The Lure of the New
I was checking out the website of potential client (yes, it’s not just you who checks out the prospective consultant), and was well “horrified” is too strong a word, but I’m not sure what would be the right one, to notice that the most recent “news” item was from 2011; newsletter was a little older, and that was typical of much on the site. Information, yes, but not much of it current. It’s hard to keep up. I understand that. And there is no shame in being a little out of date on your website. But I’ve seen too many nonprofits who have ambitious and lofty goals for their online presence, only to be foiled by their lack of resources. This is truly a case where less is definitely more.
Check out what face you are showing to the world. If someone didn’t know better, would it look like you weren’t currently in business? Are all those newsletters, white papers, news releases and articles more than a year old? If so, consider getting rid of them.
I tell people in my One Person Development Program workshops, as well as my clients with small to nonexistent development departments, that the best thing they can do for themselves is to simplify. That’s important on your website as well.
We all have this tendency to think about all the things we could (and maybe should) do; I challenge you to then take that list and figure out what you CAN do.
Yes, you could have a very interactive website, with new information that will pull people back to see what is going on now, but can you actually keep the information up-to-date? If not, perhaps you’re better off with a more static site, that gives good, solid and timeless information about who you are and what you do.
New ideas are extremely enticing. But they can be death to a program or organization if you can’t maintain them once they are launched. I see more things languishing or worse—drying up completely—because every day a new “we could…” idea pops up, to be half worked on before a new “we could…” takes it place. This is especially insidious in fundraising, which is built upon relationships. And relationships take time, and consistency. If you are always starting something new, you might not be able to maintain that which came before. And in that failure, you can see the future.
It’s not all gloom and doom, of course. This is something over which you have control. Before you tackle something, consider carefully what you will have to do to maintain it. Then think about what you may have to stop doing in order to have the time to do this new thing. And then be very honest: Is the excitement of the new enough of an enticement to abandon what came before? And if it is, ask one further question: Is this new idea something you can manage, keeping it fresh and exciting—too exciting and successful to keep from abandoning it when the next new idea pops up?
Janet Levine works with nonprofits and educational organizations, helping them increase their fundraising capacity. Learn more at http://janetlevineconsulting.com. While there, sign up for her free newsletter.