8 Tips to Design a Charity Website

A lot of charities rely on voluntary funding. This funding is carefully distributed and there are often more important things ahead of a generous budget for the website.

So how does a charity get the most out of its website? It needs to let users find out information about the charity, but the main objective of the site is to get people involved with the charity, usually resulting in the user donating money.

In this article, we look at 8 principles that you should follow when creating a charity website.

 

What makes a good charity website?

 

1. A mission

A quick tagline to sum up what the charity (or charitable event) is about.

Mission

 

2. How sponsors will be helping

Let your users know what you do with their money once they sponsor. They’ll want to know how they’re making a difference to someone’s life.

How we help

 

3. Photos of people the sponsors will be helping

Help users identify and visualize the people they’ll be helping.

Photos

 

4. Donate button

The donate button is most likely the most important asset of a charity website so it should be prominent and obvious. This is the ultimate end goal for users.

Donate button

 

5. Donations to date

If the website is for a specific charitable event, show how much the charity’s raised to date. Current sponsors get to see how useful they’ve been while possible sponsors can see that there are other people already helping and the campaign is active.

Donations

 

6. A funding goal

If applicable, share your goal. Having a target gives people something to aim for.

Goal

 

7. Keep in touch

Sponsors will want you to keep in touch as they now have a vested interested, so make sure they can. Let people sign up and send them an occasional newsletter about what the charity is up to. This will also be helpful when it comes to looking for future donations.

Newsletter

 

8. How can people help

Donating money is the obvious way people can help, but make it clear they can help in other ways. Suggest fundraising ideas and advise how users can help promote the website and charity via other social networking sites.

What can I do?

 

Showcase of excellent charity websites

 

The Worldwide Blogger Bake Off

The Worldwide Blogger Bakeoff

 

Action for Children

Action for Children

 

Save the Children

Save the Children

 

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bell & Melinda Gates Foundation

 

World Concern

World Concern

 

Fifty Thousand Shirts

50 Thousand Shirts

 

Cards from Africa

Cards from Africa

 

Change

Change

 

Stop Child Labour

Stop Child Labour

 

Sahayata

Sahayata

 

Miracles in Africa

Miracles in Africa

 

Take the Walk

Talk the Walk

 

Wiser

Wiser

 

Here’s Life Mission Africa

Here's Life Africa

 

Operation Warm

Operation Warm

 

Manna Food Bank

Manna Food Bank

 

Global Oneness Project

Global Oneness Project

 

Red Nose Day

Red Nose Day

 

Children’s Rights

Children's Rights

 

Sponsor Lee

Sponsor Lee

Written exclusively for WDD by Lee Munroe, a freelance web designer and blogger. You can find more of his writing at his blog or follow Lee on Twitter.

What do you feel makes up a good charity website and can you recommend any? Please share your comments below…


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  • http://CreamyCSS.com Creamy CSS

    Thanks for interesting post and rally useful tips.

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  • http://dougbarned.co.uk Doug Barned

    Great article! Very useful as it’s relevant to a project I have on the go.

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  • http://www.pushingbuttons.net Timothy

    Great list! Don’t know when, or if even, I will be designing a charity site. But I will keep this in mind. Thanks

  • http://www.chris-wallace Chris Wallace

    Lee, these are actually REALLY useful tips for organizations and charities. Very nice job.

    • Tamara Ibrahim

      am designing a charity site, all your tips were really useful thank you very much for your help.

  • http://www.peterunruh.de Peter Unruh

    I am currently designing a website for a christian charity-organization and your tips are very helpful. Thank you.

  • http://www.marchofdimes.com dan

    You hit the nail on the head! Great tips.

  • http://www.globalonenessproject.org shawn collins

    One idea that I want to add is that there are thousands of NGOs and socially conscious organizations globally (110,000 web-savvy orgs listed on wiserearth.com alone) and each organization approaches their missions / challenges in incredibly unique ways, so its important to spend a lot of time in the initial research phase collaborating with the client to find unique solutions to the problems they are trying to solve. I know that a lot of you are already conscious of this but its easy to rush through because the non profit will often want to jump straight into visual design because they are so enthusiastic and excited about just getting a presence in the digital world.

