A Technological Leap Forward to Build a Better Sussex

Sussex Community Foundation Website Homepage Screenshot

Sussex Community Foundation

Sussex Community Foundation was inspired by a tradition that began 100 years ago in the United States. Originating from the desire of investment bankers to give back, community foundations became a popular model that made its way to the UK by the 1980s, and proliferated in the 1990s.

The Duke of Richmond, known for his ownership of Goodwood and his socially-conscious family, saw a gap in Sussex. Particularly concerned about Bognor Regis, one of the country's poorest areas, he spearheaded the Foundation by initially investing his own money and rallying support from local businesses. 

The first steering group included organisational leaders who were passionate about making a difference. Kevin Richmond, appointed in 2006 and with a background in the charity sector, became the Foundation's Chief Executive. 

The charity's aim was to bridge the gap between wealthy donors and impactful local charities, serving as a trusted advisor to both sides - and today this is still the case. At the core, they are a grassroots funder committed to transforming lives by facilitating philanthropy.

"Sussex Community Foundation is a registered charity that exists to make Sussex a fairer and more equal place. We do this by enabling local people to support local causes, making grants to small charities and voluntary groups working in communities across Sussex”

The Challenge

The Foundation's website, a vital component to support outreach and engagement, had served them well but was ripe for revitalisation to match their ambitious new strategy and rebranding effort. It needed to become a more accessible, efficient, and coherent platform that could effectively bridge the diverse needs of prospects, philanthropists, professional advisors and grant applicants alike. 

The challenges were multifaceted, spanning from the technical - like enhancing mobile optimisation, interactive maps and accessibility controls, to the strategic - creating content coherence across the platform and increasing transparency around the impact of donations.

The Approach

To design and develop a site that Sussex Community Foundation would be proud of, we needed to build a comprehensive understanding of their unique position in the community and the diverse needs of their audience. Recognising the importance of a website that could effectively communicate the Foundation's mission, facilitate philanthropy, and showcase the impact of their work, we entered into the discovery phase.

Web Discovery

We meticulously mapped out all requirements and expectations. This foundational stage allowed us to gain a profound understanding of the Foundation's operational nuances and its stakeholders' diverse needs. With this detailed insight, we created a set of concise user stories for the design and development team to follow in design and build phases.

Design and User Experience

Guided by the Foundation's newly established brand guidelines, our design team set out to create a website that would connect with the target audiences and provide a seamless and intuitive user experience. We developed tailored user journeys for the Foundation's varied audience segments, including philanthropists, local organisations seeking grants, professional advisors and prospective audiences. Special attention was given to crafting these pathways to ensure they were navigable, meaningful and engaging.

A pivotal element in demonstrating the Foundation's impact was the development of an interactive map. This feature dynamically showcases the geographical distribution of grants and the profound impact these contributions have made across Sussex. It stands as a testament to the tangible difference the Foundation and its donors are making in the community.

Building on WordPress

With it being highly important to the charity to have a reliable and scalable platform, we built the new website on WordPress. This choice provided the flexibility and robustness needed to meet the Foundation's brief and ensured they had the right level of freedom to update the site moving forward. We also facilitated the domain and SEO migration from "sussexgiving.org" to "sussexcommunityfoundation," - hosting the new site with WPEngine

Accessibility and Responsiveness

Inclusivity and accessibility were paramount. We implemented additional accessibility controls, catering to users with disabilities, and ensured the website's design was fully responsive. This provided an optimal viewing experience across all devices.

Journey Mapping

We recommended pathways through which individuals and organisations could easily find their way to content that connected with them. Whether it was learning about the charity's core funding priorities, applying for grants, gaining philanthropic advice or becoming friends of the charity.

The Outcome

The launch of the new Sussex Community Foundation website marks a significant milestone in the Foundation's storied history. Not only has the website made an impact with the Foundation's community, but has also helped to raise the standard for how local philanthropy can be showcased and supported online.  As the Foundation continues to support the wider community, its new website will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in inspiring and facilitating local giving, today and for generations to come.

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