One of the great innovations of the Nonprofit Technology Conference(NTC) is its matchmaking of conference participants (mostly nonprofit staffers like you, in marketing or technology) with local nonprofits to solve concrete problems. What a great contribution to the community you’re visiting, and a wonderful opportunity for NTC attendees to meet residents in our field (all too often conference attendance takes place in a bubble).
I was lucky enough to be matched with CASA New Orleans, which shepherds children and youth in foster care or group homes through the judicial system. Like many organizations, CASA feels its held hostage by its current Web site (brochure ware, 1995 style), but didn’t have a sense of how to make it better within its limited resources (both $ and the human resource to build and maintain the site).
Partnering with e-communcations expert Norman Reiss in a two-hour mind-meld, I worked with CASA’s Tanya Franklin (pictured above) to get a sense of communications goals (recruit and retain volunteers and donors, and to build general awareness of the org and its value to the NOLA community, and to provide a resource that will address the basic questions asked again and again to the time-strapped staff.
First, we gave Tanya a quick tutorial on what to think about — goals, target audiences, content possibilities, site promotion, etc. We then outlined a next-stage site designed around these features and strategies:
- More timely content that will engage current donors and volunteers to return to the site on a regular basis
- A clearer site architecture that provides a clear way in for each target audience — donors, volunteers, partner orgs — in addition to access to content by type (e.g. success stories, about us).
- Automating functions like event registration with a tool like Acteva or EventBrite
- Repurposing newsletter content (there’s a ton of great articles and news in the last year alone, in the print newsletters for the web, and vice versa
- Transition of one or both of the org’s print newsletters to e-news, driving traffic to site content with a teaser.
We advised Tanya — as I advise you — to stay away from any Web 2.0 tools until CASA has the marketing fundamentals down cold, then wrapped with a quick review of what it’ll take to build this more powerful site, and to keep it going.
Tanya left with a much clearer understanding of the direction forward, and a sense of how to get the resources she needs to make it happen. Couldn’t have spent two hours in a more satisfying way.
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