Stop Treating Your Nonprofit Website Like a Filing Cabinet

Sometimes when we help our nonprofit clients relaunch a website we feel as if we’ve walked into an episode of “Storage Wars,” the cable television reality show.

If you haven’t seen “Storage Wars,” here’s how it works: An auctioneer sells a storage locker’s contents after the rent has gone unpaid for months. Buyers have five minutes to determine what treasures may be buried inside an often jam-packed unit and bid on the unit if so inclined.

Watching people struggle to find something valuable in a sea of clutter makes for great reality television. It doesn’t, however, make for great websites.

Oftentimes, in trying to balance demands for information and transparency from upper management, donors and boards, many nonprofits treat their websites like a filing cabinet, adding – and never removing – every report, news release, or document of possible interest. The result is an online labyrinth that even the most enthusiastic visitors will have trouble navigating.

Here are three steps you can take to prevent your organization’s website from becoming an Internet locker fit for its own segment on “Storage Wars.”

1) Post Wisely and Cull Regularly

Ask yourself who needs the information and what action you want them to take. You’re wasting time and money if you post material the audiences you serve don’t want or can’t use.

Review your content once a year to identify what you can delete or reorganize. Hint: You may not need to keep your news releases from 1999…or even five years ago.

2) Become a Blogger

A well-run blog makes your website fresh and dynamic because you are regularly adding new material. And the structure of a blog allows you to put content on your home page that might become buried in an old-fashioned website.

For example, you can include a box alongside your blog that lists top five posts – some perhaps years old — that have received the most comments or views. You can assign categories or tags to your posts so readers can easily find older content on different topics. And blog posts push your organization’s rankings higher on Google, making it easier to find you online.

3) Create a Content Strategy

Not everything you publish belongs online. Create a content strategy that supports your nonprofit’s strategic and communications plans. This gives you a written plan to decide what goes on the website and what stays off. It also helps create agreement within your nonprofit about what belongs online.

Your content strategy should describe who you want to reach and what information you will publish to reach them. It also should set yardsticks for success, such as engagement of key influencers, that contribute to important organizational goals such as fundraising, membership or policy change.

How do you keep the content of your nonprofit’s website up to date and accessible? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Mac Prichard

Mac started Prichard Communications in 2007 to serve nonprofits, foundations and public agencies after a long career working in the public and nonprofit sectors and with elected officials. Mac lives in Portland’s Ladd’s Addition where he is often spotted taking Instagram photos while walking his dog Kai, a Weimaraner.

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