develop a consortium Web site?
A Web site is an effective method of communicating the mission and
vision of your Neighborhood Networks Consortium to a broad audience.
Web sites can serve a variety of purposes for consortia, including
membership development, fundraising, publicizing events and activities,
and sharing success stories and best practices. As your Neighborhood
Networks Consortium strives to grow through partnership development,
fundraising, and increased membership, a Web site can be an essential
tool for communicating with stakeholders and gaining support from
the greater community.
Web Development Process
following are steps to develop a Web site for your Neighborhood
||Create a development plan and set a schedule.
||Develop, organize, and edit content. |
||Enlist design services from the community (local
colleges, universities, technical schools, large community technology
centers, design firms, etc.).|
||Develop a plan for marketing the site (remember
to involve all stakeholders in the plan). |
might want to form a Web-development committee and assign tasks
to individual members to ensure that each step of the process is
carried out thoroughly and in a timely manner.
content consists of the text and pictures to be included on a Web
site. For Neighborhood Networks Consortia, general content includes:
||Mission, vision, and values. |
||Major goals and objectives.|
||History of the consortium. |
||Contact information. |
||News and events. |
Web site may be the first introduction others have to your consortium.
Therefore, it is important to provide this basic information to
allow visitors to clearly understand the role your consortium plays
in the community.
content should be written in a clear and concise manner. Visitors
will not necessarily read all the content on any given Web page,
so content should be written in a style similar to newspaper articles:
the main ideas or basic facts should come first, while supporting
details should appear later in the text. You can use techniques
like subheads, bulleted lists, short phrases, and direct conclusions
to keep content organized and succinct. You should still provide
the full amount of information, but the basic facts should link
to more detailed information, so that people who do not want all
the details do not have to read them in order to get to the main
Networks Consortia can utilize Web sites to disseminate information
to a variety of audiences--including prospective members, volunteers,
partners, and funders. When developing content, be mindful of the
audiences you want to reach with your Web site. Each audience will
want different information for different reasons, so organize content
in a way that will be accessible for each type of visitor.
can utilize their Web sites to market the benefits of consortium
participation to prospective members. In addition to basic information
about the consortium, your Web site should demonstrate how the consortium
has helped individual centers serve their clients more effectively.
Consortia might also want to indicate the types of organizations
that are eligible to join as well as what is required of members
to maintain good standing. The membership section of your Web site
||Center descriptions (including locations, descriptions
of programs and services offered, and clients served). |
||Center success stories. |
||Description of membership benefits (including
current partnerships and grants awarded). |
||Membership eligibility requirements. |
||Member roles and responsibilities. |
||Membership application instructions. |
||Downloadable membership application form. |
is particularly important to give Web site visitors the option of
applying for membership online, once they become interested in joining
your consortium. If you are not able to include a downloadable membership
application form, then provide accurate and reliable contact information
potential members can use to contact a consortium leader about joining
A Web site can build a sense of community among members, especially
in cases where they are spread across a large geographic area. Your
Web site should include a communication tool to facilitate the process
of members getting to know one another. One of the greatest benefits
of consortium participation is resource sharing, and your Web site
can make it easy and convenient for members to share ideas and information
with one another. You might also want to include links to resources
and related Web sites, like those of other Neighborhood Networks
consortia, funders, and similar nonprofit organizations.
Networks Consortia can also use Web sites to help funders learn
more about what they do. When you reach out to funders about funding
opportunities, they will want to determine whether your organization's
mission and goals match their funding priorities. They will also
want to become familiar with your membership, since member centers
ultimately benefit from any grants awarded to the consortium. Your
Web site should include the following information for potential
||Types of programs/activities to be funded. |
||Current and past funding sources. |
||How past grants were distributed and utilized.
||Center success stories. |
want their grantees to show not only a need for additional funds,
but also the capacity to administer those funds effectively. Including
success stories and other information about consortium activities
will help potential funders understand how funds are utilized to
support member centers. Also, information about other funding sources
will suggest to potential funders that your organization has the
capacity and sustainability to efficiently administer grants.
should not exaggerate your consortium's accomplishments when developing
Web site content for potential funders. Rather, your Web site should
present a clear and accurate picture of your consortium, one that
supports the direct contact you have with funders. This allows them
to make an informed decision about further engaging with the consortium.
individuals and organizations may have interest in becoming involved
in your consortium in ways other than joining or providing funding.
