Charity fundraising online

Paul Boag

A large proportion of the work I do at Headscape is with charitable organisations. I try and keep up to date with developments in the charity sector and I am constantly suprised how many opportunities are being missed to utlise the web.


The importance of the web for fundraising cannot be understated and there are examples of good practice out there. The Disaster Emergency Committee web site raised over £1 million in a week for the Sudan appeal. Web donations were 20% higher than those made by phone.

There are also a suprising number of resources out there dedicated to raising funds on the web and making it easier for people to give to charity.

However there are still many charities that have failed to embrass the concept and even fewer that have got it working well.

One problem is that although charities have donation facilities on their web sites they are not driving traffic to the site in an effective way. The charitable sector needs to learn to market and promote their donation facilities in the same way a company would promote its ecommerce site.

New Media Age reported that ‘poorly optimised’ charity websites – i.e. those that aren’t set up well enough to enable search engines to identify and rank them – were causing humanitarian charities to miss out on press coverage, as almost half of journalists find organisations working at a crisis scene by using search engines. This in turn can hit their fund raising efforts as publicity is their life blood.

When combined with poor site accessibility and usability these promotional problems leave charity web sites sadly lacking when compared to their commercial conterparts.


I guess I am just frustrated by the opportunities that are passing many charity web sites by on a daily basis. Charitable web sites are finding themselves competing with commercial sites for good search engine positions. They are attracting users who have high expectations about a web sites professionalism and usability. They need to make the same kind of investment a non chartible web site would if they intend to get their voice heard online.

I understand that charities have a morale obligation to spend the money they have been donated wisely but I think the Sudan Apeal proves that the web has the potential to generate a significant return on investment if done properly.

For a list of web design companies that work for the charitable sector click here.