Ask Nancy Our Org Wants to Launch a Web Site wo Much Time or Expertise. Where Do We Start
Dear Nancy,

I am a member of a small non-profit organization for the deaf, and we're now embarking on building our first-ever Web site.

With tight funding, few available hours and little expertise, where's the best place to start?

We're looking for a launch pad that doesn't require too much of an initial outlay but is designed to evolve as does our understanding, needs, content and expertise. It would also be nice if the web can be easily modified by our members to post various events.

Thank you,
Bill Dukarski
GGRAD/HH (Greater Grand Rapids Association of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing)


Dear Bill,

First of all, let me commend you for your realism and focus. You know what you need now, and what your organization can invest. That understanding is THE critical first step!

Your challenge is avoiding a static, unchanging, old-fashioned site for your organization when there are these significant limitations on your time, effort, and/or expertise generally required to create and maintain a dynamic site. You'll need a set up that is easy to build, launch and provides some support — all at a reasonable cost.

I'm happy to say I have a clear recommendation for you — Nonprofit Soapbox. Soapbox is a content management system (CMS, a what-you-see-is-what-you-get content editing tool) that will enable GGRAD/HH to build and grow an engaging, dynamic site without the headache. In fact, anyone who can use Microsoft Word can create and run a web site.

What's great is that the Soapbox folks are expert in working with orgs tight on time, budget and know-how. And they've set up a process that works for them, and for their clients. If you end up needing more help, let's say in strategy or graphic design, you can purchase those services on an as-needed basis at a reasonable cost.

So get in touch with Nonprofit Soapbox, Bill. Then please email me and let me know how it goes. I'll share your experience with Getting Attention readers facing the same challenges.

All the best,

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every nonprofit Web site! Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, Ask Nancy, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources | 10 comments
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Pull Your Base into Your Org for Powerful Marketing (and More) -- Carnival of Nonprofit ConsultantsThis is it. The boiled-down, essential, greatest potential takeaway I have from the Nonprofit Technology Conference
is the value of
imperative for nonprofit marketers to fully involve our bases in our organizations.

It’s not just about Web 2.0, social marketing gewgaws, getting attention, or capitalizing on our constituencies’ (external audiences, partners, boards, colleagues or…) creativity or intellects to create high-impact content. The whole dynamic has shifted, and you have to embrace it.

Here’s confirmation and some exciting models:

  • ServingYouth’s Amy Jussel is passionate about engaging communities in program design and content creation. She points to HopeLab’s global idea competition to get kids exercising as a great example. Contests are definitely a great way to crowdsource (get ideas from the field) and get your audiences involved and excited.
  • I just love this one! Joanne Fritz recommends Peter Shankman’s matchmaking service to connect journalists expert sources like you. Jump onto Shankman’s Help a Reporter today to register for this no-charge, grassroots version of ProfNet.
  • Ashoka intern David Stoker points to the power of an engaged citizen base, as outlined in this great overview from Ahshoka’s Citizen Base Initiative.
    • “…That a nonprofit can engage a community like a church or sports team does is very interesting. Team fans do all sorts of crazy things: sacrifice large amounts of their time and money, and more.  And what they get in return is much more complex than ‘entertainment’.  The idea that a nonprofit can engage its community in a way that satisfies similar needs is exciting, and seeing so many examples [in this paper] of creative ways orgs are already doing so intrigues me,” says Stoker.

I couldn’t have said it better myself, David. Don’t wait till your base goes elsewhere; remember, loyalty is to issues, not to organizations. Open up your arms today.

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing.You’ll get first access to research like this, plus other coverage to ensure marketing impact.

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Citizen Participation/Crowdsourcing, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy, Trends | 0 comments

Your Org's Base is Most Vital Nonprofit Marketing Power You Have -- Pull Your Peeps In, NowThis is it.

The boiled-down, most essential, most vibrant, most potential (you can sing that) takeaway I have from the NTC Conference is the value of imperative for nonprofit marketers to fully engage our citizen bases, aka crowdsourcing. It’s not just about Web 2.0, social marketing gewgaws, getting attention, or capitalizing on our constituencies (and that can mean external audiences, partners, boards, colleagues or…) their creativity or intellects to create high-impact content.

They are you and you are them, or not (and that’s trouble). The whole dynamic has shifted, and you have to get with it. This is the natural continuum of ceding control of our brands — ala Everybody’s Talking About You–Why Your Nonprofit Needs to Listen, and Listen Hard, and we’ve moved ahead very quickly.  Now it’s clear that proactivity is key to growing and strengthening your org. Don’t wait till you have no other choice.

