The following is a heartwarming guest post from the super team of Slalom Boston (and friends)!
How Was Your Weekend?
Ours was great! Over the weekend of April 27 – 29th, 28 consultants (and three friends!) from Slalom Boston got together to build websites for 15 nonprofits. Some had a site that was in desperate need of redesign. Some didn’t have one at all. Our team got to have this fun, impactful weekend because we chose to volunteer for 48in48.
This was the second annual 48in48 Boston event. In all, the 2018 event brought together 100+ volunteers from the technology community to deliver 48 websites for local nonprofits. Using WordPress, the volunteers split into teams to tackle website development. Leading up to the event, the nonprofits completed coursework to help them understand what information is important to include on their websites, how to migrate existing content, and how to host their new site.
How Slalom Boston Participated at 48in48
Slalom Boston’s involvement in the 2018 event evolved from two site development teams in 2017, which created nine sites to an impressive five teams building 15 total sites for incredible nonprofits including !the Boston Cyclists Union, Boston CASA, and Blueprint Schools Network. (Click the link to see their awesome new sites!)
Slalom Boston also led two capacity building workshops for the participating nonprofits:
- Hiking the Salesforce Trails, an overview of the solution for non-profits
- Refining Your Pitch, a storytelling workshop
Prior to and over the weekend, we learned that many of our nonprofit partners struggle with vital marketing and communication either due to limited resources, time, and/or expertise. Here are a few of the things we observed. We’re sharing in hopes of helping other nonprofits or volunteers!
- Project management/operations.
It’s no secret that small nonprofits often operate on limited resources and in a highly reactive way. In that environment, project management can have a major impact on the outcomes of key initiatives and programs a nonprofit is trying to launch, while also juggling the reactive work. Having one dedicated person responsible for creating a project plan, tracking it, logging risks and issues, and managing the budget are all game-changers for nonprofits. A project like re-building a website requires a dedicated resource and team to make sure it gets done. Having 48in48 and a dedicated project manager is transformative for under-resourced organizations.
- Access to free technology (like Salesforce!)
There are countless resources available for free online. Over the weekend event, we spent time telling nonprofits about about Salesforce technology that they can use for free based on their 501(c)3 status. Salesforce for Nonprofits provides a 360-degree view of the non-profit organization — from fundraising and programs to marketing and engagement. There is also substantial free training in Trailhead.
- Audiences are important.
While many businesses struggle to understand their customers, nonprofits excel at knowing who their “customers” are and how to support them. But when it comes to other audiences, such as potential donors and volunteers, nonprofits don’t always have the data (which could be captured by website visitors) or perspectives they need to expand their audience of supporters. All organizations, nonprofits included, should define their target audiences thoughtfully and think about them when defining their online presence, so new volunteers are captured.
- Start with brand and messaging.
For many nonprofits, brand and messaging aren’t top-of-mind or they struggle to articulate it crisply. While they often invest in communications with the goal of spreading awareness and raising funds, it isn’t always easy taking the next step towards a more thoughtful brand and messaging platform. But a little extra effort can go a long way, especially for nonprofits thinking about their digital presence. We think investment in the resources required to create a memorable brand, with a well-articulated story that resonates with all target audiences, is an important way that nonprofits can provide a compelling online experience that reaches the right people with the right message.
Most nonprofits need to balance a diverse group of audiences and a long list of goals. Managing each of these goals often becomes more difficult given the limited resources nonprofits have available to them. We see great value in tying priorities to desired outcomes, including when considering digital presence, so that the work conducted is not only the most pressing, but most valuable too.
Helping 15+ nonprofits dramatically improve their web presence — leading to greater awareness of each nonprofit’s mission, more donor potential, and an increase in volunteer numbers — is why #imwithslalom. We are so excited about our continued relationships with our new friends and partners as we help them to address challenges and opportunities in the future.
48in48 is grateful to the Slalom consultants and friends who made 48in48 so impactful, including:
Steven Rutherford, Rajeev Ramesh, Andrew Roberts, Santosh Iyer, Erik Swenson, Issam Ouchen, David Lozzi, Dustin Schmieding, Vivek Varadarajan, Julien Ouellett, David Wang, Kristen Erickson, Jim Covino. L to R Bottom: Shannon Montanez, Daniela Cardenas, Monica Natesh, Terri Chai, Meaghan Young, YiLing Zhang.
This post was written with input from Jim Covino, Elizabeth Lisowski and Daniela Cardenas.