How To Design And Create A Charity Website - Free Web Design Template, Free Hosting & Grant Funding

A free simple, practical guide on how to design and create a charity web site - a template and links to sources of free website hosting and grant funding. If you're getting someone to create your website for you, it will enable you to create a design specification for your web developer to ensure your new website works the way you want it to.

Charity Web Design - What's The Purpose Of You Website?

The first thing you must be clear about in creating and designing a charity website is what is it for?  Specifically, what do you want your visitors to do and, based on that, who are they, what will you say that engages them and how will you encourage them to visit your website.  Trying to engage everyone about everything won't work, so be clear on your key objectives. Here are some examples: 

Purpose.  Encouraging people to: 

  • Donate.
  • Engage with your cause.
  • Volunteer.
  • Use your services.
  • Learn about a subject that will help them.
  • Contact you about any of the above. 

Audience.

  • Existing staff, volunteers and/or beneficiaries.
  • Potential new ones.
  • Potential funders.
  • Potential supporters/influencers, such as politicians. 

Engaging Visitors.  Provide them with content that will be of interest to them and using language/terminology they would engage with.

Encouraging Visitors.  For the vast majority of charities, visitor numbers via internet searches will probably be very low.  

  • If you're a registered charity, with national reach and a cause that appeals to the public, the Google Ads non-profit grant of £90k pa is a gift.
  • If not, use social media to drive visitors to content on your site that they will want.  If your following is low, join suitable social media groups and use those.
  • When talking to people on an issue, make them aware of the additional, useful information on your site, so that they will want to visit it.
  • Include your website in relevant materials, such as social media pages, e mail footers, posters and presentations.   

Charity Website Design - How Good Are Charity Websites Generally?

The Charity Excellence Sector Data Store tracks every aspect of sector performance, including websites.  Five of the six metrics are at amber.  That is the majority of charities report they are not doing these well.  Your website is your shop window and making it work well needn’t be expensive nor difficult and even small changes can have a big impact.  

The Charity Excellence Framework online toolkit enables you to improve your impact, income and performance in every area.  It's easy to use, quick, completely free and 46% of users rate it 10/10.  Find funders using the Funding Finder database and 50+ funder lists.  Health check your charity in half a day, access the huge resource base and achieve the Quality Mark.

To find the help and funding you want – Register Now

Web Development Tip - Maximise Website Visitors

  • Is your website mobile compatible and does it load quickly? 
    • Paste your website address into this free Google tool to find out and what you can do to improve that.
  • Is your site Search Engine Optimised (SEO)? 
    • Doing this really well, may require some technical expertise. 
    • However, the basic questions to ask your website manager are - do page titles, section titles and content include the search terms people use when looking for what your site provides? 

Web Development Tip - Engage Website Visitors & Encourage Them To Take Action

Once they arrive, make sure you engage them and encourage them to take the action you want them to.  Ensure your site:

  • Is simple to navigate.
  • The content is up-to-date;
  • It conveys your key messages in an easy to understand and engaging way;
  • With a clear, prominent call to action. 

Web Development Tip - Increase Online Donations

  • Does your fundraising messaging appeal to your target audience;
  • And demonstrate your impact.
  • Is the fundraising page/donate button prominent and;
  • Ideally, do you offer donors choice in what they are donating to/for?

And having got them all the way to your donation form, don't lose them because it's poor.  Check that your website donation form is mobile responsive, quick and simple to use, with a minimum number of fields in the form and, ideally, does not require donors to login or create an account.  Here are 10 easy fixes

Monitor & Manage Your Website Traffic

  • Use Google analytics to get the metrics you need to get the most from your website? 
  • Better still, using conversions, enables you to see not just who's visiting, but also what they are doing, which is much more valuable.  

Check out the Analytics Academy and become an analytics ninja in no time. 

Website Legal Compliance & Cyber Threats

There are a range of regulatory requirements and we are all at risk of cyber attack.   

  • MOT 1 - security patching and broken links.
  • MOT 2 - accessibility, compatibility, data protection and software updates.

Free Charity Website Hosting

  1. British Telecom - community web kit
  2. WordPress: blogs & websites
  3. White Fuse - website hosting platforms
  4. Kualo – website hosting

Grant Funding & Free Support

To find free support to help you and grant funding for your website, use this Charity Excellence resource

What To Do Now - Your Website Contract

You may not understand it all, but you'll have the questions you need to ask your web people. Speaking of which;

  • Is your website contract delivering what you need and;
  • Offering you value for money?  

How To Achieve Even More

Find funders using the Funding Finder database and 50+ funder lists.  Health check your charity in half a day, access the huge resource base, including 100s of organisations that provide free help and resources, and achieve the Quality Mark.  

To find the help and resources you need – Register Now.  Everything is completely free.

The questions are phrased brilliantly - challenging how we prioritise our management time." Ecosystems Knowledge Network

Register Now