American Lung Association Launches Re-tooled Web Site
The American Lung Association currently is in the throes of redesigning, revamping and relaunching its Web site, www.lungusa.com. While the current site provides rich content on a whopping 60,000 pages, the infrastructure is very “last generation,” says Rusty Burwell, assistant vice president of the development division at the ALA.
“The big issue for us this year is [to] increase our Web-based positioning,” Burwell says. “It’s an outreach to the public, really, to give them easier ways to reach the information they’re searching for.”
The ALA’s new Web project is indicative of a recent study by software provider Kintera that said 66 percent of nonprofit organizations are planning to increase IT spending in 2004. That figure represents a 23 percent jump from last year’s survey results, when only 43 percent of organizations expected to increase their tech spending.
“Our budgets are up, and we were spending more this [fiscal] year,” says Burwell, who adds that his organization is one of the aforementioned 66 percent. “A significant portion of that spending is really more Web-related than anything else.”
Over the past three to four years, Burwell says, the ALA has observed a continuing rise in what he calls “passive donations” on the Web.
“Somebody finds [our] Web site and makes a contribution without any outreach on our behalf,” he explains.
The organization also has received substantially larger average gifts online than with its sophisticated direct mail program, which dates back to the 1920s.
“In the mail, we average $10 - $11 gifts. On the Web, it’s more on the order of $65,” Burwell says, explaining that despite this significant trend, direct mail still pulls in roughly $40 million annually, whereas lungUSA.com fetches only $500,000.
“We look at that from a strategic standpoint and say, ‘Clearly the public is becoming much more comfortable with donating online,’” Burwell figures. “And if we are getting this much money passively, then we need to develop active, electronic fundraising campaigns.”
Among the many items on its agenda, the ALA has streamlined its online navigation system, making it more efficient for the public to search. Also, with more than 70 local lung associations to account for, the organization has expanded its Web capability in-house by designing universal page templates. The new system will allow all areas of ALA staff to more easily add and update content, without labor-intensive obstacles on the back-end.
“Years ago, in a direct mail discussion, we would have been saying, ‘Boy, we’d sure like to get higher gifts and bring in younger people,’” Burwell says. “But we would struggle to do that with direct mail. Now, that’s exactly what we’re getting on the Web.”
The fine-tuned, fresh face of lungUSA.com will launch sometime during the first quarter of 2004.