What's on our mind
Our AmeriCorps VISTA team member, Elissa Thomas recently received a thank you letter from West Seattle Helpline in regards to our Tech Assessment Program. Learn more about the difference this program made to one small poverty-fighting nonprofit...
With my time at HandsOn Tech winding down -- only 8 days left -- our major projects have been wrapped up and classes for the year are over. I received a thank-you email from Tara Byrne, executive director at West Seattle Helpline, that she wanted me to share. Tara and Nadine from WSH participated in the Tech Assessment Cohort from April through June to learn more about their organization’s technology needs.
West Seattle Helpline is a social service agency that provides information, referrals, and one-time limited financial assistance to help working families in need. Through my tech assessment I learned that West Seattle Helpline has a common challenge experienced by nonprofits of similar size: organizational databases are varied and lack integration. Information is stored in various spreadsheets and databases, and, as a result, it can be difficult to find specific information easily. On the other hand, WSH has embraced social media as a part of its online communications. The nonprofit has a Facebook presence, and social media links are on the organization’s website. The website was recently updated and can be updated by staff.
During the course of the cohort program, Tara and Nadine attended our training workshops to learn more about social media and websites for nonprofits. They learned how to create a simple social media policy and an editorial calendar that encompasses all of WSH’s online communication channels and includes measurable goals and metrics tracking. They are excited to develop greater integration between the Facebook pages, websites, and newsletter would help build a stronger fan base and increase the visibility of West Seattle Helpline’s important work.
Tara had this to say about the Tech Assessment program:
"NPower's Hand's On Tech AmeriCorps team has been extremely beneficial to the West Seattle Helpline. With their guidance and expertise, we have been able to greatly upgrade our technology, creating systems that are more efficient and better serve our clients. Prior to this program we felt lost in regards to many of the opportunities out their to greatly improve our technology. Faced with limited resources ourselves, accessing insights and advice was limited.
This program has helped us answer those questions through workshops, face to face meetings, and over the phone conversations. The Hands On Tech team has helped us get the most out of resources such as Google Apps and Facebook. They have provided great insights on web design and databases.
The Hand's On Tech team created a Technical Assessment and Strategy Map that the West Seattle Helpline uses as a guide to work towards getting the most out of technology to assist the community. We no longer feel lost, but are excited about where this new technology will take us. Thank you NPower's Hand On Tech AmeriCorps Team!"
Thanks for those kind words, Tara! Our team wishes you and West Seattle Helpline all the best.
- Elissa Thomas
Pacific Continental Bank sponsors a series of Bankers’ Hours workshops about various nonprofit issues, and last Friday I presented on Social Media. While most nonprofits have an idea that social media can play an important role in their communications arsenal, finding ways to strategically plan, implement and measure can still be a bit of stumbling block. With this presentation I focused on using real-life examples from nonprofits to show 5 ways that nonprofits can successfully use social media....
Pacific Continental Bank sponsors a series of Bankers’ Hours workshops about various nonprofit issues, and last Friday I presented on Social Media. While most nonprofits have an idea that social media can play an important role in their communications arsenal, finding ways to strategically plan, implement and measure can still be a bit of stumbling block. With this presentation I focused on using real-life examples from nonprofits to show 5 ways that nonprofits can successfully use social media.
Take your mission with you
While this can be a rather obvious concept, it can sometimes be difficult to actually enact. If your primary motivation on joining Pinterest is “because my board member told me I should,” then you need to re-evaluate your social media goals. One good way to get started with this is the fantastic Social Media Audit, put together by Ash Shepherd, which will help your org take a more strategic approach to your social media efforts.
Tell your story
There are lots of ways to connect with your donors and volunteers these days. The frequency and immediacy of social media means you don’t have to wait until your annual report to share the successes (and failures!) of your year. Often times it is the small stories and slice-of-life updates that gather the most attention on social media.
Local nonprofit, Treehouse does a great job of celebrating small wins and stories.
An important part of any relationship is being open to both positive and negative feedback. Creating a social media page, stream, etc. opens your organization up to receiving much more feedback from your supporters and constituents. While we all hope for the positive kind of feedback, it is also important to prepare for the negative kind. Check out Socialbrite’s post about how the YMCA of Metro Chicago does just that.
There are many ways of increasing engagement on various social networks, but one of the recurring refrains is: “visuals win.” Even if your org doesn’t work to rescue baby goats, elephants and ducks, you too can find ways to include more visual content in your status updates.
For example check out this fun image recently shared by the AmeriCorps VISTA Facebook page.
