Getting the most from Web 2.0 technology for non-profits

Lori Halley 20 February 2007 2 comments

In today’s concluding instalment of tips and best practices to improve your non-profit’s Web site, our focus zeroes in on new technology. More specifically, Web 2.0 technology, which you can read about in greater detail here:

•    Web 2.0 In Non-Profits – Tools Of Web 2.0
•    Everything You Need To Know About Web 2.0

Have a plan and a solid foundation

While it might be tempting to add all sorts of bells and whistles to your Web site, you should only do so when you are ready, capable and know what you’re doing online as an organization. Have a marketing plan. Know why you need a blog, a wiki, a message board or whatever your organization wants to use for its marketing purposes.

Track how your technology is being used

Make sure that you’re not only tracking your online (and offline) donations, but also learn where your visitors are generally coming from and how they are exiting your site – while respecting people’s privacy, of course. This will tell you where your marketing efforts are succeeding and where they might be failing.

Be careful not to confuse human visitors with bots and other Web crawlers used by search engines, as well. While it might be useful to know that various search engines are finding your organization and logging your site in their databases, you want to know the number of real visitors finding your site. Your tracking software should be able to parse out non-human site readers for you.

While it is not a perfect solution, Google Analytics offers a particularly comprehensive tool that allows you to track visitor loyalty with relative accuracy in a pinch.

Teamwork counts

As this particularly apt recent article about Web site politics on highcontext.com points out, “Some days it may seem that the biggest problem with your Web site is not the technology that powers it, but the power struggles (internally at your organization) that threaten to undermine it.”

While you will want to make sure that your Web presence considers the end user experience as much as possible, there may be times where you will have to make compromises due to office politics. However, you should strive to build internal consensus within your organization, and you might be able to do that by tying IT initiatives to your staff’s plans and ambitions. Figure out what your staff needs are, and try to build bridges between those needs and those belonging to your visitors. 

Don’t get left behind

The uses of technology can change extremely rapidly. For instance, while social networking sites like LinkedIn, My Space and YouTube might be popular today, nobody really knows if such sites will go the way of the tamagotchi tomorrow. For that reason, you probably don’t want to get too entrenched or too dependent upon one type of Web-related technology. However, you don’t want to be left trailing other non-profits and businesses at the same time, either.

Be sure that you or someone in your organization with a vested interest in the subject can keep track of the latest and greatest changes in technology. Know what’s coming down the pipe so that when the time is right, your organization can act strategically.

For more tips and ideas on this topic, please consult Todd Baker’s Non-Profit Websites: Cutting Through The E-maze (PDF).

Also, if your organization is involved with charity work, you may want to read Matthew Ingram’s blog posting about Remaking the charity biz, Web 2.0-style for additional ideas and insights.

This post is from contributing writer Zachary Houle, who has been published in SPIN magazine, Canadian Business, The National Post and the book, TVParty!: Television’s Untold Tales. He was nominated for a U.S. Pushcart Prize for his writing, and also received an arts grant from the City of Ottawa in 2005 to complete a short story collection.

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot] Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]

Published Tuesday, 20 February 2007 at 5:03 PM

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Comments

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Friday, 02 March 2007 at 3:46 AM

    Last week, we wrote a blog post about web 2.0 technologies for non-profits - an overview of the latest

  • Wild Apricot Blog said:

    Tuesday, 03 July 2007 at 6:14 AM

    Today marks a special day for the Wild Apricot team - it's a one year birthday for our product and our

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