There are varieties of web-based or on-line communication methods being employed by non-profits. How well non-profits use each of them depends on three things, (1) recognition of the changing world we live in, (2) buy-in by leadership, and (3) strategy definition.
Here are the basic types of on-line communication.
- E-update (amazingly no Wiki on this one)
- Podcasts (and their derivatives)
Each of these have their place in the world of web communications and web relationships. But it all starts with strategy! Without a clearly defined strategy, on-line efforts will be fumbling, disjointed, and ultimately unsuccessful. By defining the strategy, a non-profit can set a clear course of action and obtain measurable results.
Michael Gilbert of the Gilbert Center points out that e-mail is more important than your website. I tend to agree. For many non-profits, the website tends to be a static placeholder of information. When the strategy starts to focus around e-mail, the thinking shifts to interactivity and community building. With coordination with the traditional offline development activity, e-mail can be a great way to boost overall response rates. For instance, timing an e-update to arrive in the in-box of your constituency within a short time of your regular mail or phone efforts can boost response.
One of the advantages of e-mail is that, if designed correctly, it can motivate people to check out a website to find additional information. And if the website is designed correctly, it will make giving to a particular project easy and convenient for those that are inclined to make use of the web for financial transactions whenever possible. But it comes down to strategy.
I’ll have some more thoughts on what a web strategy might look like in the next post. Stay tuned.