Revised with new information as of
January 6, 2014
Maintaining Your Nonprofit, NGO or
Small Government Office Web Site:
You've launched your organization's
site -- now what?
Maintaining a Web site is just as important as building it in the first
I'm going to say that again:
Maintaining a Web site is just as important as building it in the
Unfortunately, most organizations put much more effort into the initial
design and launch of a site than they do in keeping the content fresh and
keeping the site growing to best serve all staff and clients. It is
imperative that your organization maintains a commitment to posting
accurate, timely information online. If people who visit your site find
that the information never changes, they will stop accessing it.
Maintaining a web site is never done: new information will always be
waiting to be uploaded, old information will need to be updated, staff and
users will provide suggestions that need to be incorporated, etc.
Even so, maintaining a Web site will be easy if you incorporate any text
you already are preparing for paper newsletters, annual reports, progress
reports to funders, speeches to conferences or civi groups, etc. Build the
maintaining of your web site into your regular communications processes:
when final text is sent to a printer for a brochure, it also gets sent to
whomever maintains your web site; the day a brochure is sent via postal
mail is the day the text is also uploaded on to your web site; the day
after your executive director presents at a conference, upload the speech
to your web site, etc. Maintaining a web site does NOT have to be
extra work over what you are already doing, if you build the
maintenance into your communications "system."
Also, NEVER TAKE YOUR SITE DOWN when launching a site redesign.
Let me say that again: NEVER TAKE YOUR SITE DOWN when launching
a site redesign.
There are even for-profit organizations that will do this -- take their
web site down and put a "hold" page that says something ridiculous like,
"Pardon our dust! Our new site will go up in a few days, so be sure to
check back!" NEVER NEVER do this. Just as newspapers are committed to
making sure they publish on time no matter what, just as theater companies
are committed to the philosophy of the "show must go on" no matter what,
you should be committed to always keeping your web site operational.
Taking your web site down for several days during a transition, or
ceasing to keep a web site updated while you wait for a new site to be
redesigned or launched, is unprofessional and will make your organization
look very bad to many potential customers and supporters. It will also
deny information to supporters and potential supporters -- and they will
go elsewhere, with a very bad impression of your organization.
- Keep in mind what your audiences want out of the site and
that every web site has more than one audience.
- Give all staff, board members, volunteers and Web users ongoing
opportunities to provide feedback and suggestions for the site, both
online and off. This can range from putting a feedback form on your
site, to standing up a staff meeting and asking, "What does everyone
think of the Web site?"
- Via Web search engines and referrals, check out sites for
organizations similar to your own for content and design ideas.
- Enforce quality-control measures: Who reviews pages before they
become public? Who has access to the server to upload new information or
- Track the responses that result from your Web site. It will help you
plan more strategically for future posts and online activities. And
remember that responding to e-mail from the
Web site is a vital part of maintaining a successful Web site (see
- market your Web site!
- It's relatively easy to create a way for things you post to your
Twitter account to automatically appear on your web site; that means you
are updating your web site every time you post to Twitter. You can do
the same thing for your Facebook account as well. Just type Facebook
status updates appearing on my web site, or something similar, into Google
or Bing, for advice on how to do
Responding to e-mail from
the Web site
Your Web site should not be a passive thing; Web sites should generate
activity, and usually do in the form of e-mail. People see something on
the Web site they want to know more about, they have a question, they want
to sign up for something, and they want to let you know immediately! The
reply they get, or don't get, will reflect on your organization as much as
the Web site itself!
Responding to e-mail from the Web site is a vital part of
maintaining a successful Web site. It's a good idea to set up
standards for communicating via e-mail. Here are some suggestions:
Also: old versions of your web site will be available at The
Internet Wayback Machine / archive.org. You will be able to
achieve at least one iteration of your web site from each year that it's
been available on this resource. This is very helpful in retrieving
information someone deletes off of the web site and didn't back up. It
also helps you create a record of your organization's history. Do NOT
let any web designer put coding into your pages so that they will NOT be
archived by this resource!
Other related resources that can help you:
- Don't Just Ask for Money!
The "Support Us" button on your organization's web site needs to link to
more information than only how to give money to your organization.
- Use Tech to Show Your
Accountability and To Teach Others About the Nonprofit Sector!
Mission-Based groups are under growing scrutiny. What you put on your
web site can help counter the onslaught of "news" stories regarding
mission-based organizations and how they spent charitable contributions.
- Mission-Based Groups Need Use
the Web to Show Accountability
There has never been a better time for mission-based organizations to
use technology to show their transparency and credibility, and to teach
the media and general public about the resources needed to address
critical human and environmental needs.
- Handling Online Criticism
Online criticism of a nonprofit organization, even by its own
supporters, is inevitable. How a nonprofit organization handles online
criticism speaks volumes about that organization, for weeks, months, and
maybe even years to come. There's no way to avoid it, but there are ways
to address criticism that can help an organization to be perceived as
even more trustworthy and worth supporting.
- Is Your Staff "Walking the Talk"
Re: Your Organization's Online Activities?
Mission-based organizations use the Internet in all sorts of ways to
interact with the public, or with staff and volunteers abroad: for
instance, online discussion groups, an intranet where staff and
volunteers can share profiles about themselves and updates about their
work with each other, or an online service that is promoted as central
to the organization's mission and identity. But is your staff showing
leadership in using these online tools? If your organization is to use
technology successfully, all staff must embrace it. Here are tips on how
to encourage that.
- Online culture and online community
This section of my site provides many ideas and resources on how to work
with others online, in language that's easy to understand for those
considering or just getting started in using online technologies with
volunteers, donors and other supporters.
- What are good blog topics for
The word "blog" is short for "web log", and means keeping a journal or
diary online. Blogging is NOT a new concept -- people have been doing it
long before it had a snazzy media label. The appeal of blogging for an
online audience is that it's more personal and less formal than other
information on a web site. Readers who want to connect with an
organization on a more personal level, or who are more intensely
interested in an organization than the perhaps general public as a
whole, love blogs. Blogs can come from your Executive Director, other
staff members, volunteers, and even those you serve. Content options are
many, and this list reviews some of
- For Nonprofits Considering Their
Why It's Worth Exploring, and Content Considerations
I present my first podcast about... podcasts (transcript included).
Specifically, I talk about how podcasts can be used by nonprofits, and
just how easy it is to do.
Coyote Communications' Web Site Resources
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