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How to Build a Charity Website For a Non-Profit Organization?

by Anna Klimenko
How to Build a Charity Website For a Non-Profit Organization?

We know how important it is for your charity organization to be recognized by as many people as possible to attract more donations for its good deeds in the community.

In spite of the popularity of fundraising through social media platforms, if your campaign is more than a one-time event, a full website is more functional and looks more trustworthy and reputable than a Facebook page.

All popular foundations like WWF, Unicef, Charity:water, Cancer Research UK and others, that focus on serious causes, have their own websites. They inform the public of their mission, announce upcoming fundraising events, collect donations, share outcomes of activities and communicate with volunteers, sponsors, and beneficiaries.

So, if you have an idea of how to change the world – then put it into action and make it even more effective with a website!

According to a recent survey, 47% of 5,352 NGOs in 164 countries consider charity websites one of the most effective tools (compared to social media, peer-to-peer fundraising platforms and other methods) in reaching out and connecting with a wide audience. Here is how people’s opinions differ in what they consider very effective and somewhat effective methods:

graph

Very effective Somewhat effective Not very effective Ineffective
Website 34% 47% 15% 4%
Social media 33% 45% 17% 5%
P2P fundraising 23% 33% 21% 23%

 

Besides these statistics which are only numbers, why should you bother to create a charity website, especially if you are in start-up mode?

Think about the major advantages that can be achieved with the help of a good website:

  • Increase in fundraising
  • Automation of inner processes and enhanced analytics
  • Secure storage of sensitive data

Let’s take a closer look what makes a good charity website!

How to Set Up a Charity Website to Increase Fundraising

Statistics say that, today, the majority of people prefer to donate via websites and mobile applications:

online

When you look at it this way, it is reasonable to take the following steps when creating websites for nonprofit organizations:

1. Make your mission clear

  • The goals of your organization should be clear the minute your website is opened:
    Introduce yourself, explain the importance of the mission and describe your personal involvement (like Michael J. Fox who created a foundation for Parkinson Research while suffering this disease).

MJ Fox

 

  • Show statistics and outcomes of your actions, in numbers, as on WWF website:

WWF

  • Share real stories of donors and beneficiaries (video, testimonials).
  • Make it easy for customers to connect by placing contact information on the website.

2. Make it easy to donate

As collecting money is the main goal, a call-to-action should be provided immediately when people open your website. If you don’t know how to set up a website for charity donations, try to use these tips:

a) Place donation buttons on every page and make them distinguishable. Donations should be done easily, in just a few clicks. You can also add predefined donation amounts to simplify the selection.

donation

b) Allow your audience to select from existing options. This can include:

  • Make a donation (for a single donation)
  • Give monthly (automatic monthly payments)
  • Create a fundraising campaign (let people participate in raising money for the common goal)
  • Become a sponsor (attract big investors)
  • Pledge a birthday (let donors ask their friends to donate instead of buying a present for a birthday)
  • Donate in tribute (allow donors to make a donation in memory or honor of somebody)
  • Donate goods (option for giving clothes, books and other items)

charity water

Image by Charity:Water

c) Integrate with partners’ services
Let people give money for good via partner services that they use often. These can be eCommerce platforms, games, mobile apps, etc. Integrating with them, you will be able to attract more new donors and increase your funds. For example, eBay for Charity allows sellers to automatically provide a percentage of the final price to your charity.

ebay

d) Provide as many payment methods as possible. The donors’ preferences fall into:

  • Credit cards (78%)
  • PayPal (50%)
  • Direct debit (42%)
  • Digital wallets (6%)

3. Praise your donors and remind them often

According to the 2018 Global NGO Technology Report, email is still the most powerful online fundraising tool. So,

  • Enable an automatic “Thank You!” email after each donation. Expressing your gratefulness to the donors immediately makes your website’s conversion rate go up.
  • Send newsletters and fundraising appeals to your donors.
  • Award badges, points, level-ups and other grades to user profiles for activities.

In one of the charity projects that we developed, Unite4Good, users earned “crystals” and level upgrades for their activities:

U4G

4. Create an Event Calendar

Make it easy for your visitors to find upcoming events and register from the website. Features may include:

  • Registration
  • Ticketing
  • Email invitations
  • Sending notifications
  • Event management
  • Event scheduling

All this can be controlled from the backend with an Event Management software.

5. Integrate with social media

Social Media is one of the best methods for promoting your events and attracting your target audience. 75% of donors get news about their favorite organizations from social media and 25% say that social media inspires them most often to donate.

Add social media buttons to your website to let your visitors instantly share information to Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter.

social media

6. Keep your blog updated

It is extremely important to show the audience what you do, share videos and photos from events, and showcase success stories and results of your campaigns. 38% of NGOs regularly publish an article on their website blog.

7. Add Artificial Intelligence

As people may come from different parts of the world and different time zones, make your service available 24/7 by adding a chatbot to your website that will be able to answer all routine questions and provide help with payments.

