How to start a charity website: the planCharity by Kemuel Tags : Business, Charity, Non profit, Web Design
The journey begins
In this first post we’ll have a look at what comes before starting a website. Your website is a means to easily share your ideas with the world. At the same time it is a form of advertising. The more serious you take your content and layout, the more professional you will look to the outside world. Trust is something you will need if people are to entrust you with their time, effort and money.
A common goal
First you must decide on your goal:
- What problem do you want to tackle?
- Are others already doing the same in your neighborhood or country?
- Can you work together or is there something you want to do differently?
Answering these questions will help you make your goals more concrete. Forming a plan of action will also become easier when you realize what, where and how you want to achieve these goals.
Once your goals begin to take shape, ask the opinion of others. Allow them to be critical, get feedback and hone your thoughts. Who knows, as your plan takes shake perhaps some of the people you’ve contacted may even consider helping you on your goal.
- Friends and family: people you already know will be most willing to help, make use of that!
- Doctors, shelters, other charities, …: people who are already trying to deal with the problem (or similar problems) that your charity wants to tackle.
- Target group: the people or cause that you are trying to help, get their opinion as well. While you may mean well, the feedback of those who face these problems day by day may be most important to form your plan of action.
Spend enough time on this stage as well. It will allow you to shape what you want to do and remind you why you want to do it. Fortifying your resolve will be important for the journey ahead.
This step will be lighter on the mind, but difficult in its own way. Once you know what you want to do, you must form a brand. Find a name for your organization, perhaps even a slogan. Try to keep it simple and original, also type it into Google and see what results you will be competing with. An acronym which spells out Coffee Charity is great, but don’t expect people to find you easily. Also make sure the name isn’t taken by anyone else to avoid confusion and legal issues. A good name should be simple and powerful. Where possible it should instill in those that hear it the idea of your organization, but at the same time as long as it is easy to remember people will eventually associate it with you. Just don’t make it too hard on them. If you have time it can also be good to try and invent a logo, or at least a color scheme. After all we’ll be building a website and graphical unity will greatly strengthen your brand.
Choosing a domain name
The domain name (i. e. organization.org) is a key part of the identity of a website. If you are only just now starting to hunt for your organization’s name it can be good to choose a name and domain name which are as close as possible. It should be easy to remember, so keep it short. While this sounds easy, in practice many short domain names are already taken. If your idea is CureCancer.com, don’t expect it to be available. You can check the availability (and pricing) of domain names on our website or that of any other domain name registrar. You’ll have to choose both your domain name and it’s extension, for example .com or .org. Nowadays there are many extensions available, but if the most common ones are taken, be careful that you won’t drive others to their site instead. Often it’s best to stick to one of the basic extensions such as .com or .org or a geographical equivalent such as .us, .co.uk. These are easy to remember and often relatively cheap. Keep in mind the registration price will have to be paid yearly and permanent discounts are hard to find, as every company will have to pay the same minimal registration costs to the authorities which manage these domains. Ask yourself carefully what sites you often visit yourself and what you would expect the domain name of your site to be if you heard the name of your organization. Registering multiple domains is an option, but it will cost extra money and you should preferably redirect them all to one main domain name. Of course if you plan to be active internationally, you can make multiple websites, but this is likely to be the case for starting non-profits.
As we’ve mentioned before, and no doubt will mention again, a charity or non-profit organization is a form of business. Eventually this means you will have to set up a legal entity. Usually this isn’t too complex, but you’ll have to check out your local regulations and contact a lawyer and/or accountant. Often they will provide a free discussion session.
It is, of course, entirely acceptable to try and gather support for your cause first and see if you yourself are ready for the time and commitment achieving your goals will require. Before accepting donations though, be sure to have everything in order.
In this post we’ve discussed the preparations of starting a website. In the next post we’ll finally begin the technical preparations.