Donations are the heartbeat of any charity and essential to their lifespan. Often the main purpose of a charity’s website is to encourage donations and to provide information to encourage site visitors to donate.

There are lots of things a charity should bear in mind to ensure they’re making the most of their website. Here are some tips to guide you in the right direction.

This post is written by Pedalo, a London-based web design agency specialising in charities.

1. Your homepage is your shop window

The homepage is the most important page on any website. It’s essential that the homepage provides an immediate positive impression. Concise text explaining what is contained within the site and guiding users to the next steps is vital. The key to the homepage is to communicate your core message and provide easy access to the next action.

2. Make your mission clear

It can be very frustrating to land on a website and have no idea what the organisation does. Add a strap line or brief summary that clearly outlines what it is you do and what the objective of your charity is.

3. Make sure the donate button stands out

Your donate button is the most important feature on your website and the user should be able to easily locate it. It is best if it’s in the same position on each page and it should use a bright or contrasting colour so it is highlighted well.

It shouldn’t be lost alongside other information on the site, so a clean and tidy layout which leaves the button within a spacious frame is advisable.

4. Make it clear how donations are used

If you are going to part with money, it’s natural to want to know where it is going and how it is being spent. By showing site visitors what projects you are working on and how donations are used, you are more likely to encourage people to donate as they have an understanding of how they are helping. You could include some images that relate to how donations are spent so visitors of the site can actually see your recent achievements.

It gives people a sense of satisfaction to know they are able to help a charity change the lives of those in need so it is important to make sure they understand that their money goes a long way.

5. Have a fundraising page that is clearly promoted across the site

Some people will come to your site to make a straight off donation and others will be looking for ways to help through fundraising.

Provide helpful information on activities that people can do to raise money and make sure this information is accessible throughout the site. It is also a good idea to clearly state how money raised for the charity can be paid – this should include offline and online methods.

6. The design should reflect your brand identity

It is important that your brand is identifiable by users. The colour scheme should incorporate the colours used in your logo in some way. For example if your logo is red, you may want to use red to highlight key features of the site including devices and buttons that guide users to other areas of the website. This keeps your brand identity consistent.

7. Social media links

Setting up social media accounts such as Twitter is a great way to interact with supporters and boost your profile. You should include links to any social media profiles you have so users can access these profiles through your site and choose to follow you.

8. Keep in touch

It is a good idea to keep in touch with your supporters whether it be by post or email. It is a great way of notifying them when your project is moving forward or for times when you are in need of extra donations. Include an area on your site for people to sign up to your mailing list so you can keep in touch with them on a regular basis.

You should also have contact details for the charity on the site so people can contact you if they need to.

9. Optimise your website

It is important to have your website optimised for search engines so your website can be found. You should use title tags and keywords that reflect your content and your charity so that you attract relevant visitors.

It is also important to get others to link to your website as search engines favour external links highly. You could approach fundraising sites or blogs and supply them with a link and some blurb that promotes the good work you do. Remind those you approach that you are a charity and you are looking for help to draw attention to your cause.

10. Review your website

It is important that you review your website regularly. Not only should you test any functionality such as contact forms you should also assess the design and layout of the site – the web is ever changing so it is important you keep up with the latest evolvements so site visitors get the best user experience.

You should also integrate Google Analytics in your site – it is a free service from Google that provides you with stats on your site’s performance including where visitors came from, what content is most popular, how long they spent on the site and much more.

Evaluating the data from Google Analytics will help you to understand which parts of your site are performing the best so you know to spend more time and attention on these pages.

Pedalo have over 11 years experience in web design and development and have launched sites for a number of charities and not for profit organisations including Beating Bowel Cancer, Ricability, East Thames and social enterprise Tough Stuff.

Visit their website, contact them on 020 8747 3274  or follow them on Twitter.