A charitable organization must establish an online presence to appeal to potential volunteers and donors. Utilizing the Internet, the organization can effectively communicate its objectives and past accomplishments, ultimately impacting fundraising and the success of its charitable initiatives.
The organization can choose between two options for engaging online: collaborating with aggregators to feature campaigns from different organizations or creating its own dedicated online platform.
Benefits of Having Your Own Website
- Enhanced oversight of the fundraising process, encompassing donation management and tracking.
- Cost savings on commissions typically paid to third-party platforms.
- Capability to craft a distinctive and appealing interface reflecting the organization’s image.
- Potential to promote the website to boost awareness of projects and campaigns.
- Direct communication with donors and project participants via personalized messaging and reporting, bypassing intermediaries.
Requirements for Launching a Charity Platform
1. Clarify your objective
Defining your goal is crucial for determining the specific function of the website and the user experience it should provide. Developing a website without a clear purpose can result in a cumbersome and inefficient resource. The goals should extend beyond the website and connect with the external environment.
For instance, if the website is for a volunteer school, the primary focus would be on sharing information about the organization’s activities and attracting like-minded individuals. Therefore, the platform should be optimized for promotion, incorporate application forms for volunteer sign-ups, and feature an efficient analytics system. On the other hand, if the aim is to raise funds for charity campaigns, it’s essential to offer a user-friendly payment interface, integrate popular payment systems, and include an internal electronic wallet.
Once the goal is established, it’s crucial to outline the associated tasks. For instance, if the objective is to inform the audience about the organization’s initiatives and recruit volunteers, the tasks might include building a database of articles about the center and its activities, offering details about the center’s events, etc. These tasks should be incorporated into the website’s structure, such as through a blog, news section, and streamlined event registration.
2. Examine your target audience
Assessing the target audience is essential for crafting a website that aligns with user requirements and aids the charity in accomplishing its objectives.
Consider a volunteer center’s website as an illustration. The target audience for such a site may encompass individuals interested in volunteering and seeking up-to-date information, professionals looking to contribute to volunteering development, and journalists seeking information sources for their articles.
Tailoring content and functionality on the site for each user group is crucial. For example, for those new to volunteering, a section with training materials can be created, while experts can be provided with the opportunity to leave comments and offer advice, and a database of experts and volunteers prepared to provide interviews can be established for journalists.
When designing the website, it’s important to consider the distinctive characteristics of each user group. For instance, utilizing different color schemes for various sections can enhance their appeal to specific user groups.
Moreover, analyzing the target audience aids in identifying the most effective channels for website promotion. For instance, social networks and contextual advertising can be utilized to attract individuals new to volunteering, while email newsletters and participation in specialized events can be employed to engage experts. Collaboration with popular bloggers and participation in media projects can be valuable for attracting journalists.
3. Consider user scenarios
A user scenario describes a user’s interactions with a website, encompassing all actions they take to accomplish their objectives, such as searching for information, making a donation, or subscribing to a newsletter. Developing user scenarios aids in understanding the necessary functions and features required on the site, their expected behavior, and potential errors that may arise from their usage.
User scenarios example:
- A user lands on the home page of a charity organization’s website.
- The main page displays the latest news regarding the organization’s activities.
- The user clicks on a news item to access further details.
- On the news page, the user encounters the news text, images, videos (if available), and organizer contact information.
- If inclined to provide support, the user can click the “Help” button on the news page or the home page.
- This action leads the user to a donation page where they can choose the donation amount and preferred payment method.
- Following the payment, the user receives a confirmation via email.
4. Define the site structure
Based on the information provided, contemplate and compile a list of essential components for the website, such as:
- Calendar of Events: A dedicated section enabling users to view and sign up for upcoming events.
- Volunteer Technology School Activities: A segment focused on training programs, courses, and volunteer instructions.
- Articles: A section featuring informative content pertaining to the organization’s activities, charitable projects, as well as subjects related to charity and volunteering.
- Expert Directory: Information about project participating specialists and experts, encompassing their articles, presentations, and the option to seek guidance.
Gather this information into a document, which can be utilized during the website development stage. It’s preferable to utilize simple and accessible language, eschewing technical terms.
If challenges arise in determining the target audience, user scenarios, and site structure necessities, Cart-Power can assist. Each project is overseen by a knowledgeable manager. They will meticulously explore the issue, conduct market research, devise a roadmap, and propose a work plan. This information will be visually presented in a Mind Map, mitigating errors in task comprehension.
5. Selecting a development approach
Following that, it’s essential to choose a team to execute the project. Two options are available: employing an in-house specialist or seeking an external team. Internal specialists may excel in communication, but the process of locating, onboarding, and training them can be time-consuming and costly. When time is of the essence, engaging an external team may be more efficient than a lengthy search for the right specialists.
