Nonprofit Technology Conference

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Planning & Strategy

Understand the baseline
Undertand objectives, assets, and user needs

Organization: What is your mission?
Website: How will you use your website? What are your organizational objectives? What will you do online to support those objectives?
Audience: What do your audiences want? How will you support their needs using your website?

Surveying Users’ Needs

Research your audience and ask them what THEY want on your site:

  • stats analysis
  • online surveys
  • focus groups
  • task analysis
  • cognitive walkthroughs
  • user scenarios
  • personas

Visual Design
Create a visual identity, reflect brand, unify the user experience
Organizational structure ≠ ideal information architecture
The step between envisioning your design and creating it: develop a moodboard (a collage of visual elements that evokes a certain mood)

when “good design” goes wrong

Audience segmentation

The audience matrix = easy way to…
Stay focused on your audiences
give consideration to your own organizational needs
start building user-centric information architecture
ultimately create a design that works with your usability needs

Column 1
List audiences
Column 2
What do they need?
Column 3
What do you want from them?
Column 4
Preliminary sitemap ideas

Testing & Analytics

  • Design decisions made not only on aesthetics, but on the speed at which a user can complete a task
  • Focus on making people use their computers more efficiently
  • Design decisions are driven by cognitive psychology research and A/B testing
  • Design standards are captured in a global style guide which requires usable code

Where should you incorporate user testing into the redesign timeline?
How long does it usually last?
How do you implement new design ideas at that point in the process?

Determine your top entry pages and make incremental adjustments

2 environments:

  1. You have an ongoing presence and you want to see what’s working/what’s not
  2. Complete site redesign

So process goes like this:

  1. Audience research
  2. Document audiences, their needs, your needs
  3. Develop a sitemap
  4. Develop wireframes
  5. Now you can design for all of these site elements

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Good Online Engagement: What Is It?

Attract prospects, drive traffice & collect email addresses
Engage involved prospects, interact via web and email
Commit supporters, online action (donation/petition)
Retain committed supporters, personalized web content/email contact

Plan to Succeed

  • Mission-based communications vision
  • Organizational goals
  • Departmental goals
    • Strategic
    • Operational
  • Plans to achieve goals


  • Strategic goal: provide regular updates to stakeholders
  • Operational offline goal: produce quarterly print newsletter
  • Operational online goals: weekly website content updates, monthly e-newsletter, action alerts as appropriate
  • Include who, why, when how

What is Your Organizational Capacity?

  • Database
  • Established strategies
  • Operations (staff & technology)
  • Time
  • Money


Are your goals in balance with your capacity?
Have we articulated our vision & goals?
Wher do we need to improve our organization’s capacity?
What are short and long term changes we could make to improve?

Effective Web Presence

4 C’s of Effective Websites


The public face of your organization


Outreach and building relationships
Are we using inviting, engaging language?
Visitors come to your site to learn, then to act


Interactive user experience with clear navigation
No matter what, there is no ONE single type of donor
Need to provide different interactive experiences to appeal to the widest variety of audiences possible


THE most important element — requires regular input
What are you doing to create a stream of content (not just text, but images)?
Don’t use all stock images — this hurts credibility and isn’t as personal as in-house photography/organic content
Websites provide multiple levels of information about your work
Who visits our site? Who do we want to visit our site?
Identify 3 audiences, 3 things you want them to know, and 3 things you want them to DO

Top 9 ways to catch supporters

1. Layout – Outside In not Inside Out
Ask yourself:
can our visitors find what they want on our site?
Ask your visitors:
Can you easily find what you are looking for on our site?
Find out:
Usability testing, focus groups, surveys

2. Bring Content Online
what does your org publish? Who do you serve? What do you do? How do you do it?

When you print reports, flyers, invitations, forms…ask yourself:
How will I put this on the website?
How will it be different (editing, graphics, etc.?
Consider statistics, data, downloadable papers, biographical information

3. Collect Email Addresses
Your New Mantra:
I will collect email addresses — everywhere
I will ask permission to email (volume is not helpful if they don’t wish to subscribe)
I will make regular contact

4. Write for the Web
People barely READ websites word for word
They SCAN web sites
They GLANCE at emails

With this in mind, do not write hyperlinks that say “click here” — use the title of the link &mash; hyperlinks need to be like wildfire!

5 top web writing tips:

  1. Highlight keywords
  2. Use bulleted lists
  3. One idea per paragraph
  4. Cut your text in half (then in half again)
  5. Offer links

5. Get Content
You are not alone!
You can get free content from:

  • Partners, collaborators
    • Yahoo
  • News feeds
  • Your constituents

Identify important “revolving” content
Coordinate the team: think about program content and content management tools
Develop a schedule

6. Ask and Make it Easy to:
Give a donation
Take an Action
Learn about you
Contribute in other ways

Ask for support or to take action
Give compelling reasons to help or give
Provide secure donation page
Tag line & mission statement
Contact information on every page

7. Privacy Policy
Describes how your org handles information
Informs visitors how you will handle:

  • name/personal info
  • credit card/ donor info
  • email addresses
  • cookies

8. Interactivity
Clicking is a kinesthetic experience, mimics a conversation
The more your visitor can “talk to you, the closer they will feel to your mission
The closer they feel to your mission, the more they will want ot support you
Don’t be afraid to have fun

9. Web Management
To update content easily, you will need someone on board with web skills
Your options:

  • consultant
  • train your staff
  • invest in a CMS
  • all of the above


How is this different from our website?
Which of these elements could we try?
What ideas does this generate for me?

