• Toby Sinclair

DIY Guide to build a free charity website

As a Charity you want to maximise your impact which often means increasing your donor or volunteer base. Online is now a great way to reach a global audience. However many charities I talk with are uncertain how to “Go Online”. Even for those that do manage to build their website often they miss vital steps which limits their success.

A charity I helped recently was a good example. They had built their own website but it was difficult to use, was not ranked highly in google and you were unable to make donations.

This guide outlines the steps and resources I used to build a new website (https://www.newmindministries.com/) and market it to potential donors.

You do not need deep knowledge in website development. You just need to know the pieces of the puzzle and how they fit together.

Once you complete the steps in this guide you will have:

  1. …a website that appears in google

  2. …that can take donations via PayPal

  3. …integrates with social media

  4. …and gives you data on how well your website is performing

1 – Setup Accounts

Initially you will need to setup various accounts and profiles to support later steps in this guide. I have also included the time taken to complete these setup steps. For several of them you will need to wait for approvals.

  1. Choose a hosting provider and domain name (I recommend wix.com) (instant)

  2. Register for PayPal Giving Fund (2-4 weeks)

  3. Register for Facebook Charitable Giving Tools (2-4 weeks)

  4. Create an charity email address e.g. info@mycharity.com (1-2 weeks)

  5. Sign Up for Charitable discount on many tools via Charity Digital (1 week)

  6. Create Social Media Accounts (For example a Facebook Charity Page) (Instant)

  7. Create a social media scheduling account on services such as Lightful.com (Instant)

  8. Create a free premium account on Canva to create creative designs (1 week)

2 – Design & Build

You will not need any special technical skills at this stage if you use a website builder such as wix.com

  1. Use a website builder and select your template

  2. Design your logo using Canva (Free Premium Account for Charities)

  3. Decide on the core pages of your site (Home, About, Projects)

  4. Decide on the Call to Action for each page (For example: Donate Now)

  5. Create content for each page. Make it relevant, engaging and SEO friendly

  6. Ensure your site is GDPR compliant (Privacy Pages and Opt-In)

  7. Create PayPal Buttons for donations

  8. Add PayPal Buttons to your site

3 – Configure SEO, Social Media & Monitoring

You will want to ensure people visit your new site via Google and Social Media. In addition, you will want monitoring so you can see who is visiting and their behaviour.

  1. Setup Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) across the site

  2. Add Social Media share icons to the website for easy sharing

  3. Add Social Media Meta Descriptions to be used when visitors share

  4. Configure Google Analytics

  5. Configure Google Search Console

  6. Configure Google Tag Manager

  7. Setup Tags for key events across your website. In particular call to action buttons such as Donate

  8. Integrate Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics

4 – Testing

Obvious step prior to launch is to make sure all aspects of the site is working correctly. Importantly on mobile which is likely your main avenue for traffic.

  1. Ensure all core functionality works, especially any payment integrations and subscriber/contact options

  2. Test across multiple devices for formatting and visual issues

  3. Checking Spelling

  4. Identify any non-essential content that can be removed

  5. Ask a small group of people to test drive the website

  6. Check your website load speed

  7. Run an SEO Audit

  8. Test your Google Tags are working

5 – Marketing & Launch

  1. Schedule Social Media Posts (Using Lightful.com)

  2. Create an Email Marketing Campaign Advertising the new site

  3. Monitor traffic and behaviour using Google Analytics

  4. Build Backlinks to your site (sites that link to yours)

Future….

At this point most traffic will be directly via the link or through social media. It can take up to 4 months for your website to be indexed fully on Google. Even then it’s likely you’ll be lower down the list. It’s vital one your basic site is up and running you do the following:

  1. Continue to add rich, engaging content that draws people in. Consider a blog or other ways to regularly build content. Also think laterally about content that may draw people in which is connected to your charity but not directly asking for donations.

  2. Build a social media presence through two-way engagement. Don’t just spam people with a one way message.

  3. Find trusted people with high quality websites who will link to your website (backlinks)

Hope this guide has helped you build and market a website for your charity.

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©2020 by Toby Sinclair.