Like other audiences, these partners and volunteers will want a
general overview of your consortium's mission and goals. They will
also visit your Web site to get ideas about how they can get involved.
providing information about the programming and services offered
by your member centers (as well as any current partnerships you
have), your Web site should get potential partners and volunteers
to think creatively about ways of contributing their time and resources.
Remember, partners and volunteers ultimately want to feel that they
are making a positive impact on the community. So, your Web site
should demonstrate how integral your member centers are to the communities
should always come away from your Web site with a strong sense of
your consortium's purpose and goals. The more effectively the content
on your Web site conveys the mission and goals of your consortium,
the more likely visitors will be to recommend the site to others.
To make your Web site most effective, include ways for visitors
to contact a consortium leader about funding and partnership opportunities,
to sign up as a volunteer, or to simply get more information about
Your Web Site
writing, compiling, and editing content, the next step is to design
your Web site. When you begin the design phase, it is often best
to start by developing a very basic Web site. Once it is up and
running, you can add content and more advanced features as you deem
necessary and appropriate.
sites should be designed in a way that allows users to navigate
easily and quickly
access the information they are seeking. They should also be inviting
and visually appealing. When creating the design, consider the impression
or experience you want visitors to have. Develop a wish list of
Web features you would like to incorporate, and then decide later
which are actually feasible. You can visit the Web sites of organizations
that are similar to yours to get an idea of which design features
will work best for your Web site.
Neighborhood Networks Consortia do not have all the resources they
need to develop Web sites internally. If this is the case for your
consortium, reach out to other community members for assistance
with Web design. Local community colleges, universities, technical
schools, and design firms are likely to have the skills and other
resources your consortium needs. Contact these institutions about
the possibility of donating their Web design services or establishing
a partnership that involves an exchange of resources.
the Web Site
your Web site is just as important as building it, since a Web site
will not serve its purpose unless people actually access the information.
Web site marketing is an ongoing process that should be incorporated
into all consortium activities. The following are offline and online
marketing strategies your consortium can use to get the word out
about your new Web site:
||Include your Web address in all informational
and marketing materials, including consortium letterhead, newsletters,
||Announce the launch of your Web site in your
newsletter and any other correspondence with current and potential
stakeholders (members, funders, partners, volunteers, etc.)
||In each edition of your newsletter, reference
a resource that is available exclusively on your Web site. |
||Familiarize all stakeholders with the Web address
and the information that is available on the Web site. Encourage
them to tell other community members about the site.|
||Reference your Web site in all communication
with the media (including press releases, media advisories,
telephone conversations, etc.) so it will be mentioned in newspaper
articles and other media coverage of your consortium. |
||I Include your consortium's Web address in your
signature when sending e-mails on behalf of the consortium.
||E-mail your current stakeholders to announce
the launch of the Web site, and to inform them of any major
updates you make to the Web site in the future. |
||Develop a list of organizations that provide
related services and programs and contact them about providing
links to your Web site on their Web sites. |
site maintenance is a continual process that involves ensuring the
site operates properly and is updated with current information.
This is particularly important because people are not likely to
visit a site more than a few times if it is not updated regularly.
The more complicated the design of the Web site, the more complicated
maintenance will be. So, try to anticipate your site's maintenance
needs during the design phase of development. If you work with an
outside developer, assign at least one consortium member to learn
how to update and maintain the site as it is being built. Whenever
possible, avoid taking your site down while it is being updated
Site Development Links
following Web sites offer information about Web development for
nonprofit organizations: Web Development Resources for Nonprofit
A 2005 Neighborhood Networks National Partner. Provides free Web
hosting for nonprofit organizations.
Links nonprofit organizations with community volunteers who provide
free Web-building services.
Provides affordable Web hosting and custom Web sites for nonprofit
Developer's Toolkit: Links to Web authoring, design, and graphics
resources for Web development beginners.
for Online Fundraising:
For Good: A 2005 Neighborhood Networks National Partner. Provides
free online fundraising tools and volunteer recruitment resources.
Consortia Web Sites:
Promise: This Neighborhood Networks Consortium is based in Seattle,
Washington, and was founded in 1996.
This Neighborhood Networks Consortium is based in Massachusetts,
and was founded in 2004.