Build a Charity Website from Scratch in USA
7 Easy Steps to Build a Charity Website from Scratch in USA
A good name, a great charity website, and tax-exempt status are the top 3 tips to boost donations for your nonprofit in the USA.
Know the 7 secrets to build a charity website?
In addition to being tax-free, a qualified IRC 501 (c) (3) charity will attract more donors as their contributions to the nonprofit are tax-deductible.
Just as a great website can increase donations, the right approach to build a charity website from scratch can save you both time and money.
This post covers the ins and outs of building a charity website and accepting donations in the USA and how you can do all this with little or no experience.
- 5 Pre-steps to Launching a Charity Website in the USA
- 7 Easy Steps to Build a Charity Website in the USA & Boost Fundraising
The first part also guides you about legal requirements to accept donations for your charity and make it tax-exempt.
5 Pre-steps to Launch a Charity Website in the USA
- Define Mission – Why & How Your Charity Exists
- Identify Your Target Audience
- Ensure It’ll Get Tax-Exempt Status to Attract More Donors
- Choose a Good, Unique Name for Your Charity
- Get an EIN Number & Articles of Incorporation to Open up a Bank Account
1.Define Mission – Why & How Your Charity Exists
Clearly state the purpose of your charity like who it serves and how.
Do you want to protect animals or serve the suffering humanity?
Also, define if it’s a public charity or a private foundation.
Mostly they are public charities and collect donations from public and governmental entities.
Your mission could be:
- Rescuing and protecting animals
- Helping out the sick and the disabled
- Serving students
- Supporting environmental protection and conservation
- Launching global disaster relief and peace missions
- Providing help to the needy,
- Promoting a religious cause, etc.
Your mission statement will be helpful in your IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and state filings and in solicitation for donations.
2. Identify Your Target Audience
Your target audience could be the local community, or you might be planning to collect donations worldwide.
To target a global audience, you’ll need a payment gateway of international reach like PayPal.
3. Ensure It’ll Get Tax-Exempt Status to Attract More Donors
Donors are more likely to make donations to tax-exempt nonprofits as their contributions can be tax-deductible on their tax returns.
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to be tax-exempt a charitable organization should serve the public and it must not be organized and operated for private interests.
Your charity must apply to the IRS to qualify as tax-exempt under Section 501 (c) (3) of the IRC (Internal Revenue Code).
At IRS.gov, you can read more about exemption requirements.
4. Choose a Good, Unique Name for Your Charity
An action-inspiring name is one of the key steps to boost fundraising on a charity website.
Besides, a good, unique name for your nonprofit will help you to get accepted for incorporation by the office of the Secretary of State.
Typically, a charity organization’s name ends in Ltd., Inc. Corp., Incorporated, Incorporation.
5. Get an EIN Number & Articles of Incorporation to Open up a Bank Account
To open up a bank account for your charity in the United States of America, you will need a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) and a copy of your filed Articles of Incorporation.
You can apply for an EIN online through the IRS website.
After doing the first things first, start building a great charity website through an easy step-by-step procedure as detailed below.
7 Easy Steps to Build a Charity Website in the USA & Boost up Fundraising
- Plan How You Will Do Fundraising on Your Charity Website
- Pick Out a Charity WordPress Theme to Style Your Site
- Set up a Recurring Donation System – Consider a Free Plugin
- Get a Gateway with Preferred Payment Option for Each Donor
- Get Secure Hosting and Install SSL Certificate
- Optimize Your Site for Search Engines
- Run Social Media Campaigns – Most Charities Do
Use these 7 easy steps to build a charity website and start accepting donations in the USA from global donors.
Best practices to boost up fundraising are also listed.
1. Plan How You Will Do Fundraising on Your Charity Website
It might seem undesirable, but don’t be tempted to skip this step. A pre-panning regarding how you will raise funds for your cause will save you from future complexities and help you collect enough funds in the given timeframe.
Your planning would involve:
- How much money do you want to collect?
- Your target audience (local or global community).
- A payment gateway to provide donors with local payment options.
- Boost fundraising through automated recurring donations.
