Chidi applied for money for the youth club from a UK charity. On the application form it said “website”. Chidi didn’t have one so she left out that part. The charity wrote back saying that as she didn’t have a website they wouldn’t be taking her application forward. The next week another friend of a friend in the US who had been thinking of fundraising sent her a Whatsapp. “What’s your website, Chidi?”. “We don’t have one,” she replied. “That’s too bad. It’s so hard to prove that your project is real if you don’t have a website”.
Chidi had never really thought about this. It hadn’t been a priority. Her girls came through local connections. They used Whatsapp mainly to stay in touch. But it seemed that other people needed to see a webpage to believe that her project was real, not a scam.
A website is a place where the whole world can find your youth project. Your participants, volunteers and potential donors. It’s a place where you can sell your idea and explain what you are doing and why.
Many small NGOs struggle to make good websites. It can be time-consuming, and there is skill involved in getting it right:
- Think about your audience. Is it primarily donors? Local or foreign? Would it also be parents or young people?
- Think about the information your audiences would need from your website.
- If it’s parents and young women, maybe they want to know how to sign up, and the type of activities your girl’s club offers.
- Donors will want to know why your project is needed, why your activities are effective, and how to donate.
- Remember that whichever audience you primarily want to reach, ANYONE can see your website. You don’t want to tell your donors that all your students are from ‘destitute, broken families with little hope for the future as the students will be able to see this. What message does this send to these girls about how you respect them?
- Make sure that any official details showing you are a legitimate organisation are there – you need contact details, information on your legal registration (such as your registration number as an NGO) and perhaps a map showing where your office is (as long as this doesn’t affect anyone’s safety).
- Keep it simple. A good youth club website:
- Is easy to navigate
- Doesn’t have spelling mistakes or broken links
- Is up to date – it’s better to have a simple website with accurate information than a complex one that nobody knows how to maintain. If the most recent blog post is from 2018, people will wonder whether your youth club is still running.
- Many web designers will suggest complicated ideas. Just say no if you don’t think you can keep it updated.
- A web presence can be free- making a simple website using a free tool is easy! If you aren’t confident in yourself, this is an ideal project to give to your young people who are likely to be familiar with things like this. [The Best 10 Website Builders – Best Website Builders in UK]
- If you have the budget– pay someone to help you. This isn’t just about getting it built, but having their expertise in thinking about how your site could be planned well, navigated easily and meet the needs of your audience.
- Make It functional– these days, most people access the web through their phones, but many people also have limited data. Ensure your website isn’t hard to load, and that information works on mobiles.
- Make it attractive. It’s better to have two or three good photos that illustrate your work and tell your story than many bad ones.
- Make sure you have the passwords! It’s very obvious, but many NGOs have a website made for them, and never know their own website passwords and hosting information. You need this, both for security and for your ability to maintain it in future.
- Link to social media. It can be much easier to update social media as everyone knows how to use it! Link your youth club’s social media channels to your website, and use this to share photos and updates on your past and upcoming events.
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