Website content strategy for charities and membership organisations

Website content strategy that leads to action

This post helps you determine a clear content strategy for your website. By reading the post and using the free template you will end up with a clear plan for how to structure the content on your website so that it achieves your broader goals.

The first section of the post will help you definte these key areas of your content strategy:

  • Target audience groups
  • Website objectives
  • Visitor actions

With that in place, you will then be able to draft the sitemap structure for the key pages on your website with a focus on how your audience will use your website to help you meet your objectives by taking certain actions.

To make this process easier we have included a free downloadable template. Just follow the guidance in this post and fill in the sections in the template as you go.

For illustration purposes we will provide examples throughout the post. These will focus on the needs of a typical membership organisation but the principles apply to many charities and other similar organisations.

We've created a downloadable template to accompany this guide.

Define your target audience groups

It’s important to define your target audience groups in order to ensure that you communicate effectively to the right people through your website. There will be lots of different types of visitors to your site but you should identify the most important audiences and optimise the user experience for them.

Most membership organisations are primarily interested in two key audience groups.

  • Potential members
  • Current members

There may also be other audience groups that come into contact with your website that you want to include in your content plan.

Examples of other audience groups include the following.

  • Potential donors
  • Event attendees
  • Fundraisers
  • Potential partners
  • Commissioning bodies
  • Trusts and foundations
  • Volunteers
  • Job seekers
  • Staff

The first key challenge is to take this list, shorten it, and list the remaining groups in priority order. Your website will inevitably work better for some groups than others. By thinking this through thoroughly, before defining your content structure, you can ensure that the right people are prioritised.

Define your website objectives

Where possible, define specific and measurable objectives that will help you assess your website’s performance. Even if you don't intend to measure these precisely, this will add clarity to your content strategy. If content on your website is not contributing to meeting your objectives you might consider removing it or demoting its priority within the sitemap.

Examples of specific and measurable website objectives include the following:

  • 30 new online newsletter sign ups per month
  • 20 new enquiries about membership per month
  • 12 new online membership signups per month

Another set of objectives to consider relate to saving admin time. It can be harder to set numerical targets for these objectives but they are still valid and may be measurable to some extent.

Examples of time-saving objectives include the following:

  • Minimise the need to manually add contacts to the database.
  • Minimise the need to manually update people's contact details.
  • Maximise the number of members paying by Direct Debit.
  • Maximise the opportunity for members to find each others details.

In relation to each audience group, take some time to write down the most important objectives for your website. Check that where possible they are measurable. 

Define the actions you want people to take

To ensure your website meets your objectives, the necessary actions must be very easy for website visitors to take. If a website visitor must burrow deep into your website or find an obscure link they are likely to give up. What are these key actions? If a visitor only does one thing on your website, what should it be? The website content, structure and design should be tailored towards prioritising these actions.

Examples of actions that will help meet the above objectives include the following.

  • Become a member
  • Sign up to the newsletter
  • Book onto our annual conference
  • Update your contact details

For each audience group and objective, take some time to write down the key action(s) on your website that will lead to the objective being met. 

A complete example

Here is a complete example of how an organisation might define their audience groups, objectives and actions. The downloadable template provides a table like this one for you to fill in.

Audience Objectives Actions
  • Prospective members
  • 30 new online newsletter sign ups per month
  • 20 new enquiries about membership per month
  • 12 new online membership signups per month
  • Get 70% of members on Direct Debit
  • Sign up to the newsletter
  • Contact us
  • Become a member
  • Set up a Direct Debit
  • Current members
  • 200 delegates to our annual conference
  • 30 people to each of our monthly workshops
  • 600 publication downloads to per month
  • Avoid admins manually update contact details
  • Book onto the conference
  • Book onto the workshop
  • Download the publication
  • Update your details

Structure your sitemap

Your website sitemap is a hierarchical structure of all the pages on your website. A good sitemap provides simple navigation tools and helps guide users towards the actions you want them to take. Here is an example sitemap.

Header menu Actions
  • Signpost to become a member
  • Signpost to upcoming events


  • Our work
  • About membership
  • Meet the team
  • Policies


  • Signpost to 'Partner with us'
  • Signpost to 'Become a member'
  • Signpost to 'Volunteer'
  • Signpost to 'Publications'
  • Booking form for each event
  • Signpost to 'Tell us about your event' form
  • Signpost to 'Subscribe to the newsletter' form

Member area

  • Directory
  • Forum
  • Journal
  • Event materials


  • Signpost to 'Update your contact details'
  • Signpost to 'Invite someone to join'
  • Download the journal
  • Download/share event materials


  • Volunteer
  • Training
  • Skillshare
  • Working groups
  • Partner with us
  • Jobs board


  • Volunteer enquiry form
  • Browse upcoming training workshop events
  • Enquiry form for joining skillshare programme
  • Enquiry form for joining a working group
  • Enquiry form to partner with us
  • Application form for jobs
Join now
  • List of membership plans to choose form
  • Join now and pay by Direct Debit

The header menu is the place for most important page. Other pages can be placed in the footer menu which is accessible across the site. Here is an example of a footer menu.

Footer menu Actions
  • General enquiry form to get in touch
  • Sign up to our newsletter form
  • Signpost to 'Become a member' to access the journal
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14 October 2016