Monday, August 25, 2008

What Your Strategic Plan and Website Should Have In Common – Each Other!

I blog about strategic planning and technology for nonprofits. Today I want to talk about how they should work together. When in the implementation phase of strategic planning, communicating to all constituencies is very important including using your website to communicate your mission, vision and strategic goals and accomplishments.
Today, I want to suggest you take it a step further. If you are updating your website, integrate your strategic goals into the design of your website.
Let’s take a look at a few examples:

I’ve never worked on a strategic plan where there weren’t fundraising goals, but they are different for each organization. If you want to increase individual giving having a donate button on every page is of course the simplest approach. Read my blog post on summer reading and go to the Donor Digital article for advice on the fine details. If you want to increase grants, you should do your homework about what might help you with your potential funders. Funders will check out your website. Some basics are:
- List your grantors with an optional link to their websites
- Your home page should clearly state your mission.
- Have a page with your strategic plan and goals.
- If you will be making grant requests for a particular program make sure the web information on this project has pictures and updated information.

If advocacy is one of your goals design advocacy into your navigation and have strong tools to support it. Provide brief position papers that your supporters can understand without having to be familiar with all the nuances of the issues. List who you want supporters to write or call. Provide email links so that a message can be sent straight from your website.

If education is one of your goals, include a resource section. This can include information papers, videos, publications for sale and links to other websites.

Program Marketing
Many nonprofits fail to use their website for marketing effectively. Build your navigation so that visitors can clearly see the opportunities. Show the schedule, fees, who to contact for more information, event dates, etc.

Relationship Building
Your website isn’t just about providing information and collecting donations. It is an important tool in relationship building. Keep it fresh and updated. Consider using web tools such as blogging, social media, video and widgets. If one of your goals is to build relationships with the millennium generation, you have to get your feet wet with these approaches.

If volunteers are important to your operation, make sure you feature this section on your website. Keep it updated and feature changing volunteers with a brief bio, what they do when they volunteer and quotes from them about their volunteer experience.

Your strategic plan and your website are both important. They both become more effective and powerful when they work together.

Marion Conway Consulting

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Sizzling Summer Technology Training Offers – Don’t Wait

Before the summer ends check out these great technology training discount offers available right now.

The International Commission on Workforce Development (ICWFD) has teamed with TechSoup Stock to offer discounts on its e-Skills360° computer-based courses in information technology and professional development. Over 500 courses are available from the getting started basics to more advanced topics. These computer based courses can be taken from your workplace or home. Some courses include an exam which if passed a certificate will be issued.

You can purchase a package of 10 registration PIN codes, each of which allows one person to take one of these courses. The same person may take different courses, or different people may take the same course. This 10 course registration costs only $80. This a a great buy with a retail value of $1000.
TechSoup Stock Training

Idealware offers excellent webinars on technology topics for nonprofits at the very reasonable cost of $40. Now through August 22nd you can get recordings on all topics including online donations, eNewsletters, CRM and Web Analytics for only $16 each. With your purchase, you receive unlimited personal access to play back the full audio and video of a recorded live seminar through any Internet browser.

Don’t delay. These are two great opportunities. See you soon….I’m headed over to Idealware right now……
Marion Conway Consulting

Monday, August 04, 2008

What's in a name? Nonprofit? Community Benefit Organization? Independent Sector?

What’s in a name? Lately I have heard a number of leaders in the nonprofit sector take exception to the word “nonprofit.” Linda Czipo, Executive Director of the Center for Nonprofits in New Jersey, talks about the contribution of our sector to NJ’s economy and the need to portray a stronger image that reflects who we are and what we do. She says that we are the only group that defines ourselves by what we do not do rather than what we do do.

Hildy Gottlieb, a leading edge nonprofit consultant and author, says, “Community Benefit is why our organizations are granted tax exemption. Community benefit is what we do. It is our purpose.” She recommends renaming nonprofits community benefit organizations.

The organization dedicated to being a resource and forum on issues for “nonprofits” boldly calls itself Independent Sector. The Annie E. Casey Foundation writes extensively about community building and as a foundation to making the kind of change in people’s lives that nonprofits strive for. I was especially proud of my son when he received an award from a nonprofit called the Community Builder Award for his Eagle Scout project in which he provided 200 sleeping bags for inner city children to take to summer camp.

Guy Kawasaki of Apple fame (It used to be Apple Computer but they changed their name to Apple) has a great blog. Once a revered Apple Fellow, he is now a self described “venture capitalist and democratizer of information.” Many of his philosophies aimed at invigorating the techie business are applicable to nonprofits to. Straight from a Guy Kawasaki blog post entitled “The Art of Creating a Community” here are a few basic bits of advice:

•Create something worth building a community around.
•Welcome criticism.
•Foster discourse.
•Publicize the existence of the community

This is all something to think about in how we describe ourselves – our talks, website and written materials. Are we really “Nonprofits in the Nonprofit Sector” or are you a “Community Benefit Organization in the Independent Sector.” You can’t change the common name of a whole sector overnight, but I think it is a great idea to begin to introduce these more positive images into how we describe ourselves.

This post is inspired by Hildy Gottlieb’s recent newsletter. Her website is chockfull of free resources and you can read her recent article on this subject here too. Hildy also has books and other resources she has developed for sale on her site.
Hildy Gottlieb's Website

Marion Conway Consulting