How websites can support your impact


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

How websites can support your impact

  1. 1. How Websites can Support your ImpactWith over 160,000 organisations now registered with the Charity Commission, the third sector isa competitive place to operate in. Reduced funding and increased demands are adding to thepressures of every third sector organisation.Effective communication can give organisations the edge whilst engaging all stakeholdersparticularly the all important funders. Effective, consistent and constant communications withstakeholders is essential for third sector organisations.In one of the first papers on the sector‘s use of the internet in 19981, one of the conclusionsdrawn was that: in order to raise funds, organisations must maintain exposure to ensure thatthe public is aware of their mission and needs. This still applies today but with the added focuson transparency and accountability. In the past supporters of third sector organisations havebeen less concerned with results unlike the shareholders of companies however this has evolvedwith more questioning how their donations are being spent.Websites are the perfect tool for third sector organisations. Convince surfers that you areaccountable and transparent with a worthy cause and they will donate more, volunteer, signyour online petition and champion your cause. Key online features that will help demonstrateyour organisation’s accountability and impact online are outlined below.Mission and Vision StatementObvious but so important. Tell visitors to your website your raison detre and what your vision is.Succinctness and clarity of message are important. Make sure your mission and visionstatements are inspiring. If you don’t engage visitors here, there is no hope of them gettinginvolved with your organisation.About UsBe open about the history of your organisation. Give visitors a sense of the culture andphilosophies of your organisation, what drives it and how it has developed over the years.People buy people. The more personal you make this area of the site, the better theengagement. List all your members of staff including board members, what they do, how theycan be contacted and the contact details of your organisation. Don’t give people a reason not toget in touch and find out more.Impact and Annual ReportsIn the private sector, companies post their annual reports on their website mainly todemonstrate their ROI to existing and potential shareholders. There are a multitude of reasonswhy posting this type of information on a third sector website is important. Impact (non-financial, narrative) and Annual (financial) reports are crucial for influencing potentialstakeholders and demonstrating return on donations, funding or society. With increasing1 Elliott, B., Katsioloudes, M. and Weldon, R.(1998) Nonprofit Organizations and the Internet NonprofitManagement & Leadership, vol. 8, no. 3, Spring
  2. 2. competition and reduced government funding, demonstrating the value that the organisationcan bring, is key for future donations.Research2 conducted in the US suggested that the disclosure of the finances and performancesof 100 not-for-profit organisations lead to increased donations: in effect donors were ‘willing topay in the form of increased donations, for quality information disclosed on nonprofitwebsites...”. Whether this research is generalisable is largely unimportant. Shouldn’t thisinformation be shared as a matter of course?Well written reports will convey professionalism and will attract the more questioning donor orfunder. They may be more inclined to invest in your organisation if they believe that theirmoney is going to be utilised wisely. Their judgement may be based on what they read in yourreport.The beauty of websites is that your reports can take any format you like. A PDF download, MSWord document, or PowerPoint presentation or podcasts. Be imaginative and accommodating,offering different formats according to your key audiences.Case StudiesPossibly the most compelling message for your organisation is the case study. These can be usedto demonstrate your organisation’s performance, the benefit to your beneficiaries or yourimpact on society. Case studies can convince the sceptic that your cause has really made adifference. Provide them in different online formats to engage with and communicate howimportant your organisation is.FundingWhere does your money come from; why did you receive it and what did you do with it?Showing how you are funded will make others more likely to invest in your organisation as theyhave gotten a sense as to why others have invested in your cause. Be clear about how youintend to spend their donation. This adds to the all important organisational transparency.Online CommunicationOnce you have all this information on your website, get people to visit it by constantly talkingabout it. Use social networking tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, You Tube, Facebook and ShareThis Page software to create online buzz and encourage dialogue between your organisationand existing and potential stakeholders. Send newsletters updating them on what yourorganisation has been doing and how this has helped your mission and users. It’s a relationship.The more communication there is in a relationship, the more transparency there is and themore trust is built. Project accountability and trustworthiness through continuedcommunications and reporting.Where possible on your website, ask for feedback and what your site visitors would like to seemore of. User journey experiences are key. Not all third sector organisations can afford to have2 Saxton, G.D., Neely, D.G. and Chao, C, (2010) Web Disclosure and the Market for CharitableContributions. Independent Paper
  3. 3. the website user journeys examined but you can ask users to give feedback directly or check theanalytics to find out how they are navigating your site.AccessibilityWith all of the features above it is important to have all of them easily accessible on yourwebsite. Being buried under pages of less relevant material will only frustrate someone eager tofind information on your organisation so make it easy for your information to be found.. Testyour site to ensure those with visual disabilities can access the site easily too. RNIB can providefurther guidance on online accessibility.Accountability, Clarity and TransparencyBottomline: demonstrating accountability, clarity and transparency can engender trust. Themore your website can demonstrate this, the more value you will get from it. Trust is a coreactor in the donor/third sector organisation relationship. It is therefore important for thirdsector organisation websites to demonstrate accountability over and above their private andpublic sector counterparts.Research3 has indicated that by improving communication, non-profit organisations can create alever for improving trust with their funders. Websites can provide this two-way communicationthat builds both a relationship with different stakeholders and ultimately your ImpACT.Agnes Jumah, Head of Marketing, ACEVO3 MacMillan, K., Money, K., Money, A., and Downing, S. (2003) Relationship marketing in the not-for-profit sector: an extension and application of the commitment–trust theory. Centre for OrganisationReputation and Relationships, Henley Management College