Non-profits: Leading or Competing on the Web?

By E. Brown

Non-profits: Leading or Competing on the Web?“Having influence” is a broad definition of leadership. Within the Non-profit community we often talk about how organizations might take a leadership role on the World Wide Web. Is it possible to be a leader, considering such popular sites as Microsoft, Time Warner, Yahoo!, eBay, Amazon, and Google?

I say yes. Before you write me off as an idealist, think about a few things. While it is true that many non-profits have neither the budgets nor the staffs that the companies noted above have, big budgets and big staffs do not automatically secure the popularity or success of a website. Think of the small start-ups that have shattered that kind of thinking.

Okay. Now, what can we do?

First, we must ask the question: With the Internet as part of our plan to reach the world, are we committed to using this medium to make a lasting impact? The following are checkpoints to gauge where you are as an organization in your commitment to use the Internet.

1) Have clear direction. Define the purpose of your Web-based initiative, then make sure your team has clear direction about the task at hand.

2) Build for success. Ensure that the structure of your team has the components for success. First, create the right motivating tasks that generate results. Second, compose a good mix of diversely skilled team members. Third, set the expectations for how your team should work together within the boundaries of your organization.

3) Give full support. Give your staff access to training and consultation. Share appropriate information with your staff and include them in planning. Provide your team with the resources they need to get the job done – tools, work space, or whatever the job requires.

This may be revolutionary in your organizational thinking and it should be. Our mission is not to compete with the popular sites on the Web. We never will be able to compete with them. Our calling is to follow the vision of our respective organizations and influence the lives of all who come into contact with us.


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