December 2012: Ask the Expert with Online Communities and Solutions Expert Seth Leonard

6 Jan

Cause Communications Monthly Meetup Follow-up – December 2012

By Jen Burstedt

Seth Leonard, a website developer and online communities expert, joined the meetup to answer our many questions about online presence. Seth matches systems for what non-profits are doing. He has content management system (CMS), social media and programming skills. Other strengths include: Drupal, Word Press, Convio, Salesforce.

Seth says…

  • Separate solutions can be a really good idea when there are separate software programs for essential functions.
  • May be a better idea to create 2 systems if we can get 2 kinds of things done separately very well
  • Keep in mind – it’s not always the best idea to keep everything in 1 (for example, donation – database – email newsletter system) — if these things don’t all belong together, don’t put them together.


  • Is free for non-profits
  • You can get up to 10 free licenses
  • Customizations cost money; it’s recommended you try not to customize if possibleSome other ideas of things people use : Zoho (not too non-profit friendly) ; Salsa (one organization said her company is moving off of Salsa)

How do we figure out what solution is best?

  • Drawing up a dream plan first, and then looking to the solutions that are out in the market, is a better idea than seeing the solutions first
  • Define your “must haves” versus “really wants”
  • * An independent consultant helped one organization choose what system to use – a better solution because it isn’t a biased salesperson
  • * A great way to start is by identifying the non-profit’s needs first, then looking for solutions

How do I future proof my website?

  • Don’t design to be too trendy
  • Stick to functionality at the core
  • Drupal or Word Press are good because updates are easier
  • Upgrading: when thinking of future upgrades, as little customization as possible is a good idea.
  • Try to understand what will be edited now versus later (i.e. events will need to be updated; your “History” page of the background of the organization may not change too often)

Google Analytics

  • Use Google Analytics (it’s free) and the funnel tool, to understand your audience

Your Audience

  • Make sure you know your groups
  • A lot of trial can happen within a website

Getting Pro Bono Help

  • Go to Volunteer Match
  • YNPN list serve
  • Recruit someone to be on the Board
  • While doing so, make sure that your pro bono workers feel that they are being valued.
  • Give the pro bono worker $500 to work with, after they have proven themselves. This will allow them to feel responsibility and, assuming they’ve already done good work, more motivated to do high quality work as there is something real at stake
  • Take them out for dinner once a quarter
  • Volunteer party to say thanks (end of year party)

Social Media: Another Form of Outreach

  • What you put in is what you get out
  • It isn’t “Free”

How To See Success?

  • Create 20 tracking links for events on different websites and see which one has the most impact
  • Google URL customizer is very coool – will add a unique URL tag to your URL. Good for campaigns to see how many clicks (Tech Soup does this)

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