the net and the 3rd sector

November 2, 2006 at 5:09 am 6 comments

Every organization needs an online presence. Not for profit organizations perhaps even more than traditional companies. Although almost every NFP has a website, not every NFP is using the Internet effectively. A few of the key uses an NFP needs to capitalize on are:

i) Communicating Key Messages and Providing Information. Making sure the message is consistent through out the website is key. Also, it is important that a NFP site be well designed and free of clutter and stale information. Other aspects include having contact information on every page within a site and a lot of information on the topic, particularly if the NFP is cause or disease based.

ii) Staying up to Date with Various Publics. A great way for an NFP to encourage dialogue and keep visitors coming back is to have a blog on its site. Blogs provide an excellent forum for people sharing a similar situation – living with leukemia for example – to converse and share ideas and resources.

iii)Fundraising. A big one. There’s no question that the ability to donate to an organization online has distinct advantages, such as anonymity and no schedule constraints. However, simply having a “Donate Now” button on a website is not enough to entice and maintain donors. The actual interface to enter financial information is only part of the equation. Building a relationship with potential donors is also important as is maintaining that relationship after a donation has been received. A big part of giving means donors want to know their money is being put to good use. That involves managing contact information so donors, if they choose, can be on a mailing list for newsletters and annual reports, or receive information about upcoming events. In some cases, it may be worth the expense of having the donation page on an organization’s webpage link to an outside fundraising firm. Some innovations include immediate tax receipts, personalized thank you emails, and for the organizations, completed databases of donors.

Here are some excellent resources if you are looking for more information.

One stop shopping for NFPs. Tonnes of information regarding technology, trends, news, jobs and more. An essential research tool and Canadian to boot.
American version of Charity Village with an extensive cache of scholarly articles about NFPs. Lots of information about fundraising in particular.
Another great American resource with heavy focus on fundraising and the sociology of NFPs and community organizations.
An all purpose site for strategies on dealing with the media.

canadian cancer society

canadian diabetes association
Two NFP sites from organizations that “get it”



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Emerging Trends of Public Relations in Political Campaigns The world is moving faster than what we think

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Audrey Korol  |  November 3, 2006 at 2:27 pm

    Hi Michael,

    Interesting topic, eh! I thought you provided a great point that NGOs need to comunicate their KEY messages on their sites. This may seem like a “no brainer” to most of us, but many sites are boggled down with SO MUCH information and clutter, which, in effect, turns viewers away.

    Just a quick question. In your research, did you come across any clear examples of NGOs that are successfully capitalizing the use of the Internet, e.g. blogs?


  • 2. michael  |  November 3, 2006 at 5:43 pm

    hey there audrey
    thanks for the comment
    unfortunately, the myriad NFP websites I went to had not yet embraced the blog
    culture. I think there’s still a lot of fear – of the unknown, of receiving a negative post, of “who is going to set this up.” It’s coming though, I have some ‘inside information’ that the IABC is going to be having a panel discussion on blogs and podcasts in the near future.

  • 3. Megan Zinn  |  November 3, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Michael,

    This is definately a very interesting topic, and you did a great job of addressing the key issues with non-profits and effective use of the internet.

    I had a great opportunity with a small non-profit organization in London, where I assisted in re-vamping the website.

    One thing that must be considered when we look at what “must” be done to use the internet to its full potential is that not all non-profit organizations have the excess revenue to spend on their website. It’s great that you mentioned the possibility of using an outsourced fundraising firm to link to when doing online donations. However, this option is not cheap. But, if the organization can afford it, it can make their lives so much easier because they don’t have to print off and mail their own tax receipts.

    Another consideration is the CRA’s guidelines on donation forms. Sometimes, when donors wish to direct their money to a specific initiative in the charity, CRA requires written direction which is not an option on the internet.

    The two websites that you referenced as NFP’s that “get it” are fantastic examples of what can be done with a webpage. Just remember that, as it says in the Annual Report on both of those sites, the Canadian Diabetes Association had a net annual revenue of over $75 million nationally and The Canadian Cancer Society had a net annual revenue of over $75 million in Ontario alone. It makes it much easier for them to spend extra money.

    One more thing (sorry, I’m ranting here lol) you mentioned using blogs. I think this will become a great tool in communicating with donors and receiving donor feedback. Right now, the key age demographic for major or planned giving is the same segment of the population that doesn’t have the internet. But, in the future, it will be a great tool, and can start to be introduced now by the younger people who are involved.

    Sorry this is so long. Dana can tell you that getting me started on non-profit organizations is a dangerous thing 🙂

  • 4. michael brown  |  November 4, 2006 at 2:03 am

    Hey there Megan
    thanks so much for the feedback
    I actually cover some of your points in my paper proper, but out of consideration for brevity,
    i posted the reader’s digest version.
    It’s kinda neat / weird that “real people” outside the class are reading this page.

    What NFP’s have you worked with and what are some of the biggest challenges you faced?
    thanks again
    have a great day

  • 5. Megan Zinn  |  November 4, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Michael,

    I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “real person” just yet…I only graduated from CCPR in April, so I still feel very connected to the program. I don’t know if you were at orientation in August, but I was one of the grad speakers.

    I’ve had the opportunity to work with a great charity called Jesse’s Journey ( It’s based here in London. I also did my internship with the Grand Theatre. Non-profit is definately where my passion lies, so all the experience I can get with them is great!

  • 6. michael  |  November 8, 2006 at 2:20 pm

    Hey There Megan
    I remember you from the orientation and your talk about
    jesse’s journey – a great charity indeed
    I definitely am drawn to the NFP sector most
    thanks again for the comments and insight


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