How Transform Foundation's 18k website grant can help your charity

Third Sector Promotion Transform Foundation

We sat down with Transform Foundation chief executive, Nick Scott, to hear about its £18,000 website grant for charities, how you can apply and how it has helped successful applicants ramp up their fundraising efforts and increase their impact

Third Sector promotion

Eight key points from Transform Foundation's chief executive 
on its website funding programme

The Transform Foundation is currently accepting applications for the summer/autumn round of its 2018 Charity Website Grant programme.

To provide more background, we spoke to Transform Foundation chief executive, Nick Scott, to find out more about the Transform Foundation and its website grant programme.

We help small and medium-sized charities transform their digital presence. We see ourselves as the "charity’s charity", enabling them to reach more people, raise more funds and serve their donors better.

We offer a range of tech grants that charities can use to make a step change to their website, and then across all their digital fundraising channels.

Community groups, mental health and animal welfare charities have all come to us for help. Many have enjoyed impressive results after embracing digital; in some cases seeing their revenues leap from tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The £18,000 website grant covers the strategy, design, build, content, training, quality assurance and launch of a new mobile-optimised website, with sophisticated marketing, fundraising, appeals, social media, e-commerce and website management tools.

It covers 100 per cent of the website design and build costs. Successful applicants just need to agree to cover the website’s ongoing costs for a minimum of 12 months. The websites will be built by Raising IT, which is a technology partner for the programme.

Charities with limited digital expertise will receive training during the process. In addition to the strategy sessions – which provide training on formulating a digital strategy for the website – successful applicants also receive training on how to manage and update content on their website on an ongoing basis. The aim is to equip them with the skills and confidence they need to keep the website responsive and dynamic.

A charity’s digital presence is now central to almost every component of what it does. Websites are so much more than a shop window and are frequently essential in service delivery, as they enable the charity’s beneficiaries to get a more interactive and tailored experience.

A website that is well linked to social media channels is also vital for raising awareness of your cause, while online channels are proving increasingly vital for raising awareness, especially among young people.

It’s critical that charities have a website that is not just mobile optimised but mobile first. More than 60 per cent of online traffic now comes via mobile or tablet and, more importantly, studies have shown that donors are 34 per cent less likely to donate to a site that is not easy to navigate on a mobile device.

Too many charity websites are designed from a desktop perspective in terms of user journeys and simply "mobile optimise" by making the site shrink down for mobile devices. It is vital instead to take a "mobile first" approach where all the user journeys are considered from a mobile perspective right from the beginning of the design process.

Recipients are seeing impressive results. They are seeing the value that having a really effective website brings to their fundraising power and it has encouraged them to invest further in digital, which is one of our aims.

Previous Charity Website Grant recipients have achieved some very impressive results, generating millions of pounds in extra donations with their enhanced websites.

One of the best examples is the Alzheimer’s charity BRACE which increased online donations eightfold from £25 a day to over £200 a day, with its website helping it raise more than £60,000 in first year alone.

This accounted for more than 7.5 per cent of its total charitable income (up from just 1 per cent prior to the website being built). It also increased website users by 82 per cent, page views by 75 per cent and the number of first time visits by 9 per cent.

Another is North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which has been able to use its website to launch several tactical and highly targeted appeals that brought a traditionally hard to fundraise for cause to life.

When it suffered a setback – the vandalism of one of its historic teak carriages – it responded instantly by launching an appeal on its website that raised more than £13,000 in a single day, something it could never have done with the previous digital tools at its disposal. It has since gone on to raise more than £50k through similar online appeals.

In regards to typical profiles of charities that should apply, we typically fund non-profit organisations with income levels of between £350,000 and £10m annually, which are proposing projects that are capable of demonstrating a clear return on investment. We therefore do not fund general awareness-raising campaigns or the marketing of simple information pages.

While we recognise that some organisations are extremely stretched in staff time, we do not fund organisations that do not have the capacity or commitment to put internal resources behind making the project a success.

Our funding is designed to be focused on online marketing expenditure that other funders are often unwilling or unable to fund.

Since our own funding is limited, we seek to ensure that organisations can demonstrate a commitment to fund digital alongside us, and to provide continuation funding where necessary. Our aim is for our charitable resources to create a strategic step change, therefore organisations looking to maintain the status quo, or provide only incremental improvements, should not apply.

Other than the website grant, we are currently running our Facebook Grant, which offers £5000 grants to charities to spend on Facebook marketing campaigns.

Meanwhile, our Charity Incubator programme will provide new charities and other not-for-profit organisations in the UK with a grant of £10,000, six months of office space, legal support and mentorship from some of the UK’s leading social entrepreneurs and technologists.

If you are interested in applying for the grant to redevelop your charity website, you can find out more information and details on how to apply here.

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