Explaining the why, what and how of charity

A new website ‘How Charities Work‘ is in beta, set up by NCVO to provide a general background to what charities are all about, the way they operate and the ways people can be involved.

This is aimed at the general public, so no mention of trustees and their usual volunteer status in the intro but they do appear under Accountability, and also getting involved. The Charity Commission gets numerous mentions, but I’ve only spotted one mention of this site being aimed at charities in England and Wales (under ‘what is a charity‘) – the UK gets frequent mentions which could confuse. Some mention of Scottish and Northern Ireland regulators, for instance, wouldn’t go amiss.

It would be nice for the site to have an even simpler structure with less pages coming off the main headings:

  • About Charities
  • Raising and spending money
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Get involved
  • Briefings

But then the charity world isn’t simple. I’m not sure about having Briefings up at that level – “Find out more” perhaps, with a Site Map available too?

So, maybe one or two minor tweaks to go, but not bad. That’s high(ish) praise from an NCVO sceptic!

WordPress gets a charity styled design

Open source web software WordPress, as used here, has just got a new theme (design template) specifically

“for schools, non-profits, and organizations.”

Open source web software WordPress, as used here, has just got a new theme (design template) specifically

“for schools, non-profits, and organizations.”

Created by Automattic, the power behind WordPress, it has useful built-in features which could enable groups to set up a new site very quickly on wordpress.com.

For example

  • a ‘call-to-action’ button in a prominent front page position (with fairly simple way of adding other buttons elsewhere too).
  • ‘testimonials’ content type which could be used to show how charity beneficiaries have been supported or carry volunteers’ stories, for instance.

The theme is called Ixion: see blog announcement or the theme page gives a good overview of its elements (there’s also a demo).

It can be used both on blogs hosted on wordpress.com or a self-hosted site. CharityBlog is showcasing how one self-hosting implementation can look.

(For self-hosted, while Ixion is not yet in the WordPress.org theme directory it can be downloaded, for manual copying to the site, from a link bottom of the theme page’s right-hand column.)

Some notes

Featured content only shows if there an item has a featured image and the item is tagged as ‘featured’ (and you’ll need to set the right tag in the customiser too).

Features like the call-to-function appear by default in the customiser, but if nothing is entered for button text etc, they won’t appear when the theme is ‘activated’.

You can change the number of posts showing on the front page (via customiser or Dashboard Admin > Settings > Reading).

We’re guessing that Ixion largely derives from the new Twenty Seventeen theme introduced with WordPress 4.7 (officially released 6 Dec 2016), the first default theme designed for business websites. Twenty Seventeen has more options so takes more setting up, and no ‘call-to-action’ button.