Over the past five years charities have moved away from communicating through their web site to prioritising social media. Large charities have done very well from this through viral fundraising and awareness raising campaigns. This has rubbed off on smaller charities who really want to emulate that success, but most have found it less fruitful. Partly because they don’t have the capacity to put the hours into it and partly because they don’t have the budgets to do paid advertising campaigns on Facebook or Twitter on social media. While doing this a lot of charities have spent less time developing their own independent web presence through their web site.
Here are some reasons why maintaining a web site is good for small charities:
- Low cost – if you use a content management system like WordPress or a website builder service. More expensive if you use a designer, but still worthwhile.
- Full Control – you can’t be banned or removed from your own web site. You can combine any type of content on your own web pages and say exactly what you want to say.
- Greater possibility of discovery – Facebook postings don’t get onto many users timelines unless you can get a lot of people sharing your material or you pay for it. The Web is more democratic. If you write good content, and do some very basic search engine optimisation people will find your web site and your organisation.
Because of the reduced exposure that Facebook page postings are getting then your web site is more vital in 2018 than it was in 2017.
Here are some basic guidelines for a good charity web site:
- Keep the front page simple – you need to have at least 300 words to help search engines work out what the page is about, but avoid too many links to sections within your site. Anything that has to be scrolled down for is less likely to be read or clicked on.
- Think of the visitor experience as a funnel – what are you trying to funnel them towards? Is it to make a donation, sign up for a newsletter or make a booking? If you have a clear goal like this then don’t present the option to leave the process while you are funnelling them through it.
- Make it easy for people to contact you – this means having obvious contact details on your web site and backing that up with regularly responding to incoming emails.
- Consider integrating with other useful tools – like Mailchimp for mailing lists and Eventbrite for event and conference bookings
I built one of the first Scottish charity web sites in 1998 and have run web sites for companies and charities.. If you are a Scottish charity and would like advice on charity web sites or communication then please contact me.