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3 Tips for Keeping Your Website Fresh

Lori Halley  21 September 2012  0 comments

This month’s Nonprofit Blog Carnival host,  Elizabeth Ricca (The Duck Call Blog), asked us to offer up our “best website tips” for non-profits. After giving it some thought, it seems to me that for any non-profit, keeping website content current or fresh is truly mission critical.  Updating your supporters on how their donations and volunteer efforts have enabled your mission is key. But in reality, frequent website updates can be a major challenge, especially for small-staff or volunteer-led organizations. So here are three tips that might help:

Tip #1 - Don’t Be Held Hostage By A Web Developer

Many small organizations rely on volunteers or staff with limited digital skills to update content on their website. This means that you need to ensure you have a user-friendly platform or content management tool to make their job easier. Otherwise, fresh content may be put on hold while you wait for a “techie” volunteer or an outside service provider to upload the content to your site. 

This may leave you feeling like“the victim of a "hostage" situation with [a] web developer.” Which is how one non-profit client recently described their experience before they switched to a user-friendly membership management software platform.

OK, so maybe you haven’t felt held hostage exactly. But there may have been times when you’ve had a Board member or other volunteer who was willing to contribute some great content or compelling photos, but the scheduling of your website updating caused the content to languish. And what starts out as fresh content ends up a little stale by the time your supporters see it on your website.

Member map banner

Tip #2 Schedule fresh content by taking a meal planning approach

You don’t have to be a digital whiz or content management expert to get started with mapping out a strategy and creating a schedule for website content. If you’re new to this or managing a team of volunteers who are just getting started with website content development, think like you would with meal planning. For example, if you were planning a week’s worth of meals, you might make Monday spaghetti night and Tuesday, meatball sandwiches and a movie night, and so on.  Then you’d figure out what ingredients you’d need for those meals - what you have on hand; what needs to be created from scratch; and which ingredients should be added to your grocery list.

When thinking about scheduling content for your website, think about what news you’d like to dish up each week or month and map that to your organization’s activities and information. What content do you have on hand and what do you need to develop?  Start with a realistic and manageable time frame for planning - can you schedule one or two months of content?

What fresh content ingredients do you have on-hand?

For example, think about:
  • Your organization’s calendar - what’s up in the next month or two?
  • Events you’ve got scheduled - you can create content with teasers about the event; then showcase the event details and finally report on and show images of the event afterwards.
  • Issues you’re addressing or lobbying efforts - can you post an online petition? are there weekly or monthly updates that you can post?
  • Fundraising campaigns - what are your goals? are there photos and/or stories of those impacted by these funds?

In a great post - Content Strategies: Mapping and Merging - Kivi Leroux Miller, suggests you start by “mapping out your  big-picture communications timeline...” then “[w]ith these big milestones and stories in place, it’s now much easier to start breaking down this big picture into smaller chunks of time, like a quarter or a month, and to develop a more specific editorial calendar from there.” 

Tip #3 Manage your website in the cloud

To piggy-back on the user-friendly tip above, another consideration for time-strapped staff and volunteers at small non-profits, is ease-of-access. If your volunteers can access your website to easily add or revise content from any Internet browser - at home; at work; or even during one of your events or in the midst of one of your projects - you’ll reap the benefits of frequent updates.  

There are many website platforms or tools that are cloud-based or web-based - meaning that you don’t need any special software, you can access these applications through password access (or login) from any Internet web browser. 

So don't be held hostage by a web developer, give staff and volunteers easy-to-use, web-based tools so they can help serve up fresh content regularly on your website.

Additional tips and resources for non-profit websites:

Here are a couple of additional Wild Apricot posts written by Rebecca Leaman that offer some great advice and tips for non-profit websites:

What other tips or strategies have you used to keep your non-profit website content fresh? Share them with us in the comments below.

Image source:  Sign post for fresh ideas from Bigstockphoto.com

Lori Halley

Posted by Lori Halley

Published Friday, 21 September 2012 at 8:30 AM
Sorry, this blog post is closed for further comments.

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