Get a routine
As nonprofit professionals, social media is often just one of the many daily tasks you need to accomplish; therefore, an important part of maximizing your impact is creating a routine. Three important parts of this are:
- Curating content: My personal favorite tool for helping me find interesting and relevant content to share is through RSS and Google Reader. For more information about how your nonprofit can benefit from using this or other feedreaders, check out our blog post: 5 reasons your nonprofit should be using Google Reader.
- Creating an editorial/content calendar: Having a plan in place that takes into account upcoming events, current campaigns and integrates all your online communication channels is a great way to increase the efficiency of your social media. Shai Coggins of Vervely has a wonderful post on Content Calendar 101: Tips & Tools to serve as a guide in creating your own schedule.
- Scheduling posts: Speaking of schedules, there are many different free apps that allow you to schedule tweets. Just this spring Facebook rolled out scheduling options for all Pages. Planning out a week’s posts at a time can be a great way to reduce your overall social media time commitment.
Ways to learn more
The full slide deck for this presentation can be found over in the Knowledge Center and if you want to pick-up the handouts used, you can find those here. Thanks again to Pacific Continental Bank for this opportunity and to all the nonprofits who attended and contributed such good questions and stories. While our summer brown bag series wrapped up today, make sure to sign up for our monthly e-news to keep up to-date with all future tech training opportunities.
- Abby Nafziger
While the importance of GooglePlus for all nonprofits has not been determined for sure, the advantages of its effect on SEO seems pretty clear. As an organization who works in the realm of nonprofit technology, it makes sense that NPower would have it’s own Google+ Page. Here are a few things I learned while creating ours and some links to the resources and tutorials that helped me out along the way...
While the importance of GooglePlus for all nonprofits has not been determined for sure, the advantages of its effect on SEO seems pretty clear. As an organization who works in the realm of nonprofit technology, it makes sense that NPower would have it’s own Google+ Page. Here are a few things I learned while creating ours and some links to the resources and tutorials that helped me out along the way.
Check out our very new Google Plus page and follow along as we dive into this new social media channel
No Page without a personal Profile
Just like Facebook, you can’t create a public Page without first having a personal Profile. Thankfully, these two accounts won’t be linked publicly and even more important to nonprofit orgs, you can add additional managers to the public Page once you create it.
You can’t circle profiles until they circle you first
However, once you do make a connection with an individual, the information you can learn from them tends to be much richer than what you can learn about individual Facebook fans (that information only extends to what the user is willing to share publicly). Also, you can also circle other Pages and connect with fellow nonprofits without them circling you first.
Google Plus brings with it SEO benefits
One of the biggest reasons for the nonprofits to be on Google Plus is new personal results section of Google Search. If a user has enabled Google Plus, they will see an option to include the information from their circled friends in their regular Google searches. Now, obviously this improvement in SEO is determined by two things:
- How much of your nonprofit’s audience is using Google Plus
- If you have built up a significant Google Plus community.
Don’t think that you can just create the page and forget about it though, you must post regular content (if not daily, than at least weekly) if you want to be found by people (and being found by people is how you get the SEO bump.
Whenever looking into a new service, social media channel or tech software, I love me some research. Fortunately, as is typical in the world of nonprofit technology, there is a lot of great information out there. Here are some of the links that I found especially helpful:
- Gideon Rosenblatt makes a strong case that Google Plus is for “Information Networkers” and that it more than most of the other major social networks rewards content curators. For more explanation, check out his excellent presentation “What is Google Plus? (Really)”
- Beth Kanter is the queen of content curation and can always be counted on to provide a great one stop shop on many issues in the nonprofit technology world. Her post Google + for Nonprofits, Invest Time or Not? Nonprofit Starter Steps, highlights the reasons why (or why not) your nonprofit might want to experiment with Google Plus.
- Heather Mansfield is another savvy source of nonprofit tech tips and tricks. Her How To: Create a Google + Page for your Nonprofit tutorial provides a good overview of how to actually set up your Google Plus nonprofit page. While the layout of Google Plus has had a few changes since this was published (mainly the addition of the cover photo), her set of screenshots will get you up and running quickly.
- Speaking of cover photo, the fine folks at Social Media Today, have all the cover photo dimensions and more for your Google Plus page.
- Last but not least, Debra Askanase curates a bunch of smart Google Plus resources and helps break down two big considerations for your nonprofit before jumping into Google Plus: Summarizing Google+ Pages: the Good, the Bad, the Possible.
