5 top tips to maximise your charity’s online presence

Is your charity struggling to be heard above all of the noise on the web? Don’t worry – it’s a common problem for organisations of all sizes, and there are some simple tips that should enable you to be seen by people who are interested in your cause. Whether you’re a small operation or have bases across the UK, there are always things that can be refined – so we’ve put together the 5 main things that we suggest all charities take into account when sorting out their web presence.

Make sure that your website is regularly maintained

It’s a given that time is always stretched for any charity – but the importance of making sure that your website is regularly updated with information about what you are up-to cannot be understated. One of the main reasons that many people get involved with non-profits is the fact that they can actively try and change the world for the better – and if you’re not telling your audience about how you’re doing this, you’re potentially missing out on donations and volunteers.

A lot of charities simply have a static website with the most basic information about what it is the organisation does, followed up by contact information and a few images. While this is great for an overview, there is no incentive for people to come back – and, crucially, very little to make people emotionally engage with your cause.

While setting aside a little time each week to maintain a blog may not be the most obvious way to help out with your cause, the long-term benefits are potentially enormous. Even just in terms of documenting everything that you have achieved for future funding pitches or for your own personal records, the advantages are enormous.

Simple ideas for content

  • A weekly/monthly update on what your staff and volunteers have been up to.
  • Interviews with volunteers about their involvement with your cause
  • Progress reports of your ongoing appeals
  • A photo gallery focused on different aspects of your cause

Apply for a Google Adwords grant

As long as you’ve got a registered charity number, you are eligible to apply for a grant from Google to spend on their adwords scheme – and you could be awarded around £6,500 to use over the course of a year. In terms of making an enormous difference in a short space of time, this can be absolutely crucial.

Adwords allows you to bid to be at the top of Google’s listings, and while the scheme does have limits, it can allow you to directly get access to the kind of people looking to be involved with your cause. Simply by entering which keywords you would like to show up for, you could potentially increase the donations to your charity by thousands of pounds – for absolutely no cost. For example, a local animal sanctuary could make themselves appear top of the rankings for the search ‘Altrincham Animal Shelter’ with just a few clicks.

While adwords can be a little daunting for outsiders, Google themselves have put together a guide on how to use the platform and get the best out of it. You can find this – and all the information about applying for a grant – on the Google Adword Grant website.

What do I get from a Google Adwords grant?

  • A maximum of $10,000 (roughly £6,400) over the course of a year, which works out at around $329 (£210) a day
  • Up to a $2 (£1.25) big per search to appear for your selected keywords
  • Unlimited text ad campaigns on Google searches within your spending cap

Make sure all your appeal information is on your donations page

While time is always at a premium for charities, it’s the same for the public as a whole. If you’re attempting to raise donations on a crowd funding website, one sure way to make sure that you stand a better chance of hitting your goals is to make sure that all the relevant information about what your appeal is about on the donations page itself.

As is the case with all appeals, it is your donations page that is the most likely to be shared online and through social media. The majority of people will likely be clicking through to your crowd funding page with no prior knowledge of you or your organisation – and not having the relevant details right there can cause a high percentage of people to simply click away.

Even if someone is looking to donate to your cause, having to scout around for information about what it is you’re fundraising for simply puts another buffer between them sending money your way. By having a concise list of what your cause is hoping to achieve with the funds (and any information about what prompted the appeal) in the same place that people should be giving money makes the whole process a lot simpler from the user’s point of view.

Details to have on your donations page

  • What it is you’re raising money for
  • How it will help
  • The reasons behind your appeal
  • Other ways in which people can get involved

Encourage your staff and volunteers to get involved

Of all the tools at a charity’s disposal, the engagement from both staff and volunteers are perhaps the most vital. While the efforts that they put directly in to the organisation are obviously vital, they can be one of the most potent ways of letting you get your message out to other people who may be interested in getting involved with your cause.

Although you don’t want to be pressing the people who work with you to be constantly banging on about your appeals, simply asking them to do the odd post at times when you’re running appeals can massively increase the amount of reach of your charity. By the very definition, the people that your colleagues and volunteers know are likely the prime people that would like to be involved with your cause – and they likely already have some prior knowledge about what it is you do.

By creating a Facebook chat or e-mail chain between staff and voluntary workers, it allows you to start a real discourse between you, builds community and allows for you to subtly push for people to mention your work to their friends and family, either online or in real life.

What staff and volunteers offer for your online presence

  • A simple way to expand your audience
  • A direct path into the kinds of people who should be interested in what you do
  • A chance to build the sense of community around your organisation
  • Another reason to start discourse with people involved with your charity

Stay steady on social media

A common mistake that all organisations have in any sector is not being consistent with their social media output. It can be hard to properly understand how Twitter, Facebook and other platforms function to newcomers – but by simply making sure that your output is steady, you should be able to find your audience.

Both posting too much or posting too little can be enormous turn-offs – people don’t want to be bombarded with information 10 times an hour about what you’re doing, but equally an inactive twitter page can make you look unprofessional, or even uncommitted. If you don’t think that a social media platform is worth your time, don’t bother with it.

Whether you’ve got the time to post once an hour or once a week, making sure that you keep a similar output over a course of time will allow your audience to grow to understand what to expect of you.

How often to post on social media

  • Twitter
    Any more than once an hour is a waste, but at least once every other day
  • Facebook
    Ideally once a day, at most twice, no less than once a week