So you’ve decided to run a charity site (or sites) through WordPress. That’s a completely reasonable decision you’re unlikely to regret. It’s free to use (great for operations working on limited budgets), extremely popular (meaning there’s a vast community to help you), and mixes solid templates with great customizability (so you can put as much work into it as you like).
It does, however, consign you to spend quite a lot of time getting to grips with how this hyper-successful platform works. Though it’s far from being the most complicated or hard-to-learn CMS out there, it isn’t something you can master right away — and since it wasn’t designed for charity sites in particular (originally being a blogging platform), there are steps you’ll need to take to make it your ideal online foundation.
In this post, we’re going to look at some actions you can take to make the most of the opportunities presented to you by WordPress. In the end, you should be able to cut your costs, improve your fundraising, and see various general improvements. Let’s get started.
Invest in a top-notch charity website theme
It’s vital that you never forget the importance of appearance in the charity world. It may be altruism that ultimately pushes someone to donate, but consider their perspective when they first land on your website. They may have searched for a charity, but there’s also a chance that they clicked on a piece of your content and weren’t really thinking about donation.
If they were in standard internet-browsing mode when they clicked (i.e. looking for entertainment or at least diversion), then they arrived with a desire to see an interesting website, and they’ll leave fairly quickly if they’re bored. This will prevent your message, however worthy, from reaching them, and lose a golden opportunity to inspire action and earn some funding.
To keep them around, you need your website to look great at first glance, which means getting a great theme that communicates key information easily while achieving a nice aesthetic. Take a look at this selection of charity themes to see what goes with your desired style. Investing in a strong theme will set you up nicely for the future.
Take advantage of free or low-cost hosting
Very notably, WordPress is a self-hosted platform by default. Some hosts are better than others, but the point is that you have options: some platforms include hosting and don’t allow you to host them elsewhere. This is meaningful here because there are many hosts and service providers that offer free or low-cost hosting for nonprofit organizations.
This is true of small and big businesses alike. It doesn’t detract much from their profits, it makes for great PR, and — to be less cynical — it’s the decent thing to do. So where should you start? For WordPress, there are myriad low-cost WordPress hosting options on the market such as SiteGround, Bluehost, and GreenGeeks. They all offer solid performance and excellent support, so you can’t really put a foot wrong. GreenGeeks with its eco-friendly philosophy might be a particularly good fit for a charity.
Notably, you can often take advantage of pricing tiers and offers aimed specifically at charities. SiteGround, for instance, is known for supporting non-profits through free hosting, so there’s a good chance you could get some support that way. Keep in mind that it’s often worth reaching out if you just can’t find the budget to create a great site: rates are fundamentally negotiable, and people will usually be willing to help you out.
What if you have greater demands, though? Maybe you’re launching a massive online operation and need more power and flexibility for your site. Well, you can still use WordPress — it’s highly configurable — and simply draw upon similar charitable schemes for enterprise-level platforms. Microsoft, for instance, offers nonprofits service credits for its Azure cloud hosting platform.
If you’re comfortable doing your own research, take a look at the options and terms for these schemes. If you’re not, I suggest consulting a cloud solution distributor that licenses whatever platform (or platforms) you’re considering: a good example for Azure would be intY, a company that offers a lot of Microsoft-specific expertise. Reach out to such a company and it should be able to explain how you can draw upon nonprofit rates (it may even offer some of its own).
Choose the most suitable donation plugin
As noted before, WordPress wasn’t built for charity websites, so it doesn’t feature any native donation features. Fortunately, its vast library of plugins (many of which are free) ensures that you can add pretty much any features you want — and there’s no shortage of plugins built to add donation functionality (see below). Your task isn’t finding one, but choosing the one you like the most and committing to it.
So how do they differ? Well, one plugin might be extremely simple: install it, enable it, and you get a straightforward donation button on your homepage. Another might be far more complex, allowing you to easily change the type, size, and color of the button but making it much tougher to get working correctly.
And then there are different payment options and portals to consider. How do you want people to donate? Do you want to suggest specific amounts or just take whatever they’ll offer? This list of donation plugins should help you pick out some candidates, but keep in mind that there are many other decent options out there — so keep searching if there’s something you’re looking for.
Keep blogging to show character and passion
Lastly, harkening back to the origins of WordPress, you mustn’t forget to establish and maintain a comprehensive content-marketing strategy. If you aren’t proactive, people won’t learn about your charity, and you won’t be able to raise any money — and since WordPress is natively a blog, it should be extremely easy to start adding some posts.
When you write posts, you need to focus on two things: communicating the importance of the cause you’re supporting, and showing that you’re truly passionate about it. The more people see your investment in your work, the more they’ll want to support you — and if you seem relatively apathetic then readers will assume the cause isn’t really that important. Try checking out these great charity blogs to get some inspiration. The Meow Blog, pictured below, is a great example of how you can show personality and passion.
You don’t need to release something every day, of course. Just try to get something out every week, or every two weeks if that isn’t viable. Your top priorities should be consistency and quality: updating your blog on a schedule so people know new content is coming and hitting a high level of quality every time. It’ll take a while for your content marketing to pay off, but if you stick to what you’re passionate about, you’ll see results eventually.
Wrapping up, WordPress is a fantastic foundation for a charity site, but you need to use it well if you want to get the best results. Follow the suggestions we’ve covered here and you’re sure to see significant improvements in the near future.