Read my posts from the 08NTC (Nonprofit Technology Conference) for several inspiring models and hands-on how-tos. Then get to work, today.

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing.You’ll get first access to research like this, plus other coverage to ensure marketing impact.

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, Branding and Messages, Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants, Citizen Participation/Crowdsourcing, Nonprofit Communications, Social Networking, Trends, Web 2.0 | 0 comments

Guiding CASA New Orleans Towards a More Effective Web Site -- NTC Day of ServiceOne 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.

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing.You’ll get first access to research like this, plus other coverage to ensure marketing impact.

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments

Nonprofits Filling Govt Gaps to Help Still-Recovering New Orleans HoodsYesterday I took an incredibly compelling, dismaying yet somehow hopeful tour of four areas still devastated by Hurricane Katrina — Gentilly, the 9th Ward, St. Bernard Parish (where only 5 homes remained in the county post storm) and Lakeview. 2 1/2 years post-Katrina, these areas remain blighted with huge expanses of open land where homes were torn down, dead trees and other storm debris never removed and street lights are still out. More photos here.

The media doesn’t broadcast Katrina images anymore, but these stories are here. Many of them. Grocery stores just reopened in three of these areas, with residents crying with joy in the aisles. Imagine 2 1/2 years without a grocery store nearby. The post office in Lakeview just re-opened earlier this month.

As you know, the federal government failed to provide the help that New Orleans and surrounds needs. What’s incredible, and what I didn’t know, is how nonprofits have stepped up to fill the gaps, trying to build a better city, not just the same city. Here are some of the projects I saw during yesterday’s tour:

Nonprofits Filling Govt Gaps to Help Still-Recovering New Orleans Hoods 1Barnes and Noble Chairman Leonard Riggio’s family foundation just committed $20 million to building homes for low-income families through a newly created nonprofit development arm, Project Home Again (PHA). The new homes are for those who lost theirs as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The pilot will build 20 wind-resistant homes in Gentilly, to offered at no cost via lottery to eligible families willing to swap their damaged homes or vacant lots, where PHA will build another hurricane-proof home.

Nonprofits Filling Govt Gaps to Help Still-Recovering New Orleans Hoods 2The grassroots Beacon of Hope Resource Center provides services key to daily living for residents in three of these areas. Services are practical and much-needed, ranging from acting as a communication link between city agencies in restoring services and utilities such as mail delivery, electricity, sewerage and water, and vetting home repair vendors from structural engineers to mold remediators. This is a huge help when insurers are requiring policy holders to get three or more valid estimates for every necessary repair. The trailer at left holds washers and dryers available to residents still doing without.

Nonprofits Filling Govt Gaps to Help Still-Recovering New Orleans Hoods 3The self-organized City Park Mowrons are New Orleans residents who stepped forward to help the 30 (of 260 pre-Katrina) remaining employees restore and maintain this famed park. They mow, weed and plant this city haven which served as a post-Katrina camping ground for refugees.

These are just a few of the many nonprofits helping New Orleans come back to life. I’m hugely moved and impressed by the creativity, energy, focus and generosity of the people behind these initiatives who have stepped up to the plate, and are making a huge difference to residents and and their institutions and communities still striving to rebuild.

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing.You’ll get first access to research like this, plus other coverage to ensure marketing impact.

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, Creative Partnering, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches, Volunteers | 0 comments

Beam Me Up, Scottie--Already Discovered a Mind-blowing Communications Tool At Nonprofit Technology ConferenceArrived in New Orleans to balmy breezes and a surprisingly robust scene — lots of tourists strolling around, lots of biz conferences in play. According to another Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) attendee, this is a huge change from just a year ago. I’m so glad to see it.

What’s strange is that in the French Quarter — which adjoins the conference hotel — you can barely see a sign of Katrina, other than a mention here or there. I hope to have a chance to travel out to the 9th ward and St. Bernard Parish later today to see the real story.

Great Conference Design — Helps Nonprofit Attendees Make Wonderful Connections
This conference seems marvelously designed to facilitate connections, not just the traditional conference us-to-them type learning. Last night I ate with a bunch of folks who are helping local nonprofits in this morning’s Day of Service. My partner Roshani Kothari of OneWorld.net and I will help guide the Common Ground Clinic to integrate its offline and online communications efforts for higher-impact marketing.
More on that later.

