• Your Website: Putting the power back in your hands

    Communication, Communication Design

    This week I asked Mark Haak to write about some work we’ve been doing. We have been putting charities like yours - back in the drivers seat of their website. In the spirit of keeping things simple and straightforward, we have been working with charities like yours to show them how easy it is to regain control of their websites and more importantly, keep it current and relevant to your donor and their needs.

    Technology has made it possible to get a site built to your specific needs and then allows you to update things when you need to, as you need to. No more waiting for your “webmaster”.

    The best part of all, is that it likely costs less than you think.

    Enjoy Mark’s post.

    Take control of your non profit’s website and fire your webmaster!

    OK, maybe that’s taking it a bit far for some organizations, but there is truth in that statement.

    Technology has changed and its time you took notice. Why should a non profit care about technology? Because it will give you the power to easily communicate to your donors and build a community around your cause – every charity knows the benefits of that.

    Gone are the days of asking your IT guy to make updates to your site content. Gone are the delays, extra charges and excuses. Most organizations don’t make updates to their site because it costs too much or takes too long. What if you (yes, you) could do it all yourself?

    By using an “open source” content management system (CMS) you can update you own content. What does that mean? In plain English – there is web software readily available that allows you to easily edit content, add pages, photos and more to your site. You can review and approve content before publishing it live. You can have different staff logins for different sections of your site (ie. one person updates news, another updates events, your Toronto chapter has their own section to update etc). All this with no software to purchase or download on your PC. No licenses to worry about. No big development fees. No complicated training or learning curve. None.

    I can hear you now, “Really?”

    Yes! If you can fill out a basic form on a web page - you can add content to your site. If you can format some simple copy in Microsoft Word - you can format copy for your website. This includes uploading photos, adding downloadable PDF files and, wait for it, even video. You have control. Anytime, anywhere (well, anywhere you have an internet connection and a computer). You can even add new pages to your site, allow your staff to add events to an event calendar, upload photo galleries from you latest event, approve content before publishing it live and let viewers subscribe to newsletters you email to them (which is also easy to make your own branded e-Newsletters, more on that some other time).

    But wait, what about the cost? The investment in the infrastructure. The training. The hosting. The support fees. You’ll be surprised how affordable the technology is today. We’re not talking tens of thousands. We’re not even talking ten thousand. And these open source systems run on common web servers or many of our clients are hosted for as little as $15/mo including more space and bandwidth than you will probably need. Training is usually a short session to get the basics and you’re updating your site in no time.

    All of your content, your “data” is stored in a database so its fully searchable, editable and reusable. Google will love you. And this way future updates to your site design don’t require recreating content. We simply redesign your site templates and you’ll have a completely new site look with the same content management abilities and great content.

    And don’t get me started on the things we can tell you about your users on your site. How they are finding you. What content they are viewing. Where they are coming from.

    That’s just the beginning. The opportunities are endless. We can add blogs, tie in with online donation systems or build event and campaign microsites with the same easy to update features.

    It’s real. It works. And it’s incredible.

    So, what are you waiting for?

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