Forget about technology for a moment. One of the most common nonprofit website issues I see as I surf the web is outdated information.
Out Of Date Content Is Everywhere
I’m not talking about having pictures from last year’s Fun Run on a page in the site archive. Having a site archive page is fine. I’m talking about having last year’s Fun Run announcement as the lead article on your homepage.
Of course, that’s the most obvious kind of out-of-date content. But there are other places out of date information can lurk. For example:
- You have an “Upcoming Events” page, but the most recent event is several months ago.
- You have a calendar page with a beautiful calendar on it. But the calendar is empty.
- You have a “Welcome from the Executive Director” article that mentions your 2009 fundraising campaign.
- Your “Download Our Newsletter” link downloads a newsletter from last year.
- Your Staff page lists employees that have left the organization and doesn’t list new staff members.
- Your offices have moved and your phone number has changed, but your contact page still lists the old location.
You get the idea.
Rule of thumb: News should hit your website before it goes to print in your monthly newsletter.
A Matter of Priorities
Failure to keep a nonprofit website up to date can happen for plenty of reasons. Busy staff may feel they don’t have time to do it when there are so many other pressing things on their plates, or it may be that nobody has been assigned the task of uploading fresh content.
Sometimes nonprofit staff put off updating their websites because of an underlying misunderstanding: that a website is kind of like a brochure, only online. I’ll have more to say about why your website is not an online brochure in a future post. For now it’s enough to point out that if you only update your brochure every couple years, and you think of your website as an online brochure, you’re not going to spend much time with it very often.
Why Your Out of Date Website Is Hurting You
And yet, nothing sends people clicking away from a website quite as fast as out of date information.
People are used to going online to get the most up-to-the-minute information available. Think about it. Why would they visit your website if they weren’t curious about you right now? Trust me, if they’ve come to your website, they don’t want to wait for your newsletter. They don’t want to call you and wait for your brochure to arrive in the mail. And if your information is out of date, they won’t have any reason to call you at all.
If you’re not keeping your website up to date you are, in effect, turning people away at your front door.
No amount of technological wizardry can make up for out of date content. Please, please please! I’m begging you! Don’t spend all that precious staff time and all those hard won donations on your nonprofit website only to let it gather cyber-cobwebs.
The Benefits of Keeping Current
Updating your website frequently is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve your website’s performance. An up-to-date website:
- Communicates that you’re actively engaged in your mission,
- Gives participants information they need about upcoming programs,
- Inspires confidence in potential donors, and
- Engages your community, even when your physical office doors are closed.
Make website content updates a priority. Don’t put it off. I guarantee you, if you will keep your website up to date, that little bit of extra effort will be rewarded in spades.
Photo credit: Peter Løvstrøm