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[ Creative Computing ]

Non-Profit Organizations
Take advantage of the Web

Be prepared for tomorrow, take advantage of the Internet today!

The web is already widely accepted among business leaders, academics, organizations, small businesses and individuals. The internet is a rich resource and a powerful communication tool.

Its is important for nonprofits to have realistic expectations about the Internet. Having a web sites won't guarantee an avalanche of donations nor will it reach all who may be concerned with your organization's mission. It does however, have the potential to reach and involve new audiences on a large scale. The web is becoming an essential tool for operating a nonprofit organization.

So how does an organization take advantage of the Internet?

There are several means of reaching your goals and taking advantage of what the Internet can do for your organization.

Various programmers provide their scripts FREE to non-profit organizations. This allows organizations to utilize some of the most popular and efficient web site features. There are no fees charged for the script itself! Many graphics artists allow the use of their graphics free for non-profit organizations.

Interesting article: All web sites associated with the federal government (and an increasing number of states) will need to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Understand how your organizational site must met the standards to qualify for any federal funding. Creative Computing can help you to meet these standards!

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A web site provides a means to keep up-to-date information available 24 hours a day for surfers to locate information regarding your organization, current activities, current news and media, etc.

Good sites gain attention. Many people on the web have come to learn about organizations through casual surfing.

There are now several non-profit organization directories. It is important to be listed in these directories. These directories are used by those seeking organizations for various reasons including:

  • Gain an understanding of the organization
  • Learn how to get involved
  • Make a donation
  • To network with like organizations
  • Volunteers seeking organizations
  • Students seeking apprenticeship programs

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Public Education

Your site can be used to educate the public regarding an important social problem. You want to grab their attention and educate at the same time.

If your organization is more local to your city or state you would provide links to organizations in other states which deal with the same issues. This provides a means of sharing information between like minded organizations and opens your site to a larger audience.

Reciprocal links provide an excellent means of exchanging information.

Your site content can be enhanced by utilizing several features including

  • Bulletin Board Forums
  • Newsletters
  • News & Articles
  • Links to related sites
  • Resource Links
  • Web Rings

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The web provides a means of posting complete information regarding your fund raising events. Posters, newspaper articles, etc. should include your URL for further information regarding your organization.

There are several ways for donors to make direct donations without worrying. If your server host provider includes the use of a secure server, you can now easily be setup to accept donations via the internet.

Personally still not trusting the internet with credit card information I suggest the options of: Emailing their check information, Faxing a copy of their check, or send via US Postal Service.

Online forms make this process simple for users.

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Volunteer Recruitment

Volunteer recruitment and management is a relatively well developed and proven use of the Internet. The Internet allows for a new and powerful way for people to support nonprofits by becoming virtual volunteers.

Virtual volunteers have more control over their time and the ease of working from home with the convenience of online communication. All the factors that motivated volunteers face-to-face still operate over the Internet. The internet seems to create a spirit of community in many aspects.

Of course, your can use your web presence for recruiting volunteers that show up on your premises.

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Service Delivery

A web site can become a powerful way to deliver services for those organizations in the business of providing people with information. The services that nonprofits provide will increasingly involve delivering the right information to the right person.

For example, National Center for Missing Children utilizes the web to post pictures of lost or missing children. Their database contains missing children around the country. They also utilize placing photo links on many web sites as a means of promoting their services. I currently have their photo links on three of my sites.

Resource links also provide a means of linking to sites providing related information of other organizations with similar interests.

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To organize and get people around an issue, an organization must get the word out quickly and provide people with convenient tools for responding. Because it's so easy to update a web site and have the vital details available instantly, the web is a perfect way to encourage people to act on issues that greatly concern them.

The use of online forms provide an excellent tool for visitor responses. The proper use of autoresponders is another means of quickly sending requested information.

If their is a call for action when one can email a legislative representative, you can provide a link to where they can obtain that information. If local or state wide, then a direct link to the single representative's email and/or web site.

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There are many advantages to using email ... it is fast and reliable and preserves a written record. Email provides a cost savings in communicating with others and distributing information.

You would initiate the means of corresponding via email by making available the email addresses of organization staff.

You can also provide a quick and easy form containing selected staff or a general email address.

Newsletters are also a great means of communication. Keep visitors informed of changes to your site, highlight new postings to promote return visits as your site changes.

Email addresses should be posted on all printed material along with the URL of your web site.

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