. It is the most cost-effective and action effective way of keeping in touch with your supporters.
The reality is that social media is very poor at getting your message across unless you are willing to pay. Did you know that the average reach for a Facebook page post for a charity is just 8%? That means for every 100 people who follow you only 8 people will see your post in their timeline. If you want to increase that percentage then you have to pay. And Facebook boosted ads is not a cost-effective way of getting your post to your supporter when compared to email.