How the Right Nonprofit Website Can Save Precious Time

Like many nonprofits, First Nonprofit Foundation (FNF) has a small staff. Since joining the grantmaking organization in 2013, FNF’s president and CEO, Joe Geiger, has had his hands full qualifying grant recipients and administering grants.

Until recently, his website’s main contribution to this process was providing his email address and phone number. And it wasn’t even doing that very well. FNF’s mission had evolved over the years from nonprofit education to grantmaking, but the site had not been updated to reflect the changes.

“The site no longer represented them properly,” says Jacki Robison, Synapse account manager. “The home page featured photos of children, which didn’t communicate their present focus at all. In fact, it was very hard to determine from the site what First Nonprofit Foundation actually did. They were doing all this great work, but none of it was on the site.”

Nonprofit leaders consistently rank their website as the number one tool for reaching clients, donors and the public. Yet like Joe, many nonprofit leaders are so focused on serving the needs of their clients and communities that administrative projects fall by the wayside. The results are:

  • Dated, dysfunctional websites.
  • Jumbled or nonexistent archives.
  • Contact information scattered through paper files, Word docs, inboxes and spreadsheets.

When Joe approached Synapse about a new website, we talked extensively about his needs. We dug through Excel sheets and read files. We talked to grantees and examined the application process. The website we built not only accurately represents the foundation, but has helped to free up Joe’s time and create opportunities for his clients.

The new website clearly identifies the foundation’s mission and history.

It also features a tab on every page directing the site’s primary audience, grant seekers, to a dedicated page.

The new grant seeker page presents FNF’s funding guidelines and provides a detailed contact form for candidates who believe they meet them, including space for a description of the proposed project and funding sought. “Joe is very busy, and he was basically doing all of that work by email or phone,” says Jacki. “The site eliminated a lot of time spent going back and forth with individual questions.”

We also built an application page for qualified candidates that links to MicroEdge, a secure third-party site that does a great job of handling grant applications. The result is a unified process from initial contact through funding with built-in documentation that significantly reduces FNF’s paperwork burden.

The new website also features individual project profiles, giving First Nonprofit Foundation’s grantees a place to showcase their accomplishments.

Grantees can forward photos of their projects to FNF for posting in live albums on the website. Because FNF funds a lot of smaller nonprofits, the site serves as a valuable platform. “A lot of their clients are excited about having a place to showcase their work,” Jacki says.

The new website also helps FNF communicate with board members. “We built a secure, password-protected page where Joe can archive confidential documents and share them with his board,” Jacki says. “That’s something a lot of nonprofits need.” The site also significantly increases the foundation’s transparency by illustrating its application process and funding decisions.

Finally, the new FNF website is built on a WordPress platform that the foundation can easily update. Synapse provided a user manual, training and ongoing support to ensure that they could add new projects and publish foundation news without investing a lot of precious time. The site also provides analytical tools to allow FNF to capture contacts and measure the return on their website investment, a crucial part of any website build.

“For nonprofits, I think it’s especially important to invest up-front in a quality site that gives them the capabilities they need, allows them to update it easily, and lets them measure the results,” Jacki says. “In the long run, it’s the best way to ensure they get a good return on their investment.”

FNF is on target to surpass $1 million in grants funded this year. Now they have a million-dollar website to match. (And it cost them a whole lot less than that!)

Need a quality website that will give you a better return on your investment? Get a quote from Synapse today.

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