Ten years ago, Web sites were considered anything but a necessity for thriving businesses. Today, a Web site is virtually essential for any business and serves many purposes.
Nonprofits also have not gone unaffected by the Internet revolution. The public has become accustomed to finding any and all information on-line, including information on the charities they may be contemplating donating their time or money to. Nonprofits are now realizing the importance of having a Web site, and many have adapted accordingly.
Last month, GuideStar asked newsletter readers a series of questions regarding Web sites. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said that their organizations had a Web site; only 10 percent said they did not.
Respondents stated their organizations used their Web sites for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, the sites are used as a communications tool. Lori Potrykus of New Horizons Un-Limited, Inc. commented, "Our website is primarily an information portal for people with disabilities. We have recently updated our website to include more about our organization and to offer opportunities to donate. We are still developing this aspect of our site and look forward to utilizing our website in forwarding our outreach and fundraising efforts."
For organizations lacking a Web site, building and maintaining one may seem like a daunting task. There are, however, services out there to help. GuideStar offers one such service by connecting you with MSDN Online, a Microsoft-sponsored community of volunteer Web developers who assist nonprofits on a pro bono basis. Need to create a Web site? Need help updating your organization's existing Web site? GuideStar participants can connect with an MSDN Online developer by posting an ad for Web development assistance on GuideStar.
Equally important to having and maintaining a Web site is keeping track of how many people visit it and what kind of information they access from it. Such statistics are important for gauging the site's effectiveness.
May's question of the month asked our newsletter readers how many page views (a popular Web site statistic) their site sustains each month. Almost half the respondents, 45 percent, said that their organizations did not track this figure.
Why is it important to know the number of page views your organization's Web site receives?
The number of page views determines how "sticky" your site is; it tells you whether your audience finds your site interesting and if visitors navigate through it to find more information about all aspects of your organization.
Interested in keeping stats on your site? There are many services out there that can help.
WebTrends Live (personal edition) is a free service that offers basic Web site traffic analysis for small personal and nonprofit sites. WebTrends Live will tell you where your site visitors come from, what pages they view most often, and much more.
SiteTracker offers detailed traffic reports, marketing reports, site path reports, and visitor profile reports. Free services are available.
Whether you need help creating or updating a Web site or tracking its use, start taking advantage of the abundance of resources available for nonprofit organizations today. The Internet is here to stay … make it work for your organization!
The preceding is a guest post by Sharon Brown, Marketing Coordinator for GuideStar.