Effective email

“Email communications are more important than a website.” mdash; Michael Gilbert, “Gilbert Manifesto”
Exceptions: initial list building/application-focused sites
Combining email and direct mail builds personal relationships
Personal relationships are the heart of fundraising

Four Email Cornerstones

1. Personal
Personalize messages with data (names, amounts, etc.)

2. Targeted
Segment lists and target emails

3. Integrated
Email integrated with web content, direct mail, etc.
Campaigns should be mirrored between website & direct mailings
People who receive a direct mailing may visit the website, will expect to see the same thing

4. Trackable
Seek out and use data about your emails

Six Email Considerations

  1. Respect your subscriber
  2. Email privacy policy
  3. Build the list the right way (one person at a time)
  4. Make a compelling “envelope”
  5. HTML vs. text
  6. Test in different programs, services

Email techniques

  • Hypertext links
  • Word of mouse marketing (viral)
  • Personalized greetings and references
  • Incentives
  • List segmentation
  • Clickthrough tracking

Enewsletter techniques

  • Create glance-able, enticing TOC
  • Establish the brand
  • Content
    • write for readers to scan (subject line/short items/visuals/teasers)
    • create links to longer items on the web
  • Establish timing for newsletter
    • keep to regular schedule: quarterly/monthly/weekly
  • Provide ability to pass the eNewsletter to a friend

Avoiding the SPAM label

  • Ask for and document permission to email online/offline
  • Postal address and unsubscribe option in every email
  • Accurate subject and from lines – no sensational language
  • Establish an email privacy policy
  • Ask stakeholders how frequently they want to receive communications

Basics of Driving Traffic

  • Distinct and succinct URL
  • Your URL everywhere
  • Use word of mouth
  • Links to partners and content
  • Fundraising campaigns and special events
  • Email and enewsletters
  • Paid key words/Google Grants
  • Related newsgroups and listservs

Tracking Metrics

Accurately benchmarks what people really care about
Helps you create and evaluate campaigns

Website Metrics:

  • Unique visitors
  • Most popular pages/stories…and the least
  • Time on site/page
  • Document downloads
  • Keywords
  • Website traffic sources

Email/Enews Metrics

  • Open rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Response rate for requested action
  • eNewsleter subscribes/unsubscribes


How is this different from our strategies for driving traffic?
How do we track metrics? How might we do it differently moving forward?

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Podcasts are becoming more mainstream. People could be consuming podcasts without even realizing it. It is perfectly acceptable to ease your way into podcasting and slowly grow; start with simple tools and build from there.

Planning a Podcast

  1. Strategize
    • Write down some goals and track your progress
  2. Focus on your audience (the constituents you want to attract or who are already involved)
    • Find out what they are already listening to so you can determine themes you may want to embed in your own messages
  3. Consider your story
    • Look at what has been successful for other podcasters
  4. Consider hardware options (remember: the fancier the hardware, the more complicated it may be to use)
    • USB headset: the cheapest, easiest option
    • Dynamic ($20-30) or condenser mics ($150-500): condenser is powered from external source (mixer or plug), all mics pick up vibrations (use a boom stand!)
    • Pop guard (to prevent popping P’s): make your own out of coat hanger & old pantyhose
    • Soundboard: plugs directly into your computer, allows you to record each individual on a separate track, allows you to back up a podcast to an external device WHILE recording it
    • Mobile devices: perfect for in the field, on the move, or catching events live
    • Video recording: Flip cams
  5. Consider software options
    • Audacity
    • Garage Band (Mac)
    • Sony Sound Forge
    • Adobe Audition
    • Levelator
    • Skype
      • Pamela
      • Hot Recorder
      • Audio Hijack Pro
  6. Production considerations
    • Editing/clean up: when editing, keep file format as WAV (large, uncompressed); only final output is MP3
    • Bit rate: increase bit rate by using mono, don’t go under 32, >64 for best quality
    • Stereo vs. mono: stereo may be distracting
    • ID3 tags: edit these directly in iTunes
    • Images
    • iTunes tags
    • Show notes: write a description of your overall show as well as descriptions for individual episodes; include resources and URLs referenced
    • Overall length: depends on the topic &mash; usually 10–30 mins for a meaty subject
  7. Decide where to host your podcasts
    • Consider bandwidth limits
  8. Hit a critical mass of podcasts before publishing (at least 5 episodes)
  9. Promote your podcasts on social networks
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Blogs (especially WordPress plugins)
    • Digg
    • Reddit
    • LinkedIn
    • StumbleUpon
    • YouTube
  10. Make use of cross-channel promotion: don’t let you podcast become an “island” from your other media — integrate!
    • Website
    • Email
    • Newsletters
    • Press Releases
    • Advertisements
    • Partners
  11. Solicit feedback


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(And how does it connect to your website?)

