6 min read
When a marketing or digital department feels that their under-performing or frustrating website needs replacing, one of the biggest challenges is to convince those who will sign off the necessary funds.
Trustees will, rightly, require a significant amount of information and their questions to be answered before they release budget to design and develop a new website for the charity. Indeed, the management of charity finances and resources is a legal responsibility of theirs.
At this point it's a good idea to produce a business case. This is a document to outline the need for a new website, the benefits of investing in one and recognise risks and explain how they will be mitigated.
While a business case can be viewed almost as an internal sales pitch, it is important to recognise where things might not go according to plan, something a salesperson might not do. By providing all such information, you will be painting the whole picture for trustees rather than just the areas you’re ‘selling’ on.
Your business case document should explain:
We’ve designed a template which you can download and use to complete your business case or as a prompt for information under your own headings.
In the template you will find sections for:
Within the detail of your proposal, you’ll need to lay out the reasons for your recommendation. Think strategically and tactically, and stick to the facts. Relying too heavily on personal opinion is unlikely to get you the outcome you want; avoid getting into areas which can be classed as subjective, for instance design.
You should address areas such as what a new website would allow the charity to achieve. For example, allowing you to connect remotely with service users and therefore laying the foundations to broaden your geography, increase revenue through a stronger donation experience, and improve staff productivity by improving the back-end system, therefore freeing up time to devote to other tasks.
And tactical areas such as improving all-round visitor metrics and integrations with other internal systems, such as a CRM, which will lead to efficiency gains and deeper connection with supporters.
When it comes to the evidence to use, you’ll have plenty at your fingertips. Align these with your key reasons for a new site, for example take a look at:
Also consider using case studies, from staff who are expected to update your website, users, volunteers and other stakeholders. Again, stick to how the existing site is affecting them and avoid subjective comments:
Remember that you’re selling the need and benefits of a project which costs money initially but will provide a longer-term benefit. It therefore requires a significant amount of time and effort.
Begin with the premise that the response is going to be ‘no’, then consider why the answer would be no - what are the concerns that trustees will have? Getting to the root of these will help you tailor your business case to acknowledge those concerns, understand them, and then consider how your case addresses them and ultimately provides a positive outcome.
You will most likely have some specific perceived risks within your own organisation, but here are some more generic ones you might need to consider:
Once you’re happy with your evidence and arguments, think about project implementation. At this point, go beyond thinking the answer will be ‘no’ and map out what you will do after a positive response.
Consider putting together a simple project timeline, with key milestones, in a spreadsheet and attach to your document. This shows you’ve gone the extra mile and made a start to implementation.
Bonus tip: There might already be a tacit agreement that a new website is a good move - but don’t allow that to water down your business case. If you can’t provide a compelling argument when trustees are already nearly convinced then it’s even more disheartening than if you’re going in with a ‘cold’ recommendation.