Even judging by traditional metrics alone the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimates that Not For Profits:
- contributed about $43 billion to gross domestic product (GDP)
- employed approximately 890 000 people
- received $5.1 billion in donations and $25.5 billion in direct government funding.
Clearly these organisations are important & deserve a decent website.
Whilst each organisation has their own mission, goals & requirements - we have seen some patterns whilst working with NFP's.
Often as part of their offering they provide a lot of information to the community about their organisation, offerings & issues they are addressing. Large amounts of content needs a strategy & an implementation plan with design & technology to back it up. Content & forms are often required in a downloadable (PDF) format & they are subject to change and government regulation.
Sites are rarely just information nowadays, they are required to 'do' something. A key area for Not for Profits is collecting information through online forms - contact, volunteer registration, service requests & applications. A good form generation system is a must.
Efficiency is also important for NFPs, integrations with intranets, CRM's, Payment gateways & secure areas for staff to administer services allows the site to provide time and cost savings & value.
Websites are often administered by staff that are part time or whose focus & experience is not technology orientated. They might be content specialists, fund raisers or administrators. A highly usable intuitive content management system backed up with easy to read documentation & training is vital.
When designing any site the process starts early. It's all about understanding the organisations goals & requirements & designing around the target audiences needs.
The target audience might not be familiar with technology or have access to a modern desk top machine with fast internet connections. They might have a disability that effects their ability to see or interact with a site. Designing with these considerations in mind creates a highly effective site that serves the organisation & users needs.
Visual design is where the site defines the users perception & projects the right image to the world. The emphasis for this varies greatly. For example a fun loving environmental organisation have very different requirements to site dedicated to providing for the homeless. Visual design is led by the organisations Mission & Values.
Technology choices can sometimes seem like a detail, however they can greatly influence a sites success. Some things to consider are:
Open source systems ensure you are free to do as you please with your website, without fear of the restrictions (and price) of proprietary products.
We've had a lot of success building sites on the Silverstripe platform. Silverstripe is an Open Source project from New Zealand with strong leadership from its parent company & contributions from around the world.
Silverstripe is an incredibly professional product - its robust architecture, security & reliability are far better than competitors like Joomla!, Drupal or even Wordpress.
Silverstripe provides us with the features, tools and architecture to write flexible professional websites. Check out some more thoughts on silverstripe.
Kindleman & Not For Profits
Kindleman have designed & built a number of successful Not-For-Profit websites over the years. We recently launched iq2oz.com, have a long standing relationship with footpathlibrary.org and we are currently working on a new site for Baptist Care - a huge organisation that provides community, aged and social services.
Resources & Further Reading