Let me preface this entire post by saying I’m in no way, shape of form a Web developer. My role on most web-related projects I’ve been a part of during my career (including my current role) has been focused on strategy and content. I partner with people much smarter than me in web development to handle the rest (people like my friend Toby Cryns).
Recently, I worked with a local non-profit to develop a new web site for the organization. This decision was a result of some initial online and social research we conducted, which told us the following:
* The current Web site was difficult to use and tough to update in a timely manner.
* It lacked the two-way functionality the non-profit craved.
* It wasn’t easy for staff to access–very technical.
So, our recommendation was to explore using WordPress as a content management hub for a new site. As a nice side benefit, it would also give us a chance to update the content on the site (some of which was outdated) and incorporate more of a storytelling component to the site (one of our main strategies to accomplish the organizations two main goals: increasing donations and the number of volunteers that come in the door).
We launched the new site in late April. And now, we’re already looking into “phase two” additions.
As I reflect back on the project (which only took us eight weeks soup to nuts), I couldn’t help but think that WordPress would make a great back-end for many non-profits. After all, many other non-profit organizations face the same challenges as my client: A lack of time and resources and more technical skill sets among staff to update the site.
Now, keep in mind, there certainly are risks to using WordPress as a Web platform. Chief among them the probability of getting hacked eventually. But, in my estimation that’s a risk worth taking.
Here’s five reasons non-profits could benefit by using WordPress as a Web platform:
* It’s a great content management system. For non-profit organizations, storytelling is usually a key component to their PR strategies. It’s one of their most useful assets, to be honest. So, why not build a site that makes it as easy as possible to tell those stories?
* Easy to use/train staff. Unlike more complex Web tools, WordPress is fairly easy to use. The WISIWYG editor is virtually a Word interface with a few tweaks. You can easily upload videos and photos without knowing any code. And, for front-line staff (and even communications directors) at non-profit organizations that may not have the time or resources to learn these Web tools, WordPress is a nice alternative. Yes, it requires a little training, but within an hour, you should be able to teach staff how to use WordPress to add content to your site.
* Incorporate shareable media seamlessly. Blog platforms like WordPress make it incredibly easy to paste in shareable social content. Take YouTube. In WordPress all you need to do is paste in the embed code from your YouTube video and voila, instant video.
* Add contributors without losing editorial control. WordPress also makes it fairly easy to add individual contributors–staff that can add content all on their own to the site (should you wish). WordPress also allows you to give certain folks “editor” rights–designed for people you want to review and post content. So, in this context, you could have multiple people from across the organization adding stories/content on a regular basis and a communicator or PR person reviewing content daily/weekly and posting according to a pre-determined editorial calendar. This way, you’re adding fresh content regularly–but you’re also ensuring the content is on-target and error-free.
* A more affordable option. When I hear stories of small businesses spending tens of thousands of dollars on Web sites, I just cringe. Non-profits are in the same boat. They usually don’t need a complex or high-performing Web site. They just need one that allows them to share their story–and key facts and details about the organization. Pretty simple, right? With an application like WordPress, you can put together a site for under 10k–easily. You’ll want to make sure you’re working with a communications/PR/marketing firm/consultant and a WordPress developer. But, that combination should be enough to build a useful and effective site–all for about half (if not less) the cost of a traditional Web site.
For those of you who work with non-profits, I’d be interested in your views. I’d also love your feedback on my client’s site, if you’re so inclined 😉