    Also, for readers like Timothy who have never really thought about participating in non profit creative work should “google” The Taproot Foundation. They are an organization that assembles teams of professionals who volunteer about 5 hours a week (from beginning to end of project) to create professional level work for clients that normally wouldn’t be able to afford these services. I’ve done a few projects with them during the past 7 years.

    Its also a fantastic way for professionals and students to network, collaborate and actually try out different team roles that you may not normally have access to in your day job.

    Cheers,

    Shawn
    Visual & Interaction Designer
    Global Oneness Projectg

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  • Dave_L

    Enjoyed your tips and great use of site examples. May be working on a charity site in the near future, will keep this post in my back pocket.

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  • http://www.fundraising.co.uk Howard Lake

    That’s a good summary of key elements to a charity website, and I like your focus on fundraising content and reporting back to donors about how their money makes a difference.

    I’m sure it would have been easy for you to extend the list beyond 8 tips, but if I had to add just one, I’d suggest either a link(s) to the charity’s presence(s) on some of the social media sites e.g. Flickr, or adding a function that lets supporters get involved in the site e.g. by commenting on a blog, uploading photos etc.

    In other words, charities need reminding that all the action will never happen entirely on their website: they need to engage with supporters where they like to be online.

  • http://www.entwerpen.nl Ent

    Good tips, I made a site for a charity recently and I took a tour amongst some of the sites listed here for best practices and inspiration.

    Something I had trouble with is that the charity wanted me to put large amounts of text on the site to explain in detail what they were doing. Texts that were also quite scientific.

    I managed to cut into pieces and forced them to summarize everything but still it is quite a lot of text to deal with for online purposes.

    • Katy

      I work for a charity. I’m in the organisation–not a designer. I have found that having a few sources ready with “less is more online” has helped. I also promised them that while FAQs and “about” bits will be written for scanning, parents’ stories will be in paragraph form. It’s a trade. I’ll give you some touchy-feely if you give me some bullets.

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  • http://xavia360.com/blog Zohaib

    This gonna help a lot because some times you are confused about these kind of websites like Charity. You really can’t understand what to put to fill the page.
    Great tips

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  • http://www.webdesigntipsonline.com Steve

    Great post on the key elements of a charity website.

    And some great examples about putting them into action.

    I have done some work on charity websites in the past and one of the hardest things I find is that they are often run by a committee and there are many different ideas about what the various people want on the website.

    I find one of the best things to do when working on a charity website (or any website) is to have one person to deal with in the organisation who you can liase with, rather than having “too many chiefs”.

  • http://www.blog.mookiedesign.com Cam

    GREAT insights. I am currently working on a non profit site design and was coming to a few of the same conclusions. But you added somethings i didnt even think of! good stuff.

  • http://www.hajjar.me mustafa hajjar

    ohhhh maannnnn,
    why i did not see this article before i started designing this website: http://www.syriandeafchildren.org
    Grrrrrrrr , it looks so poor now, i am going to redesign it again

    Thanks for this important information

  • http://www.themerrybird.com Kristine

    A potential logo client of mine that runs a 501c3 Foundation will find this information useful! Thank you for sharing!

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  • http://www.hamroawaaz.com Rahul

    This is quite impressive article on charity website design. This will be potentially useful for me. Bookmarked. Thanks.

  • http://alisonfoxall.com Alison

    this is hilarious… i mean it’s a great article i just thought it was so ironic that i just got a pro bono charity assignment and this article pops up! great timing!!

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com Walter

      Timing is everything! :)

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  • http://www.kirf.org Nasar

    Lee, thank you so much for this valuable information – this is excellent.

    KIRF, a UK based charity working in the earthquake region of Kashmir, is currently researching how to change it’s website, and this will help immensely.

    Apologies if this is a little presumptuous (or ‘cheeky’ as we Brits say!) …..

