SANGONet was one of the first online services for nonprofits. Who better to develop this award to promote excellence in nonprofit online communications? Winning organizations were chosen on the strength of their online outreach to targeted audiences, rather than a narrowly-focused assessment of the technical and design features of their websites.
What’s especially interesting here is SANGONeT’s focus on publicizing its judging criteria, which serve as guidelines for other nonprofits developing or refining their organizational or campaign websites. The award judging criteria were developed around communication objectives:
- Objective: What is the communication objective of the website?
- Accessibility: Is the language accessible to all targeted audiences?
- Marketing: How does the website engage the first-time visitor?
- Ongoing engagement: How does the website retain the attention of the return visitor, and motive that visitor to act?
- Tone: Does the tone of the language on the website fit with the organization’s voice and effectively reach its audiences?
The judging panel was comprised of online communications specialists from the nonprofit, government and business sectors. Judges were challenged by the diversity of the websites presented to them, finding it challenging to evaluate well- resourced, sophisticated websites versus simpler, more lower budget websites. To address this challenge, the panel developed a weighting system to ensure that small, community-based and rural organisations were able to compete, resulting in winning organizations of diverse sizes and budgets.
The five winning organizations ranged from Engender to Idasa, and the particular strengths of their winning websites are highlighted here.