Charities and CICs have the same goals in mind: to fulfil a social mission and make positive impacts within society. They are organisations with the clear objective of enhancing and improving the conditions of the community.

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    In order to be sustainable and carry out their operations, charities and CICs heavily rely on external sources of income such as grants, donations and fundraising events as well as the charitable giving of community members, other businesses and foundations. Whilst every charity and CIC wants to maximise their spending on good causes, there are certain costs of operation that are unavoidable. Can, and should, good causes seek grants to design, build and maintain their websites?

    Do charities and CICs need a website? 

    Good causes can benefit from having a website for several reasons, but there needs to be a clear specification and plan in place as to what exactly the charity is trying to achieve. Who exactly is the target audience and how will this be met through the creation of a website? What do you want them to do when they visit the website and how do you keep them engaged? Will your audience require any specific accessibility features in order to enjoy and engage with your website? These are important factors to consider, especially as one of the main incentives of a charitable organisation is to enlist the support of the public for the charity. 

    Ultimately, using a website will give charities and CICs a platform to spread knowledge of its stories, missions and goals. They will aid in bringing in attention to underlying problems and providing information about how the organisation themselves hope to have a more constructive impact on society. Using a website will more than likely facilitate their ability to reach out to more people, since it is an online presence that is easily accessible to millions worldwide at any time of the day. This will more likely attract potential volunteers and supporters, who are able to gain an understanding and get on board with the project. 

    Websites can also act as a primary source of fundraising, by providing or facilitating an easy and safe method for members of the public to donate to the organisation. Whether as single or monthly amounts, online donations are an easy addition to a website, especially when integrated with a payment gateway such as Stripe.

    What features should a charity website have in 2023? 

    A charity website requires several key elements to effectively engage visitors to align with their mission. A properly functional website would enable these charities to publish up-to-date information about their missions, events and initiatives so that they can consistently educate their audience. Charity websites need to be organised in an intuitive way so that users can navigate through the site without confusion and can grasp what the key messages are within the website. Therefore, the mission, values, and social impact of the charity should all be made very apparent and should be clear to understand. 

    Included should be images, videos and stories, but it’s crucial to pick the most meaningful and captivating ones that will pique the interest right away. In addition, sharing these can be used to convey a clear message to the visitors of the website. This is likely to grip the audience, driving them to get involved, since they feel empathy for what has been acknowledged. In turn, this can lead to more donations, more volunteers, and a community benefiting due to the actions taking place. 

    A charity website needs to have further components like interactive features. Areas of a website that are crucial for a charity include those that allow users to sign up or donate online, as well as having online surveys and quizzes that can educate these visitors and generate insightful feedback for the organisation. This all provides a better user experience. Moreover, in order to provide users with as much information as possible, charity websites should include their services, contact details, statistics and links to social media platforms. 

    One often overlooked factor when developing charity websites is the need for accessibility. As set out by W3C, the Web Accessibility Initiative, “When websites and web tools are properly designed and coded, people with disabilities can use them. However, currently many sites and tools are developed with accessibility barriers that make them difficult or impossible for some people to use.”

    What is web accessibility, and how can you ensure your website is accessible?

    Web accessibility seeks to ensure that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, contribute and engage with web content. Accessibility should be at the forefront of web design, especially for charity and CIC websites, and it isn’t just about catering for the visually impaired. Accessible websites should cater for auditory, cognitive, neurological, physical, speech and visual impairments, to ensure that the website can be accessed and enjoyed by all. As websites become an increasingly integral part of everyday life, ensuring your website is accessible is no longer an option, it is a necessity. 

    Many of the principles of web accessibility are easy to understand, such as ensuring a suitable colour contrast ratio to ensure colour blind users can see the foreground against the background. However, some of the more advanced tools, such as ensuring content resizes according to the needs of the user, can be more complex and difficult to implement when the charity or CIC is relying upon the manpower and skillsets of their volunteers, which is why many good causes turn to specialist web designers such as ourselves. 

    How much does it cost to develop a charity website? 

    The cost of developing a charity website can vary based on several factors. A charity website needs to be well-designed and fully accessible to all. They often need to include specific features such as donation and signing-up gateways as well as other interactive features which add to the complexity of the build. While cost is a consideration for charities, a quality website is crucial for a charity to successfully communicate its missions, engage supporters and get them on board by contributing towards donations. 

    Can grants be used for charity website design and development?

    Charities and CICs can access grants from councils, foundations and trusts that can help towards funding, developing and maintaining their organisation. If your website can be shown to help your organisation to survive and thrive, then it is worthy of a grant application. It is important to note that charities and CICs should conduct in-depth research in order to craft appealing grant applications. They should explain how the funding towards a professional website would assist them to spread its message to the wider world, as well as ensuring that their website content can be enjoyed by all, without any barriers to accessibility. Furthermore, it is critical that these charities and CICs establish strong relationships with the local businesses and the community in order to seize opportunities and benefit from potential sources of additional funding or assistance that could contribute towards these websites. 

    Many grant-giving organisations, such as foundations, trusts, grant programs and councils, understand how crucial a prosperous online presence is for charities to fulfil their missions and goals. Grants can be covered to provide a charity with the build of the website, the strategy, design and training, as well as the website management tools. Using grants can make charities make meaningful advancements within their organisation, by adding to their online presence, better serving their mission and helping out the community. It is important to note that after committing to a grant-giving organisation for a specific amount of time, charities may need to pay the ongoing expenses. 

    While it is valuable for charities to keep expenses to a minimum, it is also crucial for them to reach a wider audience to solidify their missions and messages, and one way to do this is by creating a high-quality and professional website. There are opportunities out there to use grants; it is just critical for charities and CICs to communicate their ideas in a way that would encourage these grant-giving organisations to join forces with them. Our team can provide an insight into the world of securing grants and funding to develop accessible websites to help good causes with their fundraising. If you would like to explore your options, please contact us for a free, no-obligation discussion.

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