    Please give me a shout if any designer is able to take KIRF under their wings, as a voluntary/probono project, to turn the current poor website design into something similar to one of the excellent sites above – obviously incorporating some or all of Lee’s suggestions. The charity has already decided to use WordPress …..

    Thanks again Lee and WDD for a great post.

  • Jade

    Yeah nice im currently in the middle of designing a web site for Wildlife Rescuers.
    This is there current site http://www.wildliferescuers.org.au/ needless to say it needs improvment!
    I will post when i have finnished there new 1.

  • http://www.johngirvin.com John Girvin

    Good post and one that I will be referencing when building my own fundraising website.

    Might I suggest a further tip?

    When asked for donations, online or otherwise, I’m always lost as to the amount to give and it can put me off. A box with guidance on average or suggested donation (or even donation range) would be helpful and might lead to more donations.

  • http://www.kingjason.co.uk Jason King

    Some good advice here – although there’s more to nonprofit websites than just donations. Charities also need to provide information about their activities; many use the web for campaigning; and some run online advice services.

    I liked the gallery of screenshots from charities, it’s always good to see that they can achieve results as good as or better than the business world. On the other hand, here’s one of the very worst nonprofit websites: http://www.globalaigs.org/.

    Here’s another tip for nonprofit websites: apply immediately for a Google Grant – http://www.google.com/grants – to get a massive amount of free online adverts. It can work wonders in boosting website traffic and is only available to charities.

  • satish

    So pls help me i want to design helping website for childern and oldage people. give me tips and tricks for this project.

  • http://www.Webdesignquote.ca Web Design Quote

    I am currently working on a charity organization website design and your post is very much relevant to my project. I get lot of information from your post. i am happy to visit your site and see lots of good thing that helpful for me.

    keep it up and i am expecting i will see more useful information in your website.

  • Katy

    Extrmemely helpful, thank you. I’d love to see some subcategories. Charities that support children might have different needs from those who design for animal, eco, etc charities.

  • http://www.kingjason.co.uk/index.php/uk-charities-great-looking-web-design/ Jason King

    I just saw that Smashing Magazine has published an article about best practice for nonprofit websites with lots of good advice and screenshots of some great examples from charity websites.

    It’s at http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/05/14/non-profit-website-design-examples-and-best-practices/.

  • http://www.websitedesigncapetown.co.za web design cape town

    I am currently busy with a non-profit sight and you have given me some great tips and ideas.

    Thank you so much!

  • http://www.flort.net/modules.php?name=Video_Stream Arkadaslik Muhabbet

    Thank you for sharing!

  • http://lionheart.net/ tampa seo

    The post takes a look at what makes up a good charity website (who usually don’t have a large website budget) and showcases 20 good examples.

  • http://www.allwebservices.co.uk Professional Web Design

    This is fantastic i have just started my first charity website for one of our customers and will certainly keep coming back to read this while i am buiding the site.

    Thank you really helpful

  • http://twitter.com/ryce ryce

    Great Article !!! you should add the http://www.socialvibe.com WordPress Plugin for Charity !!

  • Mikey

    Thanks for taking the time to put together a great article. I was wondering if you came across some good sites focusing on web development for charities? Thanks!

  • http://www.terapad.com Free Website for Charity Groups

    Terapad recently launched new sets of website templates for charity groups to setup their online presence. Only few charity groups have good websites and we believe that the charity website designs available can give them what they need with a nice design too.

  • http://www.techartistic.com Web Site Developers New York

    Thanks for sharing this good info article and list.

  • venk

    thanks, really an excellent guide !!

  • http://www.aberconwywebsites.co.uk Free Charity websites in North wales UK

    Excellent article, well done. I’m looking at offering Charities in North Wales a free web design service as a way of generating links to my own site and this will certainly help. Thanks.

  • http://griffo.project-japan.net Peter

    Fantastic article!.

    I am forever grateful that Google sent me your way as i’m currently in the process of designing a website for a charity organisation that works with children in South Africa (http://www.ithembaprojects.org.za).

