If you are looking to create a website for a charitable organisation, WordPress could hold the answer. There are many good reasons why you should be using WordPress for a charity website; we are going to take a look at those benefits.
Many other charities are using the power of WordPress to create their online presence. This isn't surprising as the platform is widely used to power a large number of websites for every topic imaginable.
This popularity provides several benefits and means that your path to creating a charity's website will be far more manageable. We are going to look at your options when it comes to using WordPress.
The purpose and goals of your charitable site should be established before starting the website project. Some planning will be required so that the site will work effectively for the charity. Some questions to ask yourself might be:
Once you can answer these questions and more, it will be easier to understand what functionality is required of your site. This will give you an idea of what sections are going to be needed to reach the goals of your charity.
WordPress is an open source software program which has been around since 2003. Open source means that it isn't controlled by any one person or business and is contributed to by a community of users and developers.
WordPress is free to use and is continually seeing improvements to make the platform better. This means that the WordPress platform is secure and reliable as long as everything is kept up-to-date.
You can use WordPress on almost any hosting plan provided by web hosts. Many web hosts offer plans which have the software already installed and ready to go. Most hosting services provide an easy way to install the platform if it isn't already set up.
You will need to purchase a domain name if you don't already have one, this can often be done through your web host.
You will then need to change the name servers to point towards your web hosting account. Once this has successfully been done, you can start to customise your site to make it fit your charity's identity.
The platform has a lot of options available to people who are looking at using WordPress for a charity website. WordPress is an extremely popular content management system (CMS), with an estimated 34% of all websites currently online using the platform.
Thanks to the popularity of this CMS, many developers are creating useful software programs for it. They are known as plugins and can be added to your WordPress installation to expand on the capabilities of the platform.
You can access new plugins from within the WordPress dashboard and install them from there. Just don't go too crazy installing plugins as having too many can potentially slow down your site.
The plugin system has great benefits, no matter what reason you are creating a site. It gives you the flexibility to create the website you need for your organisation to help and support the charitable cause.
The WordPress plugin database contains over 54,000 ways to enhance your website. If you need your WordPress site to do a particular thing the chances are that someone, perhaps many people, have tried to do that before and there are several plugins to perform that action.
There are several plugins which will be particularly useful to charity websites, let's take a look at a few:
Want to take donations on your website? 40% of UK charities currently don't accept donations online, and with the Give plugin, you can change this situation for your charity.
The Give plugin is designed to make setting up such a service as easy as possible. You can create donation forms, accept recurring gifts and allow people to claim Gift Aid. While the core of the plugin is free, you may want to pay to enable extra features to make it easier to set up and give donors more options.
Does your charity have merchandise to sell? If so, the popular WooCommerce plugin can help add a store to your charity's website. WooCommerce is another free plugin, though if you want to add features which will improve your customer's experience, there is a charge.
Would it be useful to have a place where volunteers can chat together? There are many forum options available, but bbPress is created by the same people that are working on WordPress itself. As you might imagine, this forum plugin integrates very well and is easy to set up and run.
The plugin is free but is relatively basic, so you may want to add extensions. The bbPress plugin has hundreds of its extensions to modify how it works to suit your needs.
Let visitors to your site know about events that you have coming up with Events Calendar. It makes it straightforward to show your future activities and integrates with Google Maps so that people can easily find their way to the venue.
While all WordPress sites are using the same underlying software platform, no two are going to be alike. The plugins create the flexibility to mould your website into the user experience you had envisaged. The themes, on the other hand, allow you to create a professional looking site with the minimum of effort.
There are many thousands of themes available to choose from allowing you to change the look of your site in seconds completely. Several thousand free themes can be found through WordPress as well as many paid options to get your site looking the way you imagined.
There are even themes which have been specially created for when using WordPress for a charity website. Let's take a look at a few of the most useful themes available:
The Zeko theme uses modern and bold design to get your charitable message out there. It has been designed to integrate perfectly with plugins like Give and Woocommerce. They have six-page templates which can be used as the basis for your charity site and include project, cause, about and staff pages.
The Grassroots theme is specially designed with fundraising in mind. It includes the WooCommerce Campaign Extension plugin to allow fundraising within your own site. It has a sponsors section where donor's names can be featured and has support for the Events Calendar plugin.
Another option which is optimised for use by charities is the Foundation theme. This theme is designed to help raise funds with two requests for donations on the homepage. The theme has support for WooCommerce and email newsletter sign up integration.
This theme is designed to focus the attention of the visitor and direct them to take action. This could be to encourage people to make a donation or to register as a volunteer, but it can be used for any purpose.
The previous themes required payment for you to use them; the Benevolent theme offers a free option as well as a paid upgrade. The pro version gives you more customisation options for text and colours.
It also provides page templates for everyday uses and WooCommerce compatibility amongst other features. You could always give this theme a try and upgrade later if it meets the charity's requirements.
These are just a few themes which have been designed to make charity websites more easy to create on WordPress. You aren't limited to just themes which have been designed for charities, however.
There are over 11,000 themes available, and you can select and customise whichever you like the look of for your site.
Once you have your WordPress site all set up and ready to go, there is the not inconsequential matter of creating some content for the site.
You may already have a lot of information which can be posted to the new website. Information about what the charity does, stories about how money donated has helped, volunteer profiles and news of upcoming events are just a few of the possibilities.
It is a good idea to regularly add new posts to your site to keep patrons informed and to attract more visitors to your site. When you publish a post, you can promote it through any social media channels the charity has, to boost readership.
This sort of content can be added to the site from within your dashboard by creating a new post. There are some other things which need to be added, including about pages, contact details and an FAQ.
These should be added as pages rather than a new post. This will mean that these pages are treated differently to posts and will be available in a different menu.
Hopefully, we have given you enough information to show you the benefits of using WordPress for a charity website.
If you aren't used to building or maintaining a website, there will be a learning curve to overcome, but with persistence, you can have the charity's site up and running in no time. If you run into any problems, there is plenty of help available to solve the issues.