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Ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, I’ve been involved with nonprofits.
As a kid, I would tag along with my mom as she volunteered for one nonprofit after another—it was just a part of life. As an adult, I’ve maintained that commitment to help make the world a better place. I may be a CEO in my day job, but I feel very at home in the nonprofit sector.
And this is why I feel comfortable shooting straight with you about this particular point:
Most organizations need some help when it comes to nonprofit websites.
Even in 2014, many nonprofits are struggling to find their best foot online. In fact, when it comes to the internet, some barely have their foot in the door.
This is largely due to the fact that when nonprofits try to establish an online presence, they take what they can get for the least amount of money.
I understand that it might seem like a win-win to hire a struggling computer science major who builds nonprofit websites for a six-pack and a case of Ramen noodles. But I would pose the question, is that your best foot?
I’ve been a computer geek since high school. I have been called upon to be “the tech guy” many times—and I appreciated each and every six-pack and bowl of Ramen noodles I received. But the problem with your nonprofit using a go-to geek to build your website is that eventually, in spite of their noble intentions, your go-to geek is going to be gone.
Life happens. People graduate from college, they change careers, have babies, go down different paths. Even if you use an in-house geek to build your site, eventually he or she will likely move on. Then you hire a new go-to geek and show them your website. She takes one look and says, “Great, I like this, this and this about it. But to be honest, I think we ought to do this, that and the other thing.”
See the problem? If that happens every 18 to 24 months, you end up in this never-ending cycle of change in how you organize your nonprofit’s technology and web presence. That becomes an issue. If you’re in a constant state of flux, you never establish a solid online presence. And this in turn affects your relationships and communication with your volunteers, supporters and constituents.
There’s a way around this, and the bottom line is, you have to aim for quality and consistency. Say “thanks, but no thanks” to go-to geeks and invest in technology that will allow you to update, modify and evolve your website and its content—with point and click simplicity. This will put you light years ahead of where many nonprofits are still struggling, and give you a solid online presence.
I love my fellow geeks. Most have hearts of gold and just want to help. But when it comes to nonprofit websites, it’s like the old fishing parable with a twist:
Give a nonprofit a website and you’ll feed them for day, but give a nonprofit the tools to evolve their own site and you’ll feed them for a lifetime.
Be sure to check out our other online best practices for nonprofits.