Incredible, Free, Easy-to-Use Tool for Filming Quick Videos — With Your Cell Phone– That Automatically Stream to Your Blog, Web Site or a News Venue:  QIK
Over dinner (remember there are some real geeks here, who can’t take a minute away from the latest and greatest tech tools — but we need them), Chris Parandian of MobileFuture.Org videoed the lively conversation and showed us how it works.

Here are some ways you can put live to work, simply, easily and cheaply:

  • Interview key players in your issue arena at legislative sessions, protests or community meetings.
  • Play investigative journalist and show what shouldn’t be happening. Think humane society capturing the inhumane treatment of the cattle in Texas recently.
  • Capture imagery, conversations or happenings where ever you are to share live with external audiences or with your colleagues in an internal blog or wiki. Or even news from the field when you’re out with a grantee, program staff or at a conference.
    • Sometimes nothing’s better than seeing something live (I love to photograph great nonprofit marketing when I see it, and this kind of capture will make the outtake to you even stronger when there’s action involved).
  • And, of course, live stream whatever you take for external audiences to your Web site home page or blog.   

Just remember, you don’t want to go more than a minute or two with these.

Right now the QIK service is free, as long as you have the right cell phone and data service plan from your provider. Jump on it, experiment with it and share it with your colleagues. This has a lot of potential.

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing.You’ll get first access to research like this, plus other coverage to ensure marketing impact.

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, Mobile Tools, Nonprofit Communications, Video, Web 2.0 | 1 comment

Why I'm Going to the NTEN Conference -- And You (And All Nonprofit Marketers) Should TooLast winter, when the folks at NTEN (Nonprofit Technology Network) asked me to present at their annual spring conference, I couldn’t do so due to a long-scheduled client meeting. Beyond that, I just didn’t see a strong match between my marketing focus and the tech folks who would be in attendance.

Was I wrong! Mea culpa.

This year I know more, and I’ll be live blogging from the NTEN Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), March 19-21, in New Orleans. Here’s why I’m going, and why you and your colleagues in nonprofit marketing should too, in the words of Holly Ross, NTEN’s ED:

1) Communications and technology are two parts of a whole.
"A good story lies at the core of every effective communication.  But the ways in which we can share those stories, and empower our stakeholders to tell their stories, have exploded in the last few years — all fueled by technology. At the NTC, we explore the myriad ways the communications are empowered by technology – from email newsletters to social networking strategies, and how communicators and technologists working together (or one person with both skill sets) can generate huge impact."

2) NTC is more than a conference; it’s a gateway to colleagues whom you’ll connect with, learn from and want to keep in touch with. 
"The conference isn’t just a bunch of panels. You’ll meet more people with more ideas, energy and answers than you ever have before. NTC offers an opportunity to build and maintain a real community of peers for long term professional development and support. 

You can volunteer at the Day of Service, attend Affinity Group meetings, discuss important topics at birds of a feather tales at lunch, or join other marketing folks for a small group dinner.  We want our attendees to CONNECT, LEARN and CHANGE the world."

3) You get access to top-notch industry experts who care about, and understand,
the nonprofit dynamic. 

"For example, folks from Google will be talking
about their free tools for nonprofits like Apps, Analytics, and the
Google Grants AdWords program."

Don’t stop there. Here’s another huge benefit of attending NTC pointed out by my friend Michael Hoffman of See 3 Communications:

"Technology used to mean backend. Databases. Tracking donors, tracking clients served, etc. All the stuff you needed but didn’t want to think about. Today, tech means those things plus blogging and social networking, online video and fundraising, and personalized content.

So what was once the domain of geeks and coders is now the domain of us marketers and fundraisers. But we still need those geeks — to make our databases talk to each other, to program our sites and  connect our front end (Web sites) to our backend (donor and member databases.)

The NTC used to be the place where all the techies came together. Today, it’s those folks AND us —  those working on the conversation side of communications and fundraising. The bloggers, social media marketers, online video folks, and anyone interested in using Web technologies to attract, engage and motive nonprofit audiences. Having both groups in one place is a huge benefit — we usually don’t speak to each other, or at least not in the same language."

Register for the NTC today. Special discount available till February  29th.

Missing out on the Getting Attention e-newsletter? Subscribe now for in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing.

Nancy Schwartz in 08NTC, Nonprofit Communications, Nonprofit Marketing News, Professional Development | 1 comment

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