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Why you should use WordPress for your charity website.

Words byPiers TincknellMarch 24, 2017

WordPress is the perfect platform for charities to run and manage their website for many reasons. I will break down the top 5 functions that WordPress has which makes it the best tool for charities and not for profits to use for their website.

We have built multiple websites for charities and not for profit organisations over the last 6 years, which each project there is always a unique element which is always to be expected when you offer a bespoke WordPress website design service. Some of our charity and not for profit based clients include:

One25 – Bristol Charity helping vulnerable women break away from the streets.

The British Cardiovascular Intervention Society – Regular meetings for those interested in interventional vascular procedures.

KWMC – Knowle West Media Centre, creating a stronger community through digital and arts.

38 Degrees – People, Power, Change. Making it easier than ever to get a petition together.

Playing Out – Making street play accessible for everyone.

There are many functions within WordPress which make it a very powerful tool but I will limit this post to just my 5 top ones.

1) Awesome Community

WordPress is built and maintained by a community of world class developers who truly care about it’s future.

WordPress is an Open Source technology. If you are not 100% sure what open source means then you can read more here. A quick summary is that it means that people can modify it and edit it to improve it as a community. Where as closed source software relates to things like Apple iOS and Internet Explorer, but also website builders like Squarespace and also Shopify.

You can read a bit more about the WordPress community here.

Bristol is holding it’s own WordPress WordCamp conference on the 13th – 14th May. It’s at events like this where website designers and developers can come together to share ideas and you can learn more about the future of WordPress and what it’s plans are. WordCamp Bristol is really starting to take shape and we are looking forward to heading along.

The main benefit for charities when it comes to WordPress being open source is that once your website is complete, there should be no shortage of people who can work on it for you in the future. If you used a closed system or had a developer build your code themselves from scratch not on an open source framework then it may end up costing a lot of money to get updates made in the future. Working with open source gives you confidence that if something did go wrong and your current developer is not around to fix it then all you need to do is reach out to the community and someone can assist.

2) Custom Post Types / Custom Development

Because WordPress is open source this means that you are not limited to what it can do out of the box. In its pure form WordPress is very simple but by combining plug-ins and development tools such as Advanced Custom Fields then you can turbo charge your WordPress theme to do exactly what you wish.

When you first install your WordPress installation then the two functions you have to work with are pages and posts. I will put up another article in the future explaining the difference between a WordPress Post and a WordPress page. These two functions though are very powerful and for some projects it might be all that you need.

However once you have been through your planning process for the website (read about using  Trello to plan your projects here) then you will have a better idea of how you might want to break up your content on the website.

For example when we were planning the website for Playing Out, we starting thinking about how best to organise their data. After a series of sessions we came up with 4 extra custom post types for their project.

Local Authorities
Active Streets
Local Contacts
Events

By allowing Playing Out to have these extra post types within WordPress we were then able to organise their data on the front of the website in a much cleaner way. For example by having the local authorities in their own custom post type we were then able to build a very easy to use directory for the users to find contact details for their nearest local authority.

Then using the taxonomy function within WordPress we were then able to break the post type of local authorities down into a more granular data type by including postcodes and regions as taxonomies.

3) Incredibly Secure

WordPress is equally as secure as any other open source CMS available and arguably more secure than a number of close source CMS solutions. There are a couple of rules to follow to ensure you keep WordPress as secure as possible as with many things often security breaches come from users and developers not following the best practices.

Rules:

Always keep WordPress updated. Often security breaches come because the WordPress core has not been updated and hackers are able to exploit old security flaws.

Always keep your plug-ins update. Same reason as above.

Never use plug-ins that are not widely supported or well known. Due to the fact that anyone can build a plug-in and put it up for download you need to be careful when adding new plug-ins to your website. We only use a small handful of very well known and well tested plug-ins on our websites.

Keep your passwords STRONG. This is the usual suspect when websites get compromised, it’s due to users not having strong passwords.

Remove old users once they have left your organisation. WordPress easily allows for you to reassign posts and pages to new authors so there is no excuse for not removing someone’s access after they have left your organisation

4) You can handle donations yourselves.

Using WooCommerce and if you are able to handle the reclamation of gift aid yourselves then you can easily use WooCommerce to handle your donation process. Using something like WooCommerce allows for total flexibility around your organisation. Would you like to take regular donations? No problem!

Want to handle your own donations?

Speak to us and we can explain more on how to do this.

Get in touch

5) Ability integrate with a CRM.

If you are running a marketing platform or a regular CRM then using the WordPress API you are able to integrate your website directly into your donor database. Each one works slightly differently but we have had great success of integrating WordPress with CiviCRM as well as directly with MailChimp.

An example of an integration would be, once someone fills out a donation form then they are also automatically added to your donors list in your CRM and you can start to look at using clever automated tools to ensure their engagement stays high with the charity.

Summary

Each charity and not for profit has their own needs from a website and WordPress is the perfect tool for creating a powerful online platform that can help with the day to day running of the organisation as well as ensuring your users have a great online experience.

Speak to Piers

If you would like to hear stories about how we helped charities improve their online experience.

Get in touch
Profile picture ofPiers Tincknell

Piers Tincknell

Piers is a co-founder of Atomic Smash and heads up the user experience design and project management in the studio. He is also the best contact for any new business enquiries.

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