Revised with new information as of January 6, 2014

Coyote Communications Technology Tip Sheet Logo

 
Basic Web Development & Maintenance
for Nonprofits, NGOs, Government Offices
& Other Mission-Based Organizations

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For many people (and not just young people), the Internet is their preferred way to access information, from the latest news to ideas for recreation, over any other media. This is the way it's been since the mid-1990s!

It's also the way many - maybe most - potential supporters begin their investigations of a mission-based organization (nonprofit, non-governmental organization/NGO, civil society, government office, school, etc.) they are thinking of donating to or volunteering for. Potential supporters, press people and others may look at an organization's Facebook profile, they may follow an organization on Twitter, but for those that want more in-depth information, or basic information like where an organization is located, if it has bike parking, if they are accepting new volunteers, etc., they are going to go looking on that organization's web site. No matter the size of a nonprofit or NGO organization, no matter the focus of that organization, or where the agency is located, online activities are fundamental to success. And the core of an organization's online presence is still a Web site - it's what all of the organization's other online activities point to.

It's NOT cost-prohibitive to have a web site. If your organization already has computers (even old computers), you will not need to purchase additional software to have a basic Web site.

A mistake many organizations have made in their Web site development is handing over the entire Web development process -- from content creation to regular maintenance -- to a consultant, or another company, or to just one employee or volunteer. This leads to many, even most staff, seeing the web site and other online activities as something completely external to what they do - the volunteer manager, the program director, the box office manager, etc., may not feel any ownership of the organization's online activities, even though all of those people are affected by what the organization does - or doesn't do - online. Instead, everyone in your organization should have continuous opportunities for input into Web site development and maintenance - every staff member, paid or volunteer.

 

Everyone at your organization, particularly department heads and managers of programs, should feel ownership of some part of the web site; the volunteer manager should have a section that is hers (or his), the program director needs to feel ownership of the part of the web site focused on clients and particular clients, etc. Encourage your organization to integrate Web development and management into the work of ALL employees, not only those who produce content for publications and are involved with any communications or outreach activities, but also your program director, volunteer manager, and anyone who has anything to do with those your serve or the public at large.

Everyone at your organization who works with the public or partners in any way should also have input into all of your organization's other online activities as well, like online social networking, online discussion groups, etc... but those recommendations are on another part of my web site.

Your focus on your initial Web site development for your nonprofit, NGO, government agency or department, school, or other mission-based initiative should be to get a simple, easy-to-navigate site up quickly that provides the basic information about your organization (mailing address, contact information, announcements about upcoming events, directions on how to get there, etc.). Once this basic site is up and regularly maintained, the web site can be expanded and advanced features can be developed and implemented.

These tip sheets offer very basic "starter" information, and are focused specifically on people who are NOT "techies." They are also meant to help those who aren't directly involved in web site development to still feel involved and in control of some or all of the process:

Also read: E-Commerce: The 8 Corners
"Like the Kudzu in my Maryland yard, the more you try to bring sense to the Internet hype, the denser it seems to get. The only thing growing faster is the number of people who believe that the digital world somehow overcomes and changes the fundamentals. P.T. Barnum was intimately familiar with the breed and swore that one was born every minute." A must read for anyone wanting to know what the Web can and CANNOT do.
I eye this section of my web site once a year, thinking to myself -- self, these pages probably aren't needed any more. They are soooo basic. There is so much other information out there, more advanced and detailed. Get rid of this section. I tried once - and got two emails within hours of deleting the section, asking me where the pages were and begging me for the info. One of the pages here is one of the top pages on my site. So, the information remains, and is updated a couple of times a year.

 

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