- Abby Nafziger
The VISTA team was invited to present on social media at the 2012 VAN Conference on June 22 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The theme of the conference was “Embracing Change,” a timely focus. There was a packed room for our presentation, entitled “Volunteers & Social Media: Boost Communication and Build Community.” Click through for a full re-cap and the presentation slides...
The VISTA team was invited to present on social media at the 2012 VAN Conference on June 22 at the Lynnwood Convention Center. The theme of the conference was “Embracing Change,” a timely focus. There was a packed room for our presentation, entitled “Volunteers & Social Media: Boost Communication and Build Community.”
Many organizations already know how to use Facebook and Twitter or have a basic understanding of social media, but it can be a challenge to use it strategically. The presentation was designed to provide a brief introduction for newcomers to the social media world and to provide tips and guidance for the seasoned veterans in the room. The presentation covered:
- An overview of social media, including statistics
- Strategies to select a focus for a volunteer program (community building, storytelling, or information hub)
- Tips for better engagement with volunteers using Facebook and Twitter
- Ways to measure “return on engagement”
Social media for volunteer management
Nonprofit volunteer administrators can take advantage of free tools such as Facebook and Twitter to find creative ways to engage with their organization’s volunteers. Whether seeking to attract new volunteers or acknowledging current supporters, social media channels can play an important role in boosting communication and building community with nonprofit volunteers. Here are our 6 tactics for better engagement:
- Make it easy to help.
- Ask questions and elicit responses.
- Acknowledge, acknowledge, acknowledge.
- Be responsive.
- Be human.
- Make or share interesting content.
Social media networks like Facebook and Twitter are providing new ways to engage with a different demographic of nonprofit volunteers. Websites allow organizations to show impact and connect with constituents in visually appealing and creative ways.
The Oatmeal thanks a donor on Twitter with a hand-made cartoon
It is impossible to measure “return on engagement” for social media outreach if there aren’t strategies in place to collect information about engagement efforts. Some types of information are easier to quantify than others, such as counting the number of “likes” your organization has received from online fans or referral traffic from other websites.
Influence is harder to evaluate, and includes things like requests to re-post your content and invitations for you or your staff to write guest blog posts. Sentiment involves the general tone of user-generated content on your social media channels.
Helpful tools for measuring return on engagement for volunteer management are the sames we recommend for other forms of nonprofit outreach:
Interested in more free tech trainings?
If you didn’t make it to the social media for volunteer administrators training or would like additional information, here are some relevant training seminars we’ll be hosting in the near future:
- July 11 - Google Analytics Brown Bag
- July 18 - Search Engine Optimization
- July 25 - Social Media Intermediate Level
- August 1 - Facebook 101
If you’re looking for the slides from the VAN Conference presentation, head over to our Knowledge Center.
- Elissa Thomas
Last Monday we wrapped up our technology assessment project that included 13 nonprofits from around the community. We handed out shiny printed copies of the strategy maps that these organizations can take to their board, use to write grants or recruit volunteers, and start implementing simple solutions on their own. Click through to read all about it...
Last Monday we wrapped up our technology assessment project that included 13 nonprofits from around the community. We handed out shiny printed copies of the strategy maps that these organizations can take to their board, use to write grants or recruit volunteers, and start implementing simple solutions on their own.
Elissa demonstrates our commitment to having lots of yummy food at our meetings.
A big thank you to all our pilot cohort participants
We’d like to give a shout out to the 13 nonprofits that we were able to work with, which included one (or more) interviews and Q & A sessions regarding technology and up to three hands-on technology trainings:
- Peace for the Streets by Kids from the Streets
- Southeast Seattle Education Coalition
- Eastside Legal Assistance Program
- Seattle RecTech
- Helping Link
- Hunger Intervention Program
- Literacy Council of Seattle
- Friends of the Children King County
- Youth Media Institute
- Communities in Schools of Kent
- Communities in Schools of Puyallup
- West Seattle Helpline
- Housing Development Consortium
Lots of helpful feedback
Since this was our pilot program, we asked for some feedback such as what worked, what was helpful, what possible next steps were, and what didn’t work so well. Here is what a few participants had to say:
- “The tech assessment gives us concrete recommendations that we can take to our Board of Directors. The various trainings were also helpful in the fact that they helped us better understand our options as far as social media, websites, etc.”
- “Our organization enjoyed the workshops that were provided and wish there were more. The Hands On Tech staff were very friendly, approachable, and happy to help the best way they could in answering our questions.”
