Tag Archives: natureconservancy

do you need a web 2.0 website make-over?

(hold your horses)

Now that nonprofits are really getting hip to web 2.0 — encouraging a two-way conversation with constituents, yielding some control of their message to gain bigger and better results, and getting engaged in social networks to expand and enlarge their bases — a lot of us are also looking into shaking up our old websites to reflect these changes.

Maybe you want to rebrand your website just to send the message that you’re using technology in new and exciting ways, to broadcast the fact that there’s new content being created, and not all of it is by you and your marketing director anymore.

Maybe you’re cool with your website, but you’re finding it hard to integrate your newly found web 2.0 tools — does your current website allow you to easily embed YouTube videos? To draw attention to new blog posts and comments? To feature your members’ latest contributions to your Flickr group?

So what does a really well-designed, web 2.0-ready nonprofit website look like?

First, check out this excellent checklist from Kivi Leroux Miller, good for evaluating any nonprofit’s homepage. The list covers all the basics: navigation, SEO, online donations, and more. If you’re not hitting all these notes, all the blogging in the world might not help.

Second, take a look at the nonprofit website that I keep coming back to as an example of Doing It Right, The Nature Conservancy.

Why do I like these guys so much?

    • They integrated their recent successful contest on Flickr that drew thousands of photographic submissions from their community — right at the top of the front page.

    NC banner

    • The most common word on the home page is “you” — and they explain all the different things “you” can do in a quick and easy way.
    • They have a variety of different newsy, well-written content to choose from on their homepage, without making the choices overwhelming. The design is information-packed, but clean and readable.

    news NC

    • They make it easy to donate online, and in a number of intriguing ways.

    donate NC

    • They make it clear that accountability matters to them, by linking TWICE to Charity Navigator, both of which links actually take you to a comprehensive “About Us: Accountability and Transparency” page that addresses these topics in depth, as they relate to The Nature Conservancy.

    accountability NC
    Is it necessary to overhaul your website in order to truly engage your community in the ways they are now coming to expect? Well, that depends on what your website looks like now. Nonprofits are certainly doing nicely without going to the time and expense of a complete redesign, since services like Flickr and YouTube and WordPress make it easy to integrate these tools, if not seamlessly, then nearly so.

    What’s your plan? Are you getting ready for a major website redesign? Or are you waiting to see what shakes out of all this web 2.0 business first?

      state of the debate: build or join

      Brian Oberkirk’s recently posted advice to brands considering launching their own social networks (in short: don’t) has made the rounds in the nonprofit technology blogosphere, mostly thanks to the incredibly useful nptech tag (add this to your RSS feed now if you want to follow other practitioners and thinkers in this field).

      It’s another volley in the ongoing debate over brands (companies, organizations, nonprofits, membership groups, etc.) building their own versus joining an existing social network.

      I weighed in on this topic (twice) back in November, when I suggested that it depends on what your organization’s most pressing goals are, but that a good starting strategy for many groups would be to test the waters of existing social networks by trying to achieve one or two simple, quantifiable goals. Then you can decide from there how to proceed.

      I even created a couple of decision trees (with help from Beth Kanter and Kevin Gamble) to help think through this decision.

      Jeremiah Owyang delves deeply into this question on his blog, most recently in the form of an audio podcast in which he debates the question with colleagues Ted Shelton and Chris Heuer, both of The Conversation Group, and Brian Oberkirk.

      Beth Kanter also recently touched on this question of Build or Join in her recent interview with Jonathan Coleman, Associate Director of Digital Marketing for The Nature Conservancy. Jonathan says:

      …another principle strategy of ours {is} connecting with people where they are rather than making {them} find us. Like many organizations, we used to be under the false impression that “if you build it, they will come.” But nowadays, we’ve come to think different about how we conduct outreach. Rather than force people to come to our site and remember another username and password, we’re happy to find them where they’re already engaged and introduce them to the Conservancy in venues of their choice.

      Just like with any venture into new technology, nonprofits need to think carefully about what resources they have available to dedicate to implementing a social networking strategy. Whether you build or join, it’s a commitment to maintaining a meaningful presence in your online community. The rewards can be great, but don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that it won’t take time, money, and care.

      Fortunately, there are some very smart people out there who can help. I’ve linked to several of them in this post — who else has something compelling to say on the subject these days? What’s your latest thinking on the subject?