Nonprofits, How Do you Rank on These Three Influential Websites?

Association Rating GraphicWith annual reports coming out soon, many nonprofits are spending a great deal of time, energy and money developing and strengthening their brand messaging and image for this year. They will be taking care that their reports convey their desired theme and checking that their social media and other marketing materials are aligned. But have they considered that social media is more than what they publish online about themselves? It’s also what others say about them

Have you updated your organization’s profile on these up-and-coming information hubs for nonprofits?

1.    GreatNonprofits (www.greatnonprofits.org)
This website is like Yelp for nonprofits. Founded in 2007, this nonprofit is dedicated to helping potential volunteers or donors connect with nonprofits that are making an impact. Users can rate their experiences of over 1.8 million nonprofits. Since its founding, GreatNonprofits has collected over 170k reviews from users and that number keeps on growing. If you haven’t already, we recommend you check your organization’s reviews to see if they are in-line with your perception and your organization’s mission.

2.    GuideStar (www.guidestar.org)
GuideStar is another nonprofit dedicated to informing people about other nonprofits efficacy, financial information, and objectives. GuideStar is unique in that it collects 990 Forms (Mandatory IRS Form) and publishes that information to their website. Users can then look up financial information for any nonprofit that completed these forms and evaluate how well they are serving their mission. GuideStar’s website also includes information on each organization’s missions and specific campaigns they are running. Nonprofits can then update their profiles with new campaign information and financial data. Unfortunately, a quick search will reveal that many nonprofits have not taken the opportunity to do so and are likely missing out on some savvy donors.

3.    Philanthropedia (www.myphilanthropedia.org)
While GuideStar is concerned with relaying financial and operational information to users, Philanthropedia (a division of GuideStar) takes this one step further by giving its users recommendations, helping them decide which nonprofits to support. It is a win-win for both sides. The upside for users is that they get easy-to-understand recommendations regarding which nonprofits to support and nonprofits benefit in that they get free evaluations and recommendations regarding how to increase their effectiveness in the future.

Transparency and efficacy are becoming the determining factors that potential donors and volunteers are looking at when it comes to deciding which nonprofits to support. Like Yelp and LinkedIn, these websites are likely to become go-to stops when evaluating which nonprofits to support—so best get ahead of the curve and start building your organization’s online reputation now!

For more marketing tips and trends for associations and nonprofits, check back next week for “3 Short, Simple, and Sweet Rules for Effective Annual Reports.”

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Public Service Announcement: Heartbleed Bug

heartbleed graphic

Last week a major bug was discovered in the widely used SSL source code.

SSL code is used in many different security products and secure web browsing—think websites that start with https:/. Dubbed “Heartbleed,” this bug allows malicious users to steal small bits (64kb) of data from users and website hosts without being detected. In fact many popular websites like, Facebook, Google and Youtube, were compromised. By continually mining this exploit, malicious users could possibly extract information like usernames, passwords, security keys and tokens. When done strategically, this leaked information would setup hackers with the means to carry far more destructive attacks like identity theft or transferring funds from you bank…scary, right?

Now, before you panic, this doesn’t mean all of your information has been snatched up by diabolical masterminds like Dr. Evil. While it is possible for malicious users to get your information, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have. The mechanics of Heartbleed attacks work in a way that they can only steal a small piece of information from the local memory on your computer for a short duration of time. This means that if there was no personal information on that memory during their attack they won’t have any of your personal information. You should still be wary however, because a dedicated hacker can repeat these attacks over and over again until they have that information they are looking for. So don’t panic…but tread carefully.

For the technically inclined here is an explanation on how it works.

What should you do about it?