Overall the biggest suggestion for improvement was an increase in the number of trainings and more help with implementation of various technology solutions. While there are changes we hope to make in the next iteration of this project, we were happy to receive a lot of positive feedback. We’ll be passing all of information on to the next round of AmeriCorps VISTAs, so that next year’s cohort program will rock.
Common problems and common solutions
We also spent some time discussing common problems and solutions facing nonprofits with small budgets that we discovered as we went through the technology assessment and wrote the strategy maps for each nonprofit. It was a little surprising to discover the same pain points among nearly all of the nonprofits, and many solutions are free or low-cost and involve a relatively small time investment. Check out our slides in the Knowledge Center if you’re interested!
Stay tuned for information about next year's program
If you didn’t get a chance to participate in the cohort during our first round, stay tuned as 3 brand new AmeriCorp VISTAs will be arriving in late August to continue serving the community and helping nonprofits with technology solutions.
Missed any of our previous updates?
- Announcing our AmeriCorps free tech assessment project
- Kicking off the tech assessment project
- Tech assessment social media training re-cap
- Tech assessment Google for Nonprofits training re-cap
- Tech assessment Websites for Nonprofits training re-cap
- Stephen Eggers, Elissa Thomas, Abby Nafziger
As nonprofits, we all know the monumental task that handling organizational data can be. At NPower, we offer database services ranging from fully customized Salesforce or Dynamics CRMs to free brown bag trainings on Choosing a Database and Managing Potential Supporters. So we’re super excited to announce the launch of our newest offering to help your nonprofit turn those numbers, names and disjointed records into easily digestible data that improves efficiency and drives decision-making. Read all about it..
As nonprofits, we all know the monumental task that handling organizational data can be. At NPower, we offer database services ranging from fully customized Salesforce or Dynamics CRMs to free brown bag trainings on Choosing a Database and Managing Potential Supporters. So we’re super excited to announce the launch of our newest offering to help your nonprofit turn those numbers, names and disjointed records into easily digestible data that improves efficiency and drives decision-making.
Introducing FlexIt Database Maintenance and Support
At its core, FlexIt is a flexible service that gives you the support you need, when you need it. Take advantage of our Scheduled Support services (covered by the program’s up-front flat fee), while keeping the flexibility to call us for support when ad-hoc issues come up. FlexIt helps to ensure that your organization’s database maintains its health and efficiency over time. Scheduled Support services include:
- An annual database review & assessment
- Coaching sessions for staff
- Data cleanup support
Curious to learn more?
For all the details, head over to FlexIt Database Maintenance and Support or better yet, get in touch with our Client Engagement Manager, to learn how this service might be a good fit for your nonprofit.
As a part of our ongoing free brown bag presentations on a range of topics applicable to anyone working in the nonprofit sphere, we are proud to announce Video for Nonprofits. Our guest presenter will be Greg Tuke, an international video and social media consultant. Register now for this interactive (Greg will be bringing video cameras with him!) free workshop. Now in Greg's own words...
As a part of our ongoing free brown bag presentations on a range of nonprofit technology topics, we are proud to announce Video for Nonprofits. Our guest presenter will be Greg Tuke, an international video and social media consultant. Register now for this interactive (Greg will be bringing video cameras with him!) free workshop.
Making compelling video: the next best thing to being there
Tahrir square, Egypt, 2011 Getty Images
For a decade, I worked with schools in the most racially diverse zip code in America, 98118. This vibrant community is just a short, 10 minute ride down the street from the NPower NW office. Yet, like much of the rest of America, it was tragically isolated from the world at large. So, ten years ago I decided to quit my job to see if we could do something about this. And I hoped the emerging communication technologies might help.
Only a small minority of Americans travel in their lifetimes outside America. Fewer still travel to developing countries with dramatically different cultures from our own. Yet it is these experiences that consistently alter how we see ourselves and others, and create breakthroughs in developing our own empathy and cross-cultural understanding.
I had two big questions as I began this 3 month journey to Central America in the fall of 2003, my first stop on what has turned into an eleven year journey. First, would students in other countries want to connect directly with Americans? And second, even if they did, would they have the technology and know-how to do it?
