Designing for Charity

Designing for Charity

Written on: 11/10/2011

After working with a few charities over the past couple of years, I have picked up some knowledge that I wanted to share with the community. These aren’t exactly ‘game changers’, in fact, they are quite obvious when you think about it, but that being said, many charity sites overlook these simple rules on design. So keep it simple, but effective:

1. Donors

Donors are usually financial, they can donate a one off payment, or set up a direct debit for monthly payments. You need to make this process as easy as possible for the potential donor. Don’t make things overly convoluted, keep it as simple as possible. Ideally, a simple (well designed) button that opens a donation page is enough.

Make the button stand out, but not so much that it looks gaudy. You want to be going for sleek but visual here. Don’t blend it into your navigation or make it small so people don’t notice it. Make it bold!

2. Volunteers

On the flip side of financial donors, you have people who want to donate time to a cause – these volunteers also need an easy way to find all the relevant information they need to get involved and help out.

Don’t just have a page with an email address on it – come on, these people want to help – you need to show them the love! Have a nicely laid out page that lists the ways in which they can help and really try to make it easy for them to get in touch.

3. Fundraising

If people don’t want to give money outright, many of them want to be able to fundraise for their chosen charity. So again, make this section of the site really stand out. You want people to know HOW they can fundraise and what activities they can do for you.

Bear in mind, many fundraisers may not have the same emotional connection to the organisation or the cause that donors or volunteers do – these people could just be serious runners who see the option of entering a race via a charity as a better way to do things – so their first priority is the event, not always the cause. Keep that in mind! Make the event the main focus here, not about how it helps the charity.

4. Make the site’s goal known

There is nothing worse than going onto a site and thinking “ok, what does this organisation actually do?” – scream it from the rooftops! If they raise money for essential research, shout about it. If they support people in need, shout about it. If they actively save a life every day, shout about it! Whatever the goal of the charity is, you need to make it known to your users early. Potential donors and volunteers want to know where their money or time is going – they want to know how they are helping! Shout about it!

5. Make it social

This really goes without saying, but there needs to be as many social hooks into and out of the site as possible – loads of +1’s and share on Facebook or ReTweet this icons – people are more inclined to share charity content than any other type of content, so take advantage of this to ensure that the analytics stay healthy every month.

Using things like Facebook Connect and various API’s to hook into the site will also help – people want ease of use, with minimal amount of ‘signing up’ to things – make it as easy as possible for them with the tools you already have at your disposal.

And finally… 10 fantastic examples of non profit sites

10. Oxfam

9. Breast Cancer Care

8. Action for Children

7. Unicef

6. Shelter

5. Anthony Nolan

4. Give us a Lift

3. Take the Walk


1. Comic Relief

I hope you have found this post interesting and informative.

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