Our Website as Our Home Base

At NTEN, we’re all over the Internet: we’ve got a community platform supporting online discussions and local events; microsites for both the Nonprofit Technology Conference and the Leading Change Summit; monthly email newsletters highlighting guest articles and new research on the blog; and social media profiles where we engage with the community regularly, including on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. For all this effort to create content and spark conversations, we won’t be successful if our online presence didn’t have a home. Our website is that home, and being a home is a difficult but important role.

It’s not an easy job being the home for everything you do online. Here’s what it means for NTEN.org:

Create the content we want.

When you treat your website as the starting place and the central aggregator of all that you do online, you have a go-to publishing platform. Length, style, graphics—you don’t have any limitations on your website. You can create the content you want and then share or repurpose on other channels when it makes sense. While it’s true that you’ll only be able to share a single sentence on Twitter, you can always link to the full story on your site. You may push compelling pictures or infographics to Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, or Tumblr, but you can still link to the story behind those images on your website.

Connect content and community.

Think about how you use the Web each day. In one moment, you may have a number of windows or tabs going at once, clicking on a link in a news story and then sharing it on a social network. You might then visit a friend’s blog where she shares a list of articles she’s come across lately. A moment later, you could be checking your email where you’re pointed to various websites and social platforms. It can feel scattered. So don’t think that your supporters know all the best places to find you and your content. NTEN’s website helps us connect content with community so that wherever you found us, you can easily link back to the website and then click back out to the channel of your preference.

Support diversity and longevity.

You’ve probably seen many different blog posts, infographics, and reports that show the various demographic make-ups of specific communities within the vast expanse of the internet. At NTEN, our online content is primarily created by and for our community: guest articles each month, features and case studies in the quarterly journal, and webinars and conference sessions designed and led by members. It doesn’t make sense to think we’d be reaching the entire community if we only shared content or engaged with people on Twitter. Or LinkedIn. Or only on our blog. By using the website as the home base for all content—publishing in full there first—we are able to support and highlight the most diverse voices and ensure their content is searchable and findable much longer than a tweet.

Content overdose.

Of course, there’s always going to be thorns with the roses. In this case, creating and posting so much content means your home can get a bit messy. Or, hoarder-like, actually. You may have seen some of our recent posts talking about our website redesign and overhaul. A huge contributing factor and influence to our process is our website’s role as our home base. We know we are a content-heavy organization, and the website has suffered because of our lack of features to ensure we are updating the content that should be updated while getting rid of or archiving content so it stops confusing visitors looking for the best resources they can find. We need to ensure that, while the website is the home base, we enforce some rules to keep it clean and welcoming for friends and new visitors.

What role does your website serve for your organization? What other tips would you add to the list?

Amy Sample Ward
Driven by a belief that the nonprofit technology community can be a movement-based force for positive change, Amy is NTEN’s CEO and former membership director. Her prior experience in direct service, policy, philanthropy, and capacity-building organizations has also fueled her aspirations to create meaningful, inclusive, and compassionate community engagement and educational opportunities for all organizations. Amy inspires the NTEN team and partners around the world to believe in community-generated change. She believes technology can help nonprofits reach their missions more effectively, efficiently, and inclusively, and she’s interested in everything from digital equity to social innovation.