What I discovered stunned me. Not only did students and teachers and community folks want to connect, but that in some respects, the technology and know-how far surpassed what we had in America! I first saw this in Guatemala one day, traveling for eight long hours, first by chicken-bus, then pick-up, then in a small, wooden boat to a dirt-road village nestled in swamplands near the Pacific. As I walked through the village looking for water to quench my thirst after the long ride, I walked into a small 8 by 10 room that was alive with loud teenagers. All sitting in front of computers, playing games and on Skype talking with friends. The lab was run by a 16 year old girl. In my halting Spanish, I asked where she learned to repair and troubleshoot the computers and she said from her brother, who just “picked it up somewhere”. There were no computers at any school in the village, but somehow, somewhere, villagers were getting access to computers and learning to make them work. Yes, it’s true, the generator would breakdown regularly, losing electricity for an hour or two (you learned quickly to hit “save” often), but people were finding all kinds of ways to get the most out of what they had.
Since then I have found this to be true in the wildest places I have worked: From villages in South Africa, Peru, and Gaza, to urban neighborhoods in Jordan, Senegal, and Morocco, people are using live video conferences, making documentary videos and other forms of social media in more sophisticated and creative ways than we are in the US. Some of the tech tools are more advanced than ones found in the states. But even more common is to see enormous creativity in squeezing the most out of whatever tech is available. Organizations like Witness.org and Soliya are using video technology and social media throughout the Middle East and elsewhere to build cross-cultural understanding and build support for causes they care deeply about.
Wednesday, June 27, at noon at the NPower NW office, I will be teaching some of the lessons I have learned in my travels on how to make compelling videos simply and easily for your cause. So you can then incorporate it into your everyday work, year-round.
Most of the students in zip code 98118 may never travel to Guatemala or meet the people you are serving in your organization, in person. But when we use these communication tools well, it’s the next best thing to being there. And that changes lives.
-Greg Tuke, Tuke International Consulting
This fall, Greg will be teaching a class on Social Media/Global Change at Seattle University, and traveling to Egypt to work with students in Cairo as well. During the 11 week class, students in both countries will use live video conferencing and produce social media together. From 7,000 miles away.
This is a guest post from Matt Fikejs, Information & Referral Program Manager at 501 Commons. Matt writes periodically writes for the NPower Northwest blog to share updates from the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory. Click through for the full post...
This is a guest post from Matt Fikejs, Information & Referral Program Manager at 501 Commons. Matt writes periodically writes for the NPower Northwest blog to share updates from the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory.
If you’ve been a reader of NPower’s blog, in the last six months, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory. This collection of top-notch, online resources and recommended service providers is becoming the “first stop” for nonprofit pros stumped in their job. The convenience of the Resource Directory – coupled with free phone and email help – is tough to top.
But, we’ll be the first to admit: One collection can’t hold it all…nor should we try! There are several government, university, and capacity builder websites with a wealth of resources geared toward nonprofits. And instead of duplicating information, we’ve compiled our favorite websites in one place.
Need a quick link to the Secretary of State’s Charities Program or the State Legislature? How about a link to the IRS’ main nonprofit page? Or, are you interested in quality tools and templates from other local and national sources we especially like?
Here are the groups of weblinks you’ll find when you visit 501 Commons’ Best of the Web page, which is one of many features of the Statewide Nonprofit Resource Directory:
- Government Connections Here in Washington State
- Federal Government Agencies
- Our Favorite Websites for Nonprofit Resources
- More Recommended Online Resources
Enough about our “likes”! What are your favorite websites for nonprofit tools, best practices, and other resources? We’d love to hear about them and so would other nonprofits that face similar challenges. Please send me (email@example.com) the names and links to websites you’ve bookmarked and we’ll check them out for inclusion on the Best of the Web page.
Speaking of bookmarking, save the links here for future use. What you see is just the beginning as we’re working to grow our library of resources and online trainings. And did I mention free phone and email help? Call (206-682-6704) or write for personalized assistance.
- Matt Fikejs, Information & Referral Program Manager, 501 Commons
This week we hosted another workshop in our free brown bag series - Conquer Your Inbox: Tips & Tricks for Managing Email. The brown bag conversation focused on tips to more effectively organize and manage incoming emails, from changes in behavior to making use of tech tools that automate email processes. Read more...
This week we hosted another workshop in our free brown bag series - Conquer Your Inbox: Tips & Tricks for Managing Email. The brown bag conversation focused on tips to more effectively organize and manage incoming emails, from changes in behavior to making use of tech tools that automate email processes.
Elissa leads the charge for better email management!
Email Issues, Strategies, & Tools
Did you know that in 2011, the average worker sent and received around 120 emails each day, adding up to nearly 2 ½ hours of time spent handling email? Overload can occur after 50 emails, so the time and energy that goes into managing all these messages is becoming a significant obstacle to organizational productivity.