    As you can see their website could do with a little bit of sprucing up, and the Tip’s you’ve provided here will be invaluable to me, especially as i’m half way thru a wordpress template build :)

  • Tamara Ibrahim

    that is very interesting topic i really love it and all the tips i found them useful, am currently creating a charity site and all the ideas were helpful.

  • http://www.psprint.com/stickers-labels Ashely Adams : Sticker Printing

    The post was a delight to read. Even though I found the advice a bit naive, the list of charity websites was a feast for the eyes. These are some great examples of thought-provoking web design. The sites are very powerful, and they touch something deep within us that few other sites do. I think, their noble purposes elevate them to a whole new level.

  • http://www.yummygum.nl Leon

    This is an awesome post! A lot of really useful tips!

    We actually used some of your pointers to develop and design a website for one of our clients; BTI Foundation. This is an organisation that was found to support the Maasai communities of Kenya and Tanzania in realizing good education.

    http://www.btifoundation.com

  • http://www.dsi-int.org Penny Robertson

    Very useful ideas. Thanks we shall use these in our new web design for Down Syndrome International.

  • http://waimanwong.com Wai Man Wong

    I designed http://growingliberiaschildren.org which was launched last year. Though I did extensive research, this article would have come in handy—particularly tips 5 and 6. Good stuff.

  • http://webhostingtop.org web hosting

    I’m currently looking for a good design idea for a website that is related with these. I have seen many beautiful and professional works here!

  • Mark White

    WebDesignerDepot was suggested to our development team as a starting point for our re-design of a very popular Irish Charity website. Finding it enlightening and great links to other well-designed charity sites for inspration :) Watch this space for mid-2010 – thanks…

  • http://www.watersidemedia.com virginia beach web design

    i have a couple up and coming non-profit projects. this helps a lot…thank you for the post

  • http://www.altwebmedia.com Ajay

    Excellent Article on non-profit web site design.
    Not only website owners but it also does help the web design companies.

  • http://www.chotrul.com/design/non-commercial-dharma-websites.html Chotrul Web Design

    This is a useful and fascinating article on designing Charity websites. I’ve done quite a few in the past, and it was really interesting considering the points you made against some of my sites. There were a few things which I thought could be strengthened as a result. Many thanks for sharing this …

  • http://www.cottonrendle.com James Cotton

    This is a great post for people about to embark on or commission a charity website design project. I have been involved with http://www.camfed.org for a few years now and we recently relaunched their website. Good to know that it ticks all the boxes. (:

    One of the most important points in this post is number 6 – “have a fundraising goal”. After we implemented short target appeals for donors to contribute to, we experienced a 500% (no mistype) rise in online revenues in the first two months that this feature went live.

    Donors no longer want to donate into a charity pot to be spent on anything the organisation wants – donors want to understand the value of their donation to the recipient. Look at the Kiva model – short term goals, transparent fundraising progress, feedback from the recipient, viral marketing tools – this is a fantastic model to follow.

    A big transparency issue is thinking carefully about the way that a charity org uses images/footage of its recipients. Avoid using stock images, use images of the real people you are helping. But more crucially, tell those people how you will use their images. Camfed’s child protection policy builds in this approval from the moment a photographer takes an image.

    Maps are also important – potential donors want to understand the geographical context of the organisation’s mission. The more functionality you can build into maps, the better – use them for lead generation, donor acquisition and information.

  • http://vrayzone-nd1.blogspot.com Randy

    that’s great informations…..

  • http://www.globalclassifiedscentral.com/ Global Classifieds Ads

    All of these designs are really mind blowing. Thank you for sharing. This must be bookmark

  • http://noneasyet carmen

    you did a really good job here – thanks for the effort and inspiration! the fruits of your time and effort will multiply many times over.

