Websites Simplified

By Lynn Sygiel, editor, Charitable Advisors

In May, we asked readers for perfect tech or software solutions that have reduced costs or saved time. Last week, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful and the Indiana Society of Association Executives shared use of tablets and software that improved the organizations’ productivity. This week, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center and Small Box recommendations focus on website integration and social media.

MARY RIGG NEIGHBORHOOD CENTER

CHALLENGE

Treva Burgess wears at least two hats at the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. She is the volunteer coordinator and manager of the website.

Burgess was frustrated with the number of communication platforms she had to use. She knew there had to be a better way to disseminate information about events, allow clients to register for activities and share information with supporters and board members. The center’s existing website had no way to connect to the center’s newsletter and event registrations, which were all managed by using separate providers. In addition, the website wasn’t mobile friendly.

But the largest challenge was that with all these different programs, the center’s audience – both clients and supporters — didn’t often land on the center’s website and learn about its mission, message and overall services.

SOLUTION

While Burgess was negotiating with a company for a new website design, hosting and support services, a Mary Rigg board member recommended evrconnect, a Noblesville-based company. The board member, who is a nonprofit consultant, was aware of the company because other nonprofits had used its services.

Burgess did some investigating and found evrconnect charged fraction of the price, and she liked what she saw. The company was founded by three men who were working in the tech field, and created the company to help nonprofits do more with less and integrate design and content management, donor management and crm, fundraising, volunteer management and communications.

Burgess said for her, the most difficult part of the process was designing a site map. She sought input and ideas from Mary Rigg staff members to determine how they wanted to use the site, and then created a map of how it would work. Then they looked at sites evrconnect had created and borrowed basic design elements before meeting with the company’s staff. As part of the process, they realized they needed to refresh the center’s logo, and do some branding with the site launch. Working with another company, the logo was designed before the launch.

The website launched three months ago. A comprehensive dashboard tells the administrator who has posted comments, added a photo or content. One of Burgess’ co-workers handles the events calendar posts and can update regularly. Now as event details need to be changed, they can be updated, which is a simple process.

Right after the site was launched, Burgess realized that recurring events couldn’t be changed. If she wanted to delete or change a regularly scheduled Tuesday food pantry on the events calendar, she couldn’t do it. She says, however, evrconnect understood the problem and was quick to remedy it.

Soon others in the organization will receive training to ensure managing the information on the website and keeping it up to date.

The center uses the blog feature for news items, and has added a historical section with pictures. Established in 1911 as Foreign House and Immigrant Aid Association, it the organization initially served as a center of learning and recreation for foreign immigrants coming to Indianapolis to work in industrial and meatpacking plants.

Registration for particular events has been simplified. Annually, one of the center’s largest fundraisers is a dodgeball tournament. This year there were 19 teams, each with eight team members. “That’s a lot of folks to register,” said Burgess. “But it was easy, and right on the website, which didn’t happen with previous registration system.”

One website feature that was used this summer was peer-to-peer fundraising. It allows individuals to set-up a campaign to solicit their friends for contributions. The center used it for its Fill-the-Bus campaign. During the summer, Mary Rigg staff work with 25 middle school students on college and career readiness. As part of the program, the kids visit area colleges. With this website feature, some college alumni helped raised funds to get the bus to their aluma mater.

Not all pages are public. Take for example, the Connecting Hearts and Home a partnership between United Way of Central Indiana, the Eli Lilly company and Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center. The pilot program started in March, and will continue for a year. Five Lilly staffers are ambassadors and work with Burgess to identify needs and help communicate and recruit from the pool of 400-company volunteers. Burgess noted, however, the difficulty communication with volunteers in large company, is often e-newsletters are blocked by the company’s firewall. With the new website, she can create a specific url that she can provide to the Lilly volunteers so they can check volunteer opportunities.

Similarly, a board-only section will provide each board member with an individual login, and can contain materials like bylaws, minutes and agendas, making it easy for board members to have access materials needed for their position.

Soon, Burgess will migrate the newsletter to the website from e-newsletter provider, integrating another communication tool. Other website services on her radar are volunteer sign-ins, which will keep a comprehensive volunteer profile.

INVESTMENT

  • Flat fee for the design $1,500, but additional costs to customize components
  • Hosting and on-going customer support is $200 monthly
  • The company regularly backs up the site, and helped the nonprofit become PCI compliant so they could take donations online using BluePay

BENEFITS

  • Streamlined communication for clients, donors, staff, particularly those not in the building but working in schools, and interns
  • Can update information easily and quickly
  • Ongoing support from web-design company

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