8. Provide Fundraising Opportunity

Give your donors an option to start a campaign of their own to contribute to the common goal. We can help you to create your own custom platform like one of our client’s websites, SmartGiving, that allows for fundraising quickly and effectively:

smartgiving

 

9. Add tax deduction options

Reward your donors with tax reliefs by adding special features to your website. For example, you can add an option to reclaim an additional 25% on account of the Gift Aid program available for UK taxpayers, or the equivalent based on your country’s legislation.

How to Rule This All from the Backend?

Your website is just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, you can be satisfied with just a landing page that will represent your organization and will be able to collect donations, but the more vital approach is to link your website to inner management and analytical systems on the backend.
How can you benefit from this?

1. Content management

If you have a blog, news or other information section, a CMS is an indispensable tool by means of which you and your Admins will be able to manage all content on the website.

CMS

2. Managing donor relationships

Today, 45% of NGOs use a CRM software to track donations and manage communications with donors and partners. A CRM provides you with valuable information like names, contacts, amount of donations, applications from volunteers and other user activity in your system.

3. Event Management

If you arrange different kinds of fundraising activities (conferences, marathons, camps, etc.), you need to have a software for dealing with event calendars and ticketing.

4. Accurate accounting

Any NPO should always be ready to provide proof of their activities on each penny spent. Being open and transparent with your donors will pay back and strengthen your reputation and the future of the organization. The best way to do your accounting is to automate it with special software that will calculate your finances, including donations from different sources, taxes, and all expenditures.

5. Analyzing your efforts

 

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” – Peter Drucker, management guru

Analyze your success using automatic reports of user activities, accounting, and other statistics. Without measuring the success of your actions, how can you understand which way to go next?
Google Analytics and similar tools usually used on websites may be too general and bloated with unnecessary information. That’s why you may want to have a custom dashboard to monitor your organization KPI. The key drivers that will be specific to each organization include:

  • Donations – the main value of measurement for any charity. Here you can track the total number of donations, average donation value and where donors come from.
  • Donor Retention Rate – number of recurring donors by the total number of donors.
  • Event Ticketing – how many are sold or reserved.
  • Enrolment Number – the number of people registered for any program.
  • Cost per Individual – for example, if you are a medical institution that provides treatment of individuals for free.
  • Fundraising ROI – shows how much money you raise from each dollar you spend.
  • Gifts Received – how many gifts your NPO received during a certain period of time.

Here is an example of a dashboard for one of our projects:

Dashboard

 

How to Make a Charity Website Secure

One of the important aspects that you should consider if you are going to store sensitive data like organization info, donors profiles, and payment data on your servers is providing a high level of security.

You may think it ridiculous that someone would hack your small charity website aimed to help abandoned animals to find a home. Unfortunately, the matter is not in the size or purpose of your website. No website, even giants such as Twitter or Facebook who have the highest possible security systems, is 100% safe from someone who intends to hack it. Here are the data breach statistics from 2017:

stat

 

While security breaches only affect less than 2% of the NPO industry, you should still be aware of the risk for potential threats, and protect your business and your donors. Unfortunately, free or partially free services for website building provided by WordPress, Drupal, Wix, Weebly and other off-the-shelf solutions are not reliable enough. You increase the chance of being “compromised” if you create a website on an open source platform that is “home” to millions of websites worldwide.

Such services attract the attention of hackers, as they allow everybody access to the open source code. While most community members use this to find weaknesses and suggest solutions, “bad guys” can use it to create malicious software and attack servers. Thus, your charity can be in danger of being hacked “in bulk” with many other websites on the same platform. In this case, only timely security updates of your WP (or another platform) website, especially if there are a lot of plugins installed, can help.

Another option is to create a custom solution from scratch. Your team of developers can take care of the encryption of sensitive data, security of all transactions and storing data on the dedicated servers only they have access to (from certain IP addresses only). At Greenice, we pay maximum attention to security using best practices like tokenization and encryption. In particular, we cooperate with certified tokenization providers who comply with the strictest security standards. Thus, even if the database is stolen, hackers will not be able to decrypt it and do any harm.

How to Apply This to Your Business

Today, there are a lot of off-the-shelf solutions that you may use to make your own charity website. So, how to create a charity website?

You may try to create it by yourself with one of the website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Weebly using ready-made themes and templates, or open-source content management systems like Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla. In both cases, you’ll need to remember data security and customization limitations.

If you need to make a charity website with one-of-a-kind features that integrates with backend systems for better analytics and guarantees the safety of information, the best choice is to develop a website from scratch hiring professional developers.

A custom website allows you to take full control of any aspect of the system, staying flexible, scalable and protected. At Greenice, we have vast experience in creating websites and web applications, including for non-profit organization projects, and developing complex functionalities for them.

In particular, we have developed a social network for a charity that stimulates fundraising with “good deeds” and spreading the word. The platform is fueled by gamification features to encourage active participation among the youth.

Another example is a platform that allows for collecting donations, creating fundraising campaigns, and getting tax deductions. For this project, we also needed to fulfill an accurate data migration from an old project CRM to a new one and organize further data synchronization between them.

Hopefully, this article provided you with food for thought and a plan for your requirements.

Get cost estimate for your charity website.

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