  • Paul

    Great post. Do you know how many of these websites are drupal and who designed them? We are a UK based charity with a drupal website, but we need a good company to help us take it to the next level

  • http://www.twitter.com/sh0wn Shawn Collins

    Hello Paul,

    The latest version of our site (http://www.globalonenessproject.org) is built on Drupal. We designed it in-house and hired a couple contractors to do the HTML and Drupal development. I think it may be difficult to find a good agency that can deliver you all that you need at a non profit price so my advice would be to try and find a small team (maybe just a designer and developer) thats good at conceptual work and develops agilely.

  • http://www.fundraising.co.uk Howard Lake

    Good question re Drupal Paul. If you find out, do share here. That said, you can usually spot a Drupal site by looking in the HTML and noting all the links to CSS sheets and modules in the section at the top. That’s the way I usually use to check to see if a site is made with Drupal.

    If you get any good recommendations for UK Drupal companies/people, esp those with experience of the charity sector, do share. Thanks.

    • Paul

      I discoverd this http://www.backendinfo.com/ which you add on to firefox and it tells you the platfom (some of the time). It couldn’t detect anything for Save the children and NCH, but Comic Relief is drupal.

      • http://www.fundraising.co.uk Howard Lake

        Thanks Paul, will try that. Other charities that use Drupal include Oxfam GB, Amnesty UK, and Greenpeace International.

      • Paul

        It doesn’t work on every website, but I see it works on your one which I subscibe to. Which Drupal company do you use if you don’t mind me asking?

  • http://www.webdesigndevelopmentfirm.com/ Web Development Firm

    Great collection. Thank you.

  • http://www.designdunia.com Golak

    Very nice.Keep it up………..

  • http://www.charity-webdesign.co.uk Website Design for Charities

    This is one of my favourite blog posts, full stop. Great advice that I have and will use.

  • Paul

    There’s nothing worse than a web development firm with a awful website themselves.

  • http://www.friendsoffatimid.org Zopa

    Hi there,

    Your tips where useful and thank for everyone that shared their tips and websites. Here is http://www.friendsoffatimid.org a charity website I have been working on with a colleague. Any comments or suggestions are welcome .

  • http://martinlucas.co.uk Martin Lucas

    This post has been really helpful with a project I’m currently working on, initially the charity only wanted an update – but because of this post, and the examples and tips included – they decided their website needed to be redesigned completely as it really wasn’t working for them. Thank you!

  • http://www.baldheaddesign.com Ohio Website Designers

    My best friend is actually making a charity site and he’s looking for tips and design ideas in the internet. Good thing, I stumbled upon your blog while searching for inspiring designs. Thanks for sharing this informative post!

  • http://www.tidal-web.com Tidal Web

    We started our web design business by doing charity sites for the local SPCA. It is a win/win situation for both parties. You get to build up your portfolio and the charity gets a free website. You can also count the value of your services as a donation on your taxes.

  • http://martinlucas.co.uk Martin Lucas

    Here’s the website that resulted from many of the tips included on this post;

    http://www.thegambiapartnership.co.uk

    Thanks again!

  • http://www.serprisedesign.co.uk Kevin

    Some really useful tips there, great post =)

  • http://www.resalesindia.com srirama

    Thanks for good tips and providing examples.

  • http://www.rgdesign.co.uk Gareth Roberts

    Great tips and examples.

  • http://www.kingjason.co.uk Jason King

    I was recently commissioned to build a campaign website for Breast Cancer Care using WordPress. Its primary aim wasn’t to raise money (although obviously there’s a donation link!) but to solicit messages of support and understanding and increase understanding of this medical condition.

    More info at http://www.kingjason.co.uk/index.php/secondary-breast-cancer-campaign-website.

  • khadim khamas

    Dear sir/madam ,
    Thank you for your very useful tips for charity web design . This is a great service to lay designers like me . Thank you once again .I have decided to start Nurun -ala-Nur charity . purpose is to spread education-Nur, and make poverty a history and make our planet a paradise where people should help each other irrespective of colour,creed or country.
    Thank you once again .

  • http://www.tradersupplier.com make

    Thank you for your very useful tips for charity web design .

  • http://www.cremadvocates.com/ raleigh cremation

    awesome tips…thanks!