Mar 21

How to avoid Spring Fever

At this time of year in many organizations someone on staff is busy putting together the spring newsletter to donors. Since the winter (or Christmas) edition they’ve gathered stories and photographs; commissioned a column from the chief executive; and begun the editing process. When everything is polished some will send everything to a designer to lay out the material, others will do it themselves. The quarterly (or more regular) newsletter is a time-honoured way to communicate.

However, it is also time and labour intensive.

The recipients of the newsletters are usually donors or friends of the organization. Statistics Canada notes that “older Canadians gave, on average, more than younger Canadians …  The average donation by those aged 65 years and older was $490, while those between 15 and 24 years old donated $111.”

It’s fair to say your newsletter will find itself largely in the hands of people aged 55-plus. After printing and folding, it probably costs you at least 61 cents to mail.

What if you could make your newsletter creation easier and reach more people with your messages? It’s not as hard as you think.

Recent statistics show Canadians spend more time online than any other nationality – 43.5 hours per month. And the fastest growing demographic is those aged 55 years and older. The younger crowd is already there. The younger they are, the more time they “live” online.

Rather than pulling together all your stories for a one-shot flurry of information, release stories and photos using your website or through email messages as they happen. This places your organization and its stories (and needs) before people regularly rather than once per quarter (or even less) and provides more opportunities to donate! And when news and stories are posted to your website, it’s a simple process to send a headline teaser out on Twitter and post a link to your Facebook page.

Don’t do away with your newsletter. It’s a valuable communication vehicle with particular age groups. But it won’t usually find its way into the hands of others. Newsletter sharing isn’t common. However, think how easy it is to share a link or forward an email. If grandma receives your printed newsletter, she can’t pass along an interesting story to her grandchild who may live a few thousand kilometers away.

When it comes to editing your publication, since you have already published stories online, they are ready to go. Simply compile them into a newsletter. Repeating information is never wasted time. People receive so much information your newsletter can act as a reminder.

Meanwhile, your online stories join the massive library of worldwide information subject to discovery by Google and other search engines. If you also e-mail them regularly to other news outlets with which your organization is affiliated, your potential audience grows.

With a link to your website at the end of the story, readers can click to find out more and use your site’s online donation function to show their support. When they use that function, you can ask if they would like to receive information regularly by e-mail and eventually you find yourself with an e-mail mailing list!

While it’s common practice to put a PDF copy of newsletters on websites, that still involves creating the newsletter from scratch. (Plus, search engines find words in posted stories easier than PDFs.)

Taking a few minutes to write, polish and post a story while it is current demonstrates your organization understands online communication and is anxious to share its news with the world.

Enjoy spring and keep communicating!

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Mar 13

Do you see what I see? Is your website mobile compatible?

When the worldwide web came on stream in the mid-1990s, web designers dealt with two browsers: the then-popular Netscape and the up-and-coming Internet Explorer. The two had compatibility issues, but some deft coding could make websites viewable using either browser.

Then along came more browsers with names like Opera, Firefox, Safari and Chrome. Netscape almost disappeared and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dominated. The new browsers posed few compatibility issues. They read the code basically the same ways

And then Apple introduced its iPhone in 2007 with its touch screen and internet connectivity. It changed everything. Competitors soon released rival products with their own operating system and browsers. Then in 2010 the iPad entered the market sparking the current rage for portable tablet devices.

The difference mobile devices introduced was the possibility of viewing web pages on-the-go in either a vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape) configuration. Before the iPhone, websites were viewed on a horizontal screen.

Not only did the way of viewing change, but the size of the viewing area shrank. The fine details of a standard website could easily become unreadable.

Where you used to click a link using a mouse, it became the tap of a fingertip – a less accurate pointing device (unless used giving directions to a lost tourist.) To complicate things further, none of the Apple mobile devices play Adobe Flash files.

The most popular browser in the world is now Android’s browser found on most smartphones. More than 100 million iPads using Safari are in the hands of users around the world. Mobile/Smartphone use in Canada is nearing 80% penetration—some 22.5 million people.

Here’s the key question: Is your website compatible with the new generation of browsers and viewers?

If you wonder how your website looks on major mobile browsers, here’s a website that can help you. It’s as simple as entering your website address and viewing the results. Should your site not load correctly on the mobile browsers, Adnams Group can help you.

Some companies and organizations have two websites, one for standard monitors and another for mobile devices. The website automatically senses the device you are viewing on and either sends you directly to, or gives you the option of viewing a site designed specifically for mobile devices.

You may think this isn’t really important because people using your website, usually supporters, don’t use mobile phones and tablets. And that may be true – today. But your future supporters and donors “live” on their mobile devices and the sooner they have access to your stories, the sooner they could become active supporters.

In the years I’ve been writing and presenting about being on line I’ve maintained that it’s easy to launch a website, but the work is keeping it current. That applies to both content and the invisible code that makes your website visible and easy to navigate.

Here are some examples and some interesting discussion:

11 Nonprofit Websites That Look Great on iPads « Nonprofit Tech 2.0 Blog :: A Social Media Guide for Nonprofits

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