Thankfully, many sites have already started patching their software so that Heartbleed is no longer an issue. As a precaution you should check to see if the websites you commonly visit utilize SSL source code and if they do, make sure that they have updated their SSL code to version 1.0.1g.  Here is a list of popular sites that were vulnerable before but have now patched.  If you have visited a website that was vulnerable you should take the following steps:

  1. Reset your username and password (Make sure that the website has been patched before you do this, otherwise you will increase the possibility of exposing this information).
  2. Check to see if a site you are visiting uses SSL before inputting critical information. (CNET has a tool you can use to determine whether or not a site is safe to use).
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Is Your Website Losing You Business? Responsive Web Design — The Latest Advantage for Your Business

Mobile devices for responsive web design

One of the biggest challenges in designing and developing for the web is the amazing and ever-changing technology. When it all started to gain popularity, having a website was just “cool” and meant you were “on the cutting edge”. Now, if you don’t have a website, your company may as well not exist at all if a potential client goes to look for your website and you aren’t there. It is no longer a status symbol, it is proof that you are a real company.

In the beginning it was a fancy splash page leading into basically an on-line brochure — now we want as few clicks as possible. Then Flash became the trick of the day — now avoided due to the challenges a flash site poses for search engine rankings and SEO (not to mention usability) plus restrictions from government agencies and mobile devices. Then we needed to use cascading style sheets and web 2.0…

The list goes on. And now, it’s all changing again.

In the recent past, most websites have been designed with what is called “adaptive design”. This means the sites are designed at a certain width, height and pixel number (with those standards continually changing as well). According to the Economist — an online authoritative source offering insight on international news, politics, business, finance, science and technology — by the year 2014, more people will connect to the Internet via mobile device than a laptop or desktop computer. Taking this into account for business success, our focus should be on whether or not the mobile and tablet user is getting the best viewing experience as well as the desktop or laptop user. One of the questions to ask ourselves is “how much of my target market makes their buying decisions on a mobile device”? The easier it is for your potential customers and clients to gain immediate pertinent information with easy-to-navigate information, the higher your chances of converting visitors to customers. If viewers have to pinch and squeeze and push and pull and squint and cuss (and they will!) just to get to the pertinent information they consider your service or product, I guarantee, they will quickly move on.

Responsive Web Design (RWD) is a website format that is optimized for a beautiful and friendly user experience across all devices. No more small print, pixilated images or the need to zoom in and read one word at a time. Unlike having to build an additional separate mobile site or app, a site built upon RWD changes its dimensions and content based on the browser window of the device. In RWD, the device speaks with the “media queries” and then optimizes the web page for that specific device. A site that’s not built on RWD will either give you a mobile version, a mobile app or the same website for desktop that is a royal pain to navigate.

The problems with additional mobile sites and apps are,
• We are creatures of habit who like to stick with what we know. When our customers open a mobile site or app, there is a learning curve or download time before they can get the information they need. You have just added a barrier and a negative experience for your “I want it now” viewer.
• Addition of considerable cost to your website development as basically two sites, or an additional app need to be developed, not just one site that reformats itself intuitively.

If you want to make sure that you are converting visitors to your website into clients and customers, you must be responsible for adapting to the ever-changing world of technology. You must make the path for your prospects as quick and easy as possible without expecting them to do the work. We live and market in an “I want it now and faster” world. A website created with Responsive Web Design will give your mobile device viewers the instant gratification and user experience that will assist you in gaining new customers and clients.

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Virginia Winery, The Winery at La Grange — Website Design Success

Winery at La Grange Home

We have received wonderful feedback from the folks at La Grange Winery in Haymarket Virginia as well as from winery staff and visitors of other Virginia wineries in the area.

We were so pleased to add another VA winery to our client list. We are proud supporters (winos) of the VA winery community and continue to do our part to help the community succeed (we drink a lot of wine). We would love to be a part of the marketing efforts of all Virginia wineries! (We really like wine!). We highly recommend everyone experience the pleasure of visiting the fine wineries our area has to offer.

Here are some helpful links for your own Virginia Wine tour:
Virginia Wine
The Winery at La Grange
Swirl Sip Snark

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