In my interacting with many Non-profit organizations, I have noticed certain tendencies and assumptions regarding their online brand and outreach. Below are listed the three most common issues I have observed.
1) Not taking the time to understand the medium – The Web/Internet is a growing and changing medium. It has it’s own inherent set of freedoms and limitations. Much like a painter that learns to work in oils or a print designer that learns the limitations of a printing press, Non-profit communicators must learn the Web has it’s own unique environment. The Web is much more than a delivery method – it is an interactive community; a forum for technological advancement; a means of personal expression; a place for business and learning; a resource for encouragement. Not knowing these things nor taking the time to get to know them does more harm than good.
2) Short Sightedness – With all the glitz and glamour that the Web and web-related technology offers it is easy to get pulled off course and mission by the latest innovations. Keep a focused long-term goal and use the Web as one of the means of achieving that goal. Adopt new technologies as they fit into your mission and not the other way around.
3) Follower vs. Leader – Unless Non-profits understand the uniqueness of the Web (and how to leverage that) and have the tenacity to stick to their stated mission they will always follow cultural trends regarding interactive media. As service-oriented organizations, they can take a leadership role in how others think about and use the Web.
Strive to be excellent and innovative in your organization, presentation, content, and delivery. The Web, though no longer in its infancy, is still a powerful and growing environment. Do not short change your online efforts.
Hire the best you can. Do the best you can. Have fun.