You volunteered, but you didn’t ask for this

Christine Inherits a Website

I first got to know Christine, the president of my community league, when I approached her about starting a community garden in our neighborhood. She liked the idea, but when we talked about how I can spread the word to get volunteers, I began to think this will take years. And it wasn’t anyone’s fault.

I had a flyer ready to go. But the community league wanted to attach it to the printed newsletter which they stuff in mailboxes. And they send it out only twice a year—the next one would be four months away.

“Well, why don’t we put a notice on the sign board in the park,” I said, “With the URL to the community league’s website?”That’s when Christine’s face fell. She then proceeded to unload her frustration.

Christine had inherited the website from the previous president, but she knew very little except how to log in. One time she struggled for hours trying to get a new picture added to a page. And she never was able to remove outdated pictures from the slider on the home page.

She had approached the media company who built the website five years ago and who still bills the community every year. When she asked for help, they sent her to a contractor. “They don’t care about little clients like me,” she said.

“The contractor only works office hours, so I had to take time off work and drive downtown and pay for parking. Then I had to sit there and argue with him about what I want. I didn’t get what I wanted, and he still charged us his time. It was so frustrating!”

She enlisted the help of her son’s friends. They weren’t sure what to do either, but they managed to fix some things, although it’s still not right.

As result, Christine was creating only a few posts a year. To make matters worse, the content was hard to read because the font was so tiny. And on the sidebar, you could sign up to receive email newsletters, but no one knew where those sign-ups were going.

A Website Can Help Volunteer Engagement

Christine and I then moved on to talk about the challenge of getting people to volunteer on the league`s board of directors. I knew from my own experience that the surest way to get volunteers is to get your community engaged. You do this by letting them know what you’re up to and by keeping them informed and entertained.

Today, the foundation for doing that is with an active, engaging website. If you give your community valuable content to read in their social feeds, their emails, or their browsers, and you back it up with a solid, high-performing website, they will be more inclined to appreciate what you do and will reciprocate by supporting you.

Help for the Web Admin

It was clear that the community league board had lots of opportunity to improve its communications. And I still had my goal of getting garden volunteers the easy way. So, I offered to take over the website mess and turn it into a valuable website that`s easy to maintain.

I knew exactly what it would take because I had already done this twice before for other volunteer organizations. And I have seen first-hand how hard it is for new volunteer web admins to pick up the task with no guidance nor any clues about the website’s uniquenesses.

Therefore, I decided that I would write about the process I use so that new web administrators—and anyone else who can identify with Christine and her situation—can take up the task with much less stress and greater confidence.

In my next post, I’ll talk about the first things to do when you are handed the responsibility of being the web administrator for your organization’s website.