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Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Charity website tips - Accepting donations online

Donations are key for every charity, and in the 21st century accepting donations online is just as important. Accepting online donations isn't always that straight forward though, as there are considerable security implications that have to be considered, and different organisations that have to be involved such as banks and payment processing providers.

For small charities there are too many hurdles involved in setting everything up from scratch, which is where services such as Just Giving and Virgin Money Giving are ideal. While there are some setup charges, and limited customisation and integration options, these services allow you to take donations without worrying about the technicalities.

The next step up is to make use of a service such as PayPal as this service is relatively low cost, yet still allows a good amount of flexibility and integration options. Registered charities get large discounts on the payment processing fees through PayPal and there are no standing fees for their standard service. PayPal allows even smaller charities the ability to create flexible and complex payment integration facilities if they are prepared to put the effort into website development work.

The final step for most charities is to move to their own Internet merchant account, with a payment service provider. In some cases these may be provided by the same company. Any bank can provide the Internet merchant account however there can be some hurdles with applications, especially for small or new charities. You then also need the facilities of a payment service provider to handle the payments. Many of these services out the payment pages for you, to handle much of the security aspects, however some allow closer integration. Services such as SagePay, WorldPay and Secure Trading are well known in this area.

Adept are experienced in designing and building websites for charities, both straight forward sites and complex bespoke solutions. Our team of experts are fully versed in developing and running such websites through many years (and decades in some cases) of experience. For advice or to discuss an upcoming project you are considering please get in touch on 01603 340 750.

Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Charity Web Tip - Effective Social Media for Charities

The benefits of social media for any organisation are often discussed at great length, which in turn encourages more organisations to feel they need to be doing it. This applies as much, if not more so to charities, who see social media as a way to increase support and exposure while decreasing marketing costs.

If you have the time and resources to devote to social media you can see great rewards. Facebook and Twitter are used by many organisations to effectively market to their supporters and potential supporters.

Before you jump straight in, here are some things to consider:

What are your competitors doing?

Every organisation, even charities should be able to identify competitors, or other organisations who market to a similar audience. Look at what social media platforms they are using and what sort of response they get to their content.

Which platform is right for you?

Everyone jumps on Facebook and Twitter, which are the most popular social media networks at the moment, but are these tools appropriate for the type of communications you want to have. Consider whether email marketing or a forum/message board would be more suitable.

Who is your target audience?

You need to have an audience in mind for you social media efforts. Think about how you are going to attract this audience, and whether they are an appropriate demographic for the platforms you have in mind. (For example, Twitter is widely used by younger people, but not so much by older people, who are you marketing to?)

Have a plan?

Effective use of social media doesn’t just happen. Someone in your charity needs to be in charge of monitoring and maintaining pages and posting content to keep your users engaged. Consider how often you want to post, what content your charity has that is appropriate and who actually has the time to do all this.

How will you measure success?

Often simple metrics like “Number of followers on Twitter” are seen as good measurements of success, but does this really fall in line with your charities goals. Having followers or members on a social media platform means nothing if they don’t engage with you, or take action that actually supports your charity such as making a donation or getting involved with an event.

In Summary

Don’t be scared! Social media is difficult to get right, but easy to get started with, and you’ll learn as you go along. If you have the time available to make social media a priority you can make effective use of the tools available.

If you’d like to discuss social media in more depth give us a call and we’d be happy to discuss your options with you, and help you to develop a suitable social media plan.

Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Top 5 website security tips

1. Keep your software up-to-date

This is especially important if you are using an open source CMS, but is equally important with any software. If new releases of your CMS are available, they probably contain security fixes for new vulnerabilities. If you aren’t up-to-date, someone may try to hack your website.

Don’t just think about your CMS though, are you also using a blog or any plug-ins? These also need to be kept updated, as these are often the cause of security issues. Bespoke code written by inexperienced developers can often be the cause of major security holes that you are completely unaware of until they become a major embarrassment.

2. Your security is only as strong as your password

Avoid using real/dictionary words as a password. Try to include numbers or non-alphabet characters in your passwords where possible.

Never use a word that is on your website as a password, bots will scan your site and try them when they try to crack your password. Simply replacing one or two characters with numbers will merely slow a bot down  a little, especially if you do the obvious (eg password to pa55w0rd). Longer passwords are much more secure against brute force attacks than shorter ones, 9 characters or more is best.

And finally, it shouldn’t be necessary to say this, but I can tell you from experience with clients it is, never use “password” as your password!

3. Keep your password secret and change your password regularly

If you are in any doubt that someone might know your password, change it straight away. When an employee leaves your organisation make sure you reset any passwords they had access to or cancel their named accounts. Even if you parted on good terms, make sure you do this for good measure.

4. Use anti-virus

A virus on your computer can track everything you type and report it back to a hacker. Make sure you don’t get infected by having a good antivirus program installed at all times, and keep it up to date.

5. If you can’t do it well yourself, rely on a professional

While it can be tempting to try to save money by managing the hosting of your website yourself, or managing your own blog or CMS updates, it can often be much more complex than you imagine. Do you take regular backups? Do these include your databases? Do you know where to get updates from for the 20 plugins your CMS has? Do you have the ability to restore your website if something does go wrong?

If you aren’t confident you have the necessary knowledge to keep your website safe, rely on the services of a professional. Your website development company should be able to provide these services to you. This is certainly worth the small extra investment; you’ll wish you did when something goes wrong!

At Adept, we ensure our clients are always up to date with the latest version of the SmartWeb CMS, including all the latest updates and security features. This service is included in our hosting service at no extra cost. We take security seriously, and enforce the use of secure passwords wherever possible, and thoroughly check the work we produce before launch to ensure that as many avenues as possible are covered. For more information on any of these services please contact us on 01603 340 750.


Posted by

Dan Gothard

Operations Director

Charity website tips – Consistency with offline materials

For most charities, your website is often the first thing visitors will see of your organisation. Not only does your website want to portray a positive image of your charity it is essential that it matches your other promotional materials so that visitors recognise your charity.

While this applies to simple things like your logo and colour schemes, there are also many other aspects that effect your recognisability. Consistent photo styles, image styles and fonts are also important as these all help to portray a sense of a professional organisation.

This consistency in design is often lost when a specialist website developer is brought in to create the website, who doesn’t have the backing of trained design staff. By mixing our team of creative designers with our experienced development team, Adept ensure that the impact of your brand isn't lost when taken online.