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Using Your Web Site to Support Strategic Goals

Every nonprofit organization has goals, and these goals can change over time. Some organizations set out to raise money for research and then begin to provide education. Some set out simply to educate but then move toward advocacy. And still others serve to meet the ever-changing needs of their members. As new goals get added and old ones go by the wayside, nonprofits need to adjust their communications and fundraising efforts accordingly.

For most organizations, Web sites are at the top of the list of things to update, especially when goals change. Typically during the update process, the overall design and content of the Web site gets re-evaluated, and the navigation is usually modified to reflect changes in positioning. Sometimes organizations can get so carried away with the structure and design of the Web site that they forget that it can be used for more than just conveying information. The Web site can be an effective tool to support and advance many of the organization's strategic goals.

When reevaluating or updating your organization's Web site, list all of your strategic goals. If you have three primary goals, such as increase membership, increase on-line donations, and increase advocacy, use them to guide the design of the Web site. If there are secondary goals, list them as well. Simply enumerating each goal will help the Web team focus on creating pages or an entirely new site that support your strategic initiatives.

Here are some practical tips to help ensure that your organization's Web site supports your strategic goals:

  1. Calls to Action—Calls to action are a direct and concise way to encourage constituents to take a desired action. Calls to action can include such things as send a note to your senator, sign the petition, forward to a friend. They can vary depending on each organization's goals.

  2. Buttons—Buttons can include calls to action and as a design element will help reinforce the organization's goals. One of the most common buttons is the "donate now" button. Thousands of organizations have a "donate now" button on their respective Web sites. And by now, most have placed that button on every page. This element of Web design can be used for other goals. Buttons can ask constituents to "forward to a friend," "e-mail your representative," "join today," or "get involved."

  3. Resource Center—If education is part of your organization's goal, creating a searchable resource center will help position you as a knowledge center. The resource center should have a navigation link and a button. Depending on the page being viewed, buttons can link to additional information located in the resource center. Constituents who click on the button will be directed to the resource center, where all the resources are on display.

  4. Information Integration—Placing all of this information on your Web site will help clearly convey your organization's goals and encourage constituents to act accordingly. In order to make these tactics truly valuable, however, organizations need to capture constituent information and use it to develop more customized communications that will foster deeper relationships with constituents.
Using the easy and affordable design element of buttons coupled with concise calls to action can help organizations meet their objectives. Additionally, when constituents express interest in a particular initiative, the data collected from the Web site should be segmented into like groups, which will make it easier and quicker to build donor relationships and increase donor retention.

Frank Barry, Kintera®, Inc. © 2008, Kintera®, Inc.

Frank Barry is director of professional services for Kintera®, Inc. Kintera provides an integrated, on-demand open platform to help organizations quickly and easily reach more people, raise more money, and run more efficiently. The technology platform features a social constituent relationship management (CRM) system, enabling donor management, e-mail and communications, Web sites, events, advocacy programs, wealth screening, and accounting. In addition, the company also has an open applications integration platform that enables clients and partners to integrate with the Kintera technology platform.
Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice