Westchester Land Trust
Nonprofit staff and board members share a common passion for their organizations’ work and often speak to each other as “insiders,” using jargon or shorthand for the programs and issues they work on. For instance, social service organizations might talk internally about “at-risk” audiences or “partner organizations.”
But how inspiring — or even comprehensible — are these terms to people who are less connected to the organization?
This month, we’re looking at the Web site for the Westchester Land Trust, a site struggling with this “insider” versus “outsider” approach to communicating.
WLT’s work focuses on protecting land in partnership with private property owners, helping communities create new parks and preserves, and fostering sound land-use planning rules. Westchester County, which is just north of New York City, struggles to balance the needs of its suburban, commuter-lifestyle residents with its desirably rural nature.
Some great points
WLT’s tagline is “Preserving Westchester’s Land and Communities.” The organization does a terrific job demonstrating the “land” part of its work online through gorgeous images of bucolic Westchester landscapes.
WLT’s homepage also makes a good first impression with clear navigation, a search box, two easy ways to donate online and a simple “What We Do” box that boils down its work into three short points. Owls hoot, water trickles and wind blows audibly as images move in and out of the top of the page. A prominent display of the Better Business Bureau and the Contribute 200 logos demonstrates up front that WLT is a trustworthy nonprofit deserving of support.
The “Latest News” section on the site provides a reason to return, assuming it’s updated with some regularity. At the time of writing, the news items all were a bit organization-centric, using that insider point of view rather than featuring news items that might be of interest to those less connected to WLT. For example, a more casual visitor to the site might want to hear about recent legislation affecting the preservation of land or zoning rather than a successful fundraising event. It’s fine to incorporate some insider news items, but the trick here is balance.
Sarah Durham is president of Big Duck, a New York City-based branding, marketing and fundraising firm for nonprofits. She serves on the boards of the National Brain Tumor Society and the New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).