" How Your Non Profit Can Be Heard Above The Noise "

I was watching a documentary on the “Child Witches of Africa”  the other night and it struck me how inhumane man is to man (or in this case innocent children). It is taking place in some of the poorest parts of Nigeria, where evangelical religious fervour is combined with a belief in sorcery and black magic, many thousands of children are being blamed for catastrophes, death and famine: and branded witches. Denounced as Satan made flesh by powerful pastors and prophetesses, these children are abandoned, tortured, starved and murdered: all in the name of Jesus Christ.

I was moved by the efforts of  one inspired, courageuos man to make a difference to this unfolding tragedy, their situation prompted Gary Foxcroft to devote his life to saving these children. He established the charity Stepping Stones Nigeria, in an effort to provide the refuge, comfort and the basics necessary for a child’s development. 

Stepping Stones Nigeria works in partnership with local organisations in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria to build sustainable futures for some of the region’s many disadvantaged children, including protecting, saving and transforming the lives of children who have been stigmatised as being “witches”. Channel 4 broke this story in the UK and consequently won a “BAFTA”

So what has a Website, Blog,  and Social Media (Twitter and Facebook etc) got to do with this. They are the tools and enablers to help get people involved. To get them talking, to  help them find out more, to help get your message out. You might have the greatest cause in the world, but if no one knows about it, then its like that saying “If a tree falls in the forest and you didn’t hear it, did it fall”

I would like to go over some basics for Websites and Blogs for assisting a non profit organisations engage efficientlyand powerfully with their community. In future blogs, I will cover the basics of using “Social Media Tools” like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube for communicating with and empowering your community.

Some Website Guidelines for Non Profits.. 101 

Websites have traditionally been written by programmers in software languages and programming codes like HTML, that required specialist skills, but over the last few years “Open Source” (read free… no license fees ever!!) Content Mangement Systems also called CMS, have been developed that allow companies, NGO’s and individuals to maintain and update websites easily. These are second generation website development tools, that provide cost effective tools to allow people to put up websites and blogs at a fraction of the cost of what it used to be. So what are the basic guidelines for designing a website. You should consider the following.      

  • A Content Mangement System (CMS) that allows companies and non profits to easily upload text, images and videos easily instead of getting a programmer in every time to write new code for the website. (see  MSF .. Doctors Without Borders which was developed in Typo3, an Open Source Code CMS ( Content Management System) by Infinity Technologies
  • This system should allow multiple users (approved of course with User ID an password)  to update information anywhere, anytime.
  • Trained and educated evangelists that you can elicit, to devote time to add content to your Website, Blogs, Facebook and Twitter so you can have high levels of two way communication with your community
  • Search Engine Optimised (SEO) so people can find you on Google (maybe even think about Google adwords..Google apparently will consider helping non profits with some assistance)

Blog Guidelines… 101

A blog is where you can put up the latest news and content, that you want your community to read and hear about and they can comment on it ( two way communication). You can upload text, images and videos (eg YouTube) and have it published in minutes. So what are the basics to consider when putting up your non profits blog.

It should include

1. Menu with the link to pages such as.

  • About us
  • Home (back to your website)

2. Subscription to the Blog by

  • RSS Feed as well as
  • Email

Note: Put these in both the top menu and right side

3. Search feature for the different blogs on the site

4. Include the following links to each of the following at the top of each blog post (to create some SEO Juice)

5. A Text Box in the right panel to include

A” One ” sentence description of  who your organisation is and what it stands for.

 6. A “Connect with us Box” on right panel that includes connecting via the following means

“Your Organisation on Facebook, Twitter and Subscribe to Blog RSS”

 7. Multi User Blog.. so different users can contribute updated content

 8. Popular Posts Box

 9. Browse by Tag Post Box

 10. Browse by Category

These are some ideas to get you started. So how do you get heard above all that noise ?

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Burt Joe Burt

    I really enjoyed this article. I’m a student and for our project management class we have to assist a non profit company with their marketing. I will definitely be showing this to the company especially the piece on website design because that is were they need the most work

  • http://twitter.com/KidsAreHeroes Gabe O’Neill

    All I can say is, think outside the box. It’s what we try and do every single day. There are so many non-profits out there you must make a name and an image for yourself that stands out. But I really feel that in this day and age the best way a non-profit can stand out is by the effective use of social media. We are so blessed that SM is what it is today and through hard work (and no $$) it can really prove effective. It certainly has been good to us. We also try to work with other non-profits when we can. This can be another great way of furthering both causes.

  • http://twitter.com/susanborst susan borst

    Non-profits should check out new Jumo.com. It’s like Trip Advisor for non-profits. It’s presently in beta, but after only four months, 15,000 organizations have signed up.

  • http://twitter.com/FlutterByIzzyJ FlutterBy IzzyJane

    Thanks for the great insight about Non-Profit websites.. This article is very helpful.. Thanks http://www.Jeff Bullas.com
    Our foundations website http://www.FlutterByIzzyJaneFoundaiton.org was designed by the team over at http://www.Local-One.com

    Danny

  • http://clairification.blogspot.com Claire Axelrad

    Nice post.  I’ve created my own blog checklist http://clairification.blogspot.com/2012/03/of-all-killer-social-media-engagement.html and like your additions.  And making the website easy to use is so important for smaller nonprofits.  Otherwise they become so hopelessly outdated that they harm one’s brand more than help it.  Thanks for the great advice, as always.

  • http://clairification.blogspot.com Claire Axelrad

    Think I deleted my comment instead of sending it, so… trying again. Nice post!  I’ve created my own blog checklist http://clairification.blogspot.com/2012/03/of-all-killer-social-media-engagement.html and like your additions.  As to making the website easy for almost anyone to use, that’s so important for smaller nonprofits.  Otherwise they become hopelessly outdated (waiting for someone who knows how to “fix” things to get around to it) and can actually harm the brand more than help it.  Great advice, as always.

  • Est Etkin

    Hi Jeff. We’ve just launched our site this week for a national reading-for-enjoyment initiative in South Africa called Nal’ibal (Xhosa for ‘here’s the story). http://www.nalibali.org has been built by our developers entirely on wordpress and with clever use of wordpress plug-ins. No reason for bespoke CMS these days as you say – especially for NGOs… Thanks for the post. Need to educate more NGOs who get fooled by developers. Nal’ibali Campaign Manager, @EstEtkin