Web Watch: Anxiety-Free Interaction
Those of us over the age of 14 with busy lives are, perhaps, just catching up with the latest in user-based interactive Web sites. Sites like Wikipedia, MySpace and YouTube rely on heavy traffic and participation from Web visitors to generate fresh, meaningful content every day.
While many of us can throw around the term Web 2.0 at an AFP event or two, the nonprofit sector is still, by and large, figuring out what these sites have to teach us, and not only how we can afford them, but also how we can take advantage of the opportunities they might provide for both fundraisers and program departments.
The Web site for the Anxiety Disorders Association of America is doing a solidly good job offering online interactivity without an enormous financial investment. It does this by using third-party plug-in applications essentially to support its static Web site. For instance, www.givedirect.org processes online donations securely, while different features are powered by other tools. Using these third parties is a cost-effective alternative to more robust back-end application service providers (ASPs) like Convio or Kintera. (More on those in a moment.)
First, let’s focus on some of the features of ADAA’s site that your organization might benefit from. The home page offers quick-link buttons to find a therapist or take a test online to determine if anxiety is a problem. It also has an easy-to-use e-card feature that allows visitors to send an image and message about anxiety via e-mail, with a link to “donate now” on the site.
This is terrifically engaging content for program-oriented visitors. You also can sign up for the organization’s e-newsletter, read articles on anxiety gleaned from top publications, register for its upcoming conference and check out a monthly feature article. Sponsors’ logos are showcased at the bottom of each page, along with a seal from Independent Charities of America and the National Counsel for Nonprofit Associations, which named it a “Best in America” charity.
A fundraising boost, too
There’s also a lot of strong content driven by ADAA’s fundraising department. I was most interested in its “advertising packet,” downloadable as a PDF, which outlines advertising rates for the Web site, e-newsletter and conference program, among other things. In addition to making a secure donation online, visitors can become individual or professional members of ADAA (but these pages aren’t processing secure donations, so be sure you don’t give them your credit card information).
ADAA should be commended on the professional look and feel of this site. It uses a simple but unique color palette and easy-to-use navigational standards, and it appears to be consistently branded. I’m always a big fan of taglines; they can clarify the organization’s name and communicate volumes about its vision and mission.
ADAA’s next step probably will be to plug in or build an ASP that allows for greater interactivity. For instance, the feature that allows you to register for its conference currently takes you to the hotel’s Web site. A back-end tool such as Convio would allow visitors to register and pay for events online, and would sync this data with other offline databases (such as Raiser’s Edge). It also could provide a layered solution that would allow ADAA to offer content uniquely tailored and accessible to target audiences (for example, special access to publications for members only). It also could be used to require someone who’s downloading that neat advertising packet to supply his or her name, title and e-mail address first, which would help ADAA keep track of its would-be sponsors.
Sarah Durham is founder and principal of Big Duck, a company specializing in smart communications for nonprofits. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.