- How you will raise awareness of your cause and attract volunteers/donors.
To see which payment gateway is best for your location, check out the world’s top 15 donation processing platforms.
2. Pick Out a Charity WordPress Theme to Style Your Site
Converting visitors to volunteers, donors, and lifetime supporters requires a lot more than just creating a charity website.
To convince potential donors to support your cause, your nonprofit website must showcase:
- A mission statement
- Targets achieved (with stats, pictures, videos)
- Achievements/awards/success stories
- Upcoming events (with countdown)
- Various ways to support (donate, send a gift, buy products)
- Campaign management
- A volunteer management system
- Donors’ appreciation
- Reviews and testimonials
- A news blog, etc.
While getting all this done might incur huge costs, you can pick out a charity WordPress theme with all the built-in systems and functionalities, like Lifeline2.
Using 500+ theme options and 50+ short codes, you can quickly build a charity website with personalized look, feel, and functionality.
3. Set up a Recurring Donation System – Consider a Free Plugin
Mostly fundraising organizations look for long-term or lifetime supporters who are willing to make recurring donations.
You will need a sophisticated recurring donations management system to accept payments from such individuals and organizations.
But make sure, your recurring donation system also includes the features like:
- An option for donors to set an amount they can easily afford for recurring payments
- Defining/choosing a recurring frequency
- Various styles for donation forms
- A donation button (to be placed anywhere)
- Supports all the popular payment gateways, etc.
You can consider installing a free plugin for recurring donations system on your charity website or you can install Donorbox's recurring donation plugin for free.
4. Get a Gateway with Preferred Payment Option for Each Donor
Often neglected by fundraising organizations, a local payment option can serve as a big factor to boost up fundraising.
It’ll increase conversion and promote quick payments.
Donors usually like to donate using a local payment gateway they are already using for their routine transactions.
Complexities attached to an unfamiliar processor would cause them to either delay the payment or look for other charities to contribute to.
The following are the major payment processing providers you can use to accept donations in the USA.
- Paypal Pro – Serves 200+ countries/territories and 25+ currencies.
- 2Checkout – Present in 230+ countries/territories with 45+ payment methods.
- Braintree – Works in 45+ countries/ regions with access to 260+ million PayPal users.
- Authorized.Net – For charities based in the US, the UK, Europe, Canada, Australia, etc.
- Stripe – Available for charities in 39+ countries. Supports 135+ currencies.
- Amazon Pay – Accept voice-based donations from Amazon customers worldwide.
- Bluepay – Especially for Canada and the US to collect funds from home and abroad.
5. Get Secure Hosting and Install SSL Certificate
If you are going to build a charity website to raise funds online, it is very important to arrange secure hosting for it.
Any negligence and malpractice, in this regard, might cause loss of collected funds and jeopardize sensitive financial information of donors.
And one thing more – don’t forget to install an SSL certificate on it to safeguard users’ precious data.
While it involves sizable annual costs, you can get an SSL Certificate for your charity website free from the nonprofit Internet Security Research Group.
6. Optimize Your Site for Search Engines
A search engine optimization will bring and boost up organic traffic to your charity website, thus increasing donors and donations.
For this, you have to be very careful from the very beginning.
Top 10 techniques for search engine optimization include:
- Use a lightweight charity WP theme.
- Improve page speed – a critical factor for SEO.
- Write high quality, SEO content.
- Do internal and external linking.
- Get backlinks for your nonprofit website.
- Promote on social media and do extensive sharing.
- Use the right keywords in your images.
- Consistently publish unique content (in the blog section).
- Only include meaningful and readable URS.
- Don’t forget to write meta descriptions.
7. Run Social Media Campaigns – Most Charities Do
Most charities use social media platforms to raise awareness about their cause, promote charity events, and drive traffic to their nonprofit website.
To cash in on the power of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest, etc. you should also integrate various social media platforms on your site. Or, you can buy a theme that’s social media enabled.
It isn’t that simple to build a charity website in the USA and start accepting donations from anywhere in the world.
But choosing and doing right things at the right time can make everything easier and rewarding.