Strategies that can help combat the flood of communication include disabling new email alerts, setting the inbox to “work offline” and only checking email at specified times of the day. Another tip that can be quite handy is to help your organization find other tools for processes such as document collaboration, scheduling meetings or managing projects.
Email services now provide all sorts of tools for providing better inbox organization, from color-coded categories to sophisticated rules that enable email users to define specific functions like auto-archiving for messages with set criteria.
In addition, Gmail is taking auto-responses one step farther than the “vacation-rule” with “Canned Responses,” a Labs service that allows users to insert text into an email - - paired up with a filter, Gmail can even automatically send out the auto-message! A similar function in Outlook is called “Quick Parts” and provides users with the option of saving text to insert into emails, similar to a signature.
See the full offering of tips & tricks from the presentation in NPower’s Knowledge Center.
Looking for more Info?
If you want to read more about strategies for handling email demands, the Microsoft at Work blog is a helpful resource, as well as Inbox Zero.
For videos and tutorials specific to Gmail, Outlook, and other email providers, there is a vast amount of documentation available online. In particular, I recommend visiting:
Microsoft's Outlook training courses
How to Unclutter Your Outlook Inbox webinar
Become a Gmail Ninja advanced tips
Coming up next week
The next installment of our free brown bag series takes place Wednesday, June 20, with Social Media Fundraising 101.
- Elissa Thomas
Our third and final hands-on workshop for the Tech Assessment Cohort took place last week. Eight participants, representing various local nonprofits, took part in our workshop on website development, content management systems and basic design elements. Click through for the full re-cap...
Eight participants from the tech assessment program came to the NPower Northwest training lab for the third and final hands-on workshop focusing on website development, content management systems, and basic design elements. The training covered:
- Overview of how websites work
- WordPress CMS
- Google Sites
- Best practices for nonprofit websites
Elissa and Stephen help the class with their web creations
What are some important elements of nonprofit websites?
Determining basic website design best practices has a lot to do with taking on the mentality of a new visitor to your website. At this point, many of us have experience as website visitors, however we can become jaded to how our own org’s website appears to fresh eyes. What would they look for? What will help them find the info you want them to see and what will turn them away? Here are some foundational design best practices to help visitors find the content they need:
- Simple, accessible design that includes easy page navigation
- Action links displayed prominently on the home page (Donate, Volunteer, Subscribe, etc)
- Nonprofit mission is easily visible AND understandable.
- Contact us page with physical address, phone, email, social networking profiles, etc. (Including photos of staff can help lend a human feel to your org)
An important reminder: Use a tool, such as Google Analytics, that tracks visitor statistics so that you can have metrics to give feedback on your organization’s online engagement goals.
Tools We Recommend For Small Nonprofits
There are a substantial number of web content management systems available to individuals and organizations. We selected WordPress and Google Sites to showcase to the nonprofits in our tech assessment program because of ease of use and implementation. Both tools have a very gentle learning curve and don’t require a lot of other software in order to create live websites. A nonprofit with a WordPress account only needs access to a web server (In case you hadn’t heard, DreamHost, a popular hosting platform, offers free hosting plans to nonprofits). Google Sites requires no external server, as the websites created through this software is hosted directly on Google’s extensive server network.
A good example of a nonprofit site built in WordPress from our Tech Assessment member, Helping Link.
WordPress is an ideal platform for an organization that regularly posts news items and other content. The basic interface is easy to use and powerful, with a large directory of plugins available for more advanced customization. Built with open source software that uses PHP and MySQL, WordPress is used by many web developers, so it is likely that volunteers can be found to create or further develop nonprofit websites.
Google Sites, on the other hand, is more suited for an organizational website that does not need to be updated frequently. The interface is familiar for anyone who is used to using the Google Apps suite, and a major strength is the ease at which objects can be added to web pages: images, YouTube videos, maps, calendars, blogs, documents, and so on.
We did hands-on exercises with mock accounts so that everyone could get real experience creating pages and posts in WordPress and websites using Google Sites. The results weren’t so perfect, but demonstrated that everyone was learning.
If you missed the Websites for Nonprofits training, or would like additional information, here are some relevant training seminars we’ll be hosting in the near future:
- July 11 - Google Analytics Brown Bag
- July 18 - Search Engine Optimization (briefly covering Google Webmaster tools)
If you’re looking for the slides from Monday’s presentation, head over to our Knowledge Center.
- Elissa Thomas and Abby Nafziger