Monday, September 17, 2012

Do You Need a Website?

Cloudlancer Writing Services usually sends a prospective client a questionnaire to assess organizational readiness to apply for grants. One of the questions asks whether they have a website, and for some reason, in the last two or three months, many organizations have answered “no” to that question, or indicated they have a simple page with their name and donation contact information only.
I absolutely recommend that your NPO have a well-designed and informative website. There are so many hosting services out there that have DIY templates, there is simply no reason not to have one. On the other hand, a really bad website is undoubtedly worse than no website.
The website should provide information as well as ask for donations. Many grantors will ask for your URL, and they may expect to be able to visit the website and receive information that may not be on your grant application. For that reason alone, you should have a website with the information they may be seeking.
The latest surveys of foundation-based grant funders indicate that approximately 20% have gone to a web-based application format.  That is an increase of 5% in two years. That is both a blessing and a curse. Aside from the Common Grant Application format, there is no standardization of these online application processes. Many of them are severely limited in space to provide your grant narrative, and they often do not have space to list your other funders. Others ask for your top five funders, sometimes with amounts, sometimes without amounts. Most of them do not allow you to send other data, such as expanded program descriptions, or documentation regarding funding. They may not ask for your board of director’s information.
A well-designed nonprofit website will answer many of the questions they may have. Smaller nonprofits with low budgets for web development should still strive to answer at least the five “W” questions; Who, What, When, Where and Why.  The website should provide donor recognition (your new donor may well expect some sort of recognition on your website) opportunities, news of events past and future, and some mention of your most outstanding accomplishments in the past year.
Your website should look and feel professional. What is acceptable on social media pages is often not acceptable in the business world. If you must take a really informal tone, provide a link to your Facebook or other social media page. Typos, poor grammar, slang, and Twitter-style writing does not belong on your website.  I actually looked at a website recently whose landing page started out with “Hey there dude, whazzup?” Somehow, I don’t think the review board of the Carnegie Foundation will be impressed. If you don’t feel that you can present just the right impression, we can help you to achieve that balance between professional and empathetic.
Your website is your organization’s online persona. It’s the first impression many people will have of your organization. Make it a good one.

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