December 29

Want to raise more funds at less cost? Here’s how to start a charity donation website


So you want to build your website for the charity you’re in.


Having worked in the social services for 5 years, I continue to be amazed at the number of charities that do not have websites.

How would people donate to you if you don’t have a website?

Sure, you might say,

  1. I have a Facebook page.
  2. Isn’t Instagram enough?
  3. Why do I need a website?

Starting a website for your charity gives it a legitimacy that would be hard to compare with anything else.

Especially the custom domain that comes with starting a website.

Before we tell you how to start a charity website for donations, we are going to tell you what you should not, absolutely, should not, do.

We recommend (the too long, didn’t read version)

Item you need to buy Top recommended Why? Pricing (USD) per year
Domain name Cloudflare Because of its enterprise level security $9.90
Hosting Chemicloud Because of how fast it is $198
Theme builder Thrive Themes Because of how its focused on driving conversions, meaning into potential service users, or into potential donors or volunteers $298

Here’s an analogy that might help.

An analogy to help you understand what domain names, hosting, and theme builders really mean.
An analogy to help you understand what domain names, hosting, and theme builders really mean.

You need the street sign so that people can find you (which is the domain name under Cloudflare, GoDaddy, etc). This is usually cheap, under $20.

The expensive one is the land your virtual home will have, which is the hosting. This commonly costs $300 per year.

Then you need the interior design of your virtual home, using a theme builder like Thrive Themes. This often costs about $298 per year.

Item Why needed Usual yearly cost
Domain name So that people can find your site on the Internet $9.90 on Namecheap to $21.60 on Google
Hosting So that your site has a virtual home to sit on $299 on Siteground
Themes So that your site can look nice $298 with a theme builder like Thrive Themes

Don’t use a free account of Wix, WordPress, or Squarespace

Here’s a question for you.

Let’s say you’re running a charity that rescues dogs. Or that you’re running an educational charity that provides tuition to children.

If someone emailed you from [email protected], would you give them any money?

Or if someone said their website was, would you give them your credit card details?

Nope. You wouldn’t.

This is why you need a website.

With your own custom domain.

Yes, we get that $9.90 for a Cloudflare domain sounds expensive, especially when you don’t know how to even set up the hosting (I hear you screaming ‘What?!’ now).

Do not bother with Wix or Squarespace

I will propose something more radical.

Can’t find the right website builder? Here’s what you should NOT use.

Don’t use Squarespace or Wix too.

As much as it seems easy to set up, it’s not that good in the long run, especially if you want to integrate Customer Relationship Management software like Salesforce, email marketing software, or payment gateways.

You might use it initially because it seems like it has a relatively smoother learning curve. But honestly, having used all of them over the past 3 years, I still find WordPress the better option.

WordPress is the overall, better content management system

Here, I’m going to throw in a term that sounds complex.

Content management system.

Basically, that’s what Squarespace, Wix, WordPress and Shopify are. They are platforms where you can manage the content that you put onto the web.

I recommend WordPress because of 3 things.

Firstly, the loading speed is faster compared to others like Wix and Squarespace, especially on a good host like

Wix and Squarespace are often bloated with many widgets and plug-ins that need to load over the cloud, whereas the WordPress code base seems to be much cleaner and well-structured compared to the other platforms.

There is a reason why WordPress runs almost 40% of all sites on the Internet, too.

Secondly, WordPress is still hands down, the best for search engine optimisation (SEO). SEO is the art of making your website discoverable on search engines like Google.

Why WordPress is the best for charity websites
Nah don’t worry anymore. You can write, and keep writing with WordPress.

You do this by writing content that Google ranks as useful to people, and therefore continually delivers to people who are searching for a particular query.

This is where WordPress beats the rest.

WordPress is made for writing.

That’s why you find that the content you produce there is one of the simplest to format. There’s even software like Ulysses that allows you to write the content easily and move it to WordPress.

This means that you can quickly produce content compared to the other platforms.

Lastly, it’s best for customising flexibly, with the help of templates and plugins. Because WordPress powers so much of the internet, many services like payment gateways, email marketing software, and other utilities have found it useful to write widgets predominantly for WordPress.

It’s like how you find the most software for Windows, because so many people use Windows.

Don’t buy your domain at GoDaddy

I’m going to have a go at GoDaddy.

It’s the worst thing you would ever pay for on the Internet.

The interface is clunky, the website builder is crappy, and they make sure you pay through the nose for what’s pretty bad service.

You’ve been warned. The only reason why they sound ‘legit’ is because they have been in business for a long time, and they have fancy marketing.

Just don’t use it.

Don’t use a host like GoDaddy

Don’t get me started on their hosting.

It’s even slower.

What needs to go into a charity website

Before you do up the charity website, you need to know what its purpose will be for. Having studied many charity websites, we realise that the best ones include:

  1. How the charity helps people – the services it offers, and why it does that
  2. How you can help the charity – either through volunteering or donating

The example of Charity Water

Charity Water is one of the best charity websites that we’ve found.

Their site has a clear vision of how you can help.

Payments gateway

This is where it’s going to get technical.

Hold on.

We will go slow.

If you look at the Charity Water’s payment section, it looks deceptively simple. But behind it lies a massive infrastructure that makes this possible.

You need 2 things to get donations online.

  1. An (open) payment cart to let buyer ‘order’ how much money they want to pay
    1. You might think this sounds frivolous. Why can’t the person just key in their credit card details into your website’s notepad? I’m kidding. But you get the idea. It’s so their details are safe.
  2. Payment processor that takes the money from the donor’s credit card
The payment systems you need to get donations online (Credit: Serious Bloggers Only)
The payment systems you need to get donations online (Credit: Serious Bloggers Only)

Get someone (like us!) to help

I know, it can sound crazy especially when your charity is trying to raise more money, to ask you to invest money in getting someone to help.

But let’s be clear.

You don’t have to break the bank to do this.

All it costs is $1200. Split over 3 months.

I think we are pretty reasonable, and that’s why you might want to think about it.

But the choice, is in your hands.



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