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VOL. 127 | NO. 88 | Friday, May 04, 2012

Pearl and Mel Shaw

Are Websites Still in Vogue?

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In the world of Facebook and Twitter we sometimes forget the value of the trusted website. Can’t we say it all in 140 characters? Or a photo? Will the website go the way of the covered wagon?

We were at the Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence Conference “Powerful Networks: Nonprofits, Social Media & Community” this week and attended John Kenyon’s workshops. He set us straight. Kenyon is the Educational Program Manager for the Nonprofit Technology Network, NTEN (www.nten.org).

“While online communication tools are valuable, you need one place where you can provide your constituents with both high level and in-depth content and communication. You can tease them with tidbits on Twitter and tantalize them with photos on Facebook, but your website is where they come to get the full scoop. And to donate!”

He opened with the basics, asking “What are the search terms someone would use to try and find your organization if they didn’t know you exist?” Good question. Write down the phrases. Google them. See if your organization comes up. As you add content to your website be sure to include those phrases (in a natural way!).

Here’s another great point. For most organizations people are the No. 1 asset. No. 2 is data. Think about it. Where would your organization be without data regarding people served, program outcomes, donor names, board member email addresses and other “inconsequential” things like that? Here’s the question John asked, “Does your budgeting reflect the value of data to your organization? Does it even come close to doing so?”

Something to think about.

Here are a few more tidbits: When you are conducting a fundraising campaign make sure it is highlighted on your homepage. Every page on your website should have two items: a Donate Now button and a Subscribe button. Ask everyone you communicate with “What is your preferred method of communication?” Then act on that information. For people who like e-communication, go that route. For those who want to receive a print copy of your newsletter, get one to them! The last tidbit: four things your website should do: build credibility and engage; cultivate; provide “clickability” or interactivity; and provide regularly updated content.

Finally, let us close with our new favorite quote, “Don’t make me hunt for it!”

Kenyon emphasized that all sites must have a search function. Again, on every page! We must admit to being offenders. John poked fun at us, saying “Your site and blog are so content rich, but how can anyone find what they are looking for??!!?” Our takeaway: we are getting search buttons for our website and blog. Ah, we all have something to learn!

You can reach John at john@nten.org or follow him on twitter @jakenyon.

Mel and Pearl Shaw are the owners of Saad & Shaw. They help nonprofit organizations and institutions rethink revenue sources. They are the authors of “How to Solicit a Gift: Turning Prospects into Donors.” Visit them at www.saadandshaw.com or call 522-8727.

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