Twice in the last 6 months the American people have opened their hearts and wallets to help those affected by natural disaster. The first outpouring of donations came as a result of a devastating hurricane season that affected an area from the Atlantic coast of Florida to Texas and north to Pennsylvania. The second outpouring was a result of the Asian tsunami of December 26, 2004.
Particularly in our fast-paced world, a nonprofit's online presence; Internet strategy and technical infrastructure are tested within minutes of the first news story. Some nonprofits were ready. Some were not.
An internet strategic plan can help your nonprofit be ready for the next outpouring of donations due to a natural disaster, an escalated civil war that results in millions of refugees, or an oil spill that contaminates a watershed.
A successful internet strategic plan is a road map with clear goals and tactics to reach those goals. A successful plan accomplishes several core objectives:
Create and start executing an Internet strategic plan. For those nonprofits that had already started down this road, their sites and systems were up and running to collect the outpouring of funds. Their brand was established. They were ready to launch a keyword campaign. A significant portion of their donor base knew where to go to quickly and efficiently give - the web site.
- Aligns with the agency mission. Your web site and email communications should reflect your overall brand and reiterate the good work you do.
- Establishes clear goals for the site and email communications that propel the donor along the development track. Goals should work to acquire new visitors, involve them in your mission and work, convert them in to donors or advocates, and broaden and deepen the relationship. Goals should have time frames and measurements of success attached to them.
- Addresses the needs of online audiences. A website is unique in that you have no entrance into a prospect's home or office unless they invite you. Therefore, an Internet strategy must keep the web visitors' needs in mind. What do they want from a nonprofit's site or email newsletter? Make it easy for them to find it online.
- Integrates online efforts with traditional fundraising and communications programs. The message must be consistent using each mode of communications in the most effective way. The Internet is about instant information and communication. It's the front line in a disaster or emergency, but it is also a cost-effective way to communicate more regularly with your donor base.
- Establishes the appropriate roles for personnel. This is crucial in everyday situations, but becomes imperative in times of crisis. Create guidelines that establish who posts content, who signs off on email communications, what the role of the IT division is. Go one step further and create web content guidelines. Should every page dealing with an emergency have a donate button? Is one division responsible for spearheading this work?
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