The more common choice is to hire an external specialist, such as freelancers or agencies. Freelancers often offer lower prices but may lack reliability. On the other hand, agencies provide pricier services but boast reputation and experience. Most development companies furnish guarantees for completed tasks and offer free bug fixes. Working with a development team under a non-disclosure agreement also ensures the safety of confidential information.
Developers can propose custom (individual) development or a ready-made solution. Since charities usually require specific functions, custom development is typically the only viable option. To economize, you can utilize ready-made solutions for design (select a pre-designed theme) or for platform enhancements (install necessary modules from a repository of ready-made solutions). Our specialists can assist in determining the best approach for your situation at no charge. We will conduct an evaluation, specify the time frame, and define the scope of work to create the optimal website.
Phases of Charity Platform Development
Allow us to guide you through the process of website development by the agency and advise you on what the client should anticipate.
1. Analytics, preparation of technical specifications
Upon selecting a developer, it’s essential to conduct an analysis and create technical specifications promptly. This process helps in clearly defining tasks and potential solutions to achieve mutual understanding between the developer and the client, thereby minimizing errors.
Simultaneously, a conceptual document outlining business requirements is formulated, delineating the goals, objectives, target audience, and site structure. The customer must review the document and make adjustments if there are disparities from the original requirements. Lacking a clear understanding of business requirements can result in an uncontrollable project budget or unforeseen outcomes.
Subsequently, a technical specification is created — a comprehensive text document elucidating the technical project requirements, understandable to the developer. It delineates the tasks, the pages to be created, their content, and functionality. Essentially, this document formalizes all previously discussed aspects. The finalized technical specification is then approved by the client and serves as an integral component of the contract.
A prototype serves as an initial representation of a website design, often appearing basic and rudimentary. Despite this, these drafts facilitate improved understanding of the client’s requirements, clarifying details and ensuring mutual concurrence on solutions. This phase presents an opportune time for making adjustments, such as substituting a text slider with an image. While the prototype does not establish the precise appearance of the site, it specifies its necessary components. Ultimately, the original business concept is translated into a visually comprehensible product.
Upon the client’s approval of the prototype, we can advance to the design phase. The specific functionality requirements for an effective and legally compliant donation collection site read in the article.
The design encompasses visuals of all the website’s pages. Ideally, there should be minimal problems required at this stage, as the design adheres to the approved prototype. During the design phase, the client should prioritize the preferences of potential site visitors rather than solely their own personal tastes. The goal is to ensure that the site appeals to its intended visitors.
Consequently, the client is provided with a series of images in Figma that effectively illustrate the website’s visual presentation.
Upon receiving the finalized design concept in image form from the designer, the next step involves transforming these visuals into functional code for implementation on the website. This process is carried out by a layout designer, who dissects each image into distinct elements and translates them into HTML and CSS code.
Next is the programming phase, conducted in the background, involving the development of the website’s internal structure and functionality. Typically, the client is not directly involved in this process, except in cases where substantial alterations to the site’s structure or functionality are necessary. Developers adhere to the technical specifications outlined in the contract as they work on the project.
Website testing involves the evaluation of a website’s performance, security, and user-friendliness. It encompasses diverse testing types, including functionality, usability, security, load, and performance testing.
This phase is essential for detecting and resolving potential errors, issues, and deficiencies that may arise during user interaction with the site. It serves to guarantee the site’s stability and reliability, while enhancing its usability and functionality. Additionally, testing contributes to confirming that the site aligns with customer requirements and established quality standards.
Upon the completion of website development, the agency undertakes the following actions:
- Hosts the project.
- Configures analytics.
- Prepares guidelines for resource use and maintenance.
Throughout the operation of a website, minor errors and deficiencies may surface, which may be unforeseeable even to an experienced developer. Consequently, it is essential for the developer to provide site support for a minimum of one month following its launch.
Cart-Power offers complimentary bug fixes for 365 days for individual project orders and 100 days for modification orders.
8. Mobile app
Creating an application will aid in effectively communicating the organization’s mission to the intended audience and expediting the fundraising process. The application offers extensive functionality for receiving and overseeing donations, enhancing transparency and convenience in the process. Further details about the mobile donation application are detailed in the articles: “How To Create a Donation App: Benefits, Steps, Examples” and “Key Features of a Nonprofit Organization App and Associated Expenses”.
Establishing a charity platform is a pivotal stride in the advancement of charitable organizations, enabling them to attract new donors, volunteers, and partners. An online presence serves to expand the audience, boost visibility, and raise awareness of the organization’s endeavors, ultimately enhancing fundraising and efficaciously fulfilling charitable missions.
To effectively launch a charity platform, one should consider two approaches: collaborating with aggregators and crafting a dedicated website, while taking into account the respective advantages of each. Essential aspects of this process entail defining goals, analyzing the target audience, formulating user scenarios, outlining site structure, and selecting a development methodology.
We specialize in developing websites on the CS-Cart platform, which is well-suited for not only online stores and marketplaces but also for charity sites. Its open-source nature allows for the seamless addition of essential functionalities and integration with various services, from payment systems to promotional tools.
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