Elements of a strong nonprofit brand:

  1. Organizational: vision mission, values, objectives, audiences
  2. Conceptual: personality, positioning statement — internal only
  3. Visual: logo, colors, fonts, imagery
  4. Written: name, tagline, mission statement, key messages, boilerplate
  5. Spoken: elevator pitch
  6. Experiential: programs spaces, website, social media, print, phones

Determine Your Audience’s Needs

  • Google Analytics
  • Surveys
  • Create user persona(s)
    • write up story about who your users are
    • what’s their age, comfort level with the web, etc.
  • User testing
    • sit next to someone and do a website scavenger hunt
    • ex: if you wanted to donate to our org, where would you go?

Case Studies

CrossCultural Solutions

  1. Invest in CMS
  2. Incorporate years of volunteer survey comments
  3. Incorporate staff feedback
  4. Develop user personas
  5. Design multiple wireframes (>6 by site launch)
  6. Relate site to CCS community
  7. Planned site map with SEO/SEM
  8. Use brand manual and style guides
  9. Learned from Google Analytics, HeatMapping!

Lessons Learned

  • Keep brand manual, style guide, project brief on hand throughout design and implementation
  • Commit to ongoing brand development. Launch, revise, launch, etc. (keep in mind phase 2 and 3 of website!)
  • More user testing by stakeholders before launch (allow more than a few days!)

How to Get Started

  • Look at your qualitative and quantitative data
  • Listen to buzz, and embrace the positive brand love
  • Learn from your peers and other key players you feel are in a non-competing position

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Answering foundational questions early in the process will:

  • Set you on the right path
  • Help you sift through technology decisions, especially giant feature lists
  • Support you if a crisis arises

Questions to Answer

If you don’t answer these questions sooner, you will answer them later.
An answer is better than no answer
It’s about process, research, analysis, discussion, alignment.


Clients? Donors? Advocates? Activists? Volunteers?
Who are they in terms of age, gender, profession, social technographics (how they participate online)?
If your potential community members exist on Facebook, but you have something to offer more than Facebook and you don’t want to be locked into that particular tool, it’s perfectly okay


Where are they online? Offline?
Who will the community NOT serve?

  • Age
  • Country

It’s about setting expectations. You can still welcome those outside direct service (diversity is good).


Why are we doing this?


What is our mission, vision, purpose, focus, goals?

What values do we hold? What are your areas of distrust? What does success look like?


How does change happen?

How is our organization limited?

  • Budget
  • Time
  • Development resources
  • IT support

How involved do we want/need to be in the community?
How will we sustain the community?
How will we support diversity/dissent?


When do we expect results? When should be expect results?
Don’t expect any results in first 3–6 months.
1 year = hint of results
2 years = solid results


  • Start with a purpose in mind
  • Slowly build your audience/collaborators
    • the first 10 members set the tone
    • recruit people who set the standards for participation and achievement
  • Experiment and get the tool mix right
  • Understand and nurture your community
  • Segment your community
    • Heavy contributors
    • Intermittent contributors
    • Lurkers

Community management

Empower your super users
Make it easy to find, join, and act: welcome your community members
Engage with your community
Learn from your mistakes

Wrap Up

It’s about people and processes.
Hit as many of the big questions as you can.
Reflect back on your answers while reviewing technology options.
Be flexible — experimentation is okay!
Review your questions and answers and update as necessary.

Session wiki:

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Breaking Down Silos

Usually, IT misalingment occurs in one of two models:

business strategy –> business process –> IT process
IT strategy –> IT process –> business process

In this example, there is never any overlap between business strategy and IT strategy. We need to break down these 2 silos. Business teams should come to IT not asking for software or more computers, but actually to solicit solutions for problems at a strategic level (not at a tactical level).

Ideal Process

Ideal Process
IT strategy–> business strategy –> business process –> IT process

Once IT and your organization’s mission are aligned, THEN you can think about adding social media and other Web 2.0 elements.

Think of IT as propelling business, not driving.

What the CEO needs to know about technology:

  • IT drives business
  • IT is here to stay
  • caution & cost
  • cost ≠ value
  • don’t reinvent
  • everyone has a better idea
  • avoid the bleeding edge
  • one size does not fit all
  • know your assets
  • standardize & unify
  • develop a philosophy
  • define direction

Changing a Culture

  • Aligning IT with the mission
  • Relationship Building
  • Transparency

The IT Director

  • Selection Process
  • Role of the IT director
    • alignment focused
    • relationship builder
    • business partner
    • orchestrates people & process
  • Commitment to the org’s mission

If your technology group doesn’t have a people person running it and talking to people and creating a strategy, IT alignment won’t happen.

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