What does it cost to go without?
Another way to look at the question is to ask: "How much is the lack of a good website costing us?" Ask yourself how much you are paying to do the following marketing, communications, and customer service tasks, that could easily be integrated into an effective Website:
- Public Relations. Are you mailing out flyers, brochures, or press releases? Do you get calls from the press asking for information? Do you send them stuff through the mail, or go through the same old script over the phone? When you want researchers to be aware of your information, how much do you spend identifying them and getting them the information?
- Internal Communications. Does your organization spend lots of time reiterating communications that could easily be maintained electronically at one location? Wouldn't it be great to have standard documents, questions, forms, and other organizational documents available at the click of a mouse? Intranets and Extranets add the ability to keep standard documents available instead of copying and updating print copies, etc.
- Communicating with Sponsors, Backers, Members, or Major Customers. Do you have Board members, investors, sponsors, or major clients that need easy and secure information easily? Do they need to be in the loop constantly? A Website with a password-protected section satisfies many of these needs, reducing time spent on the phone, in conference, or mailing documents back and forth.
- Advertising and Marketing. While a Website does not replace advertising and marketing efforts, it has the potential to be a fantastic addition, an entirely new communications channel. Though people will find you through your Website, many will still be brought in using traditional advertising and marketing techniques. However, the cost savings begin once that first contact is made. A potential client, member, or donor will often require a lot of time and information before making a decision. A comprehensive Website will transfer much of this load off your staffers, while giving you greater control over the message that you are giving out.
- Providing News. If you are in the business of keeping your members updated, the media informed, and customers up-to-date, having the latest bulletins on a Website is much cheaper than mailing out newsletters or releases. If your newsletter is sophisticated in appearance, you can e-mail html newsletters, with links that seamlessly return to content on the site.
- Hiring Employees or Accepting Volunteers or Interns. Recruiting new employees, hiring staff, searching for an executive, even accepting an intern all can require lengthy information exchange. A good site can help share information about the organization, the position, and necessary qualifications. Likewise, such sites can gather detailed information about applicants. Maintaining job postings on-line reduces search costs. Candidates may do most of their research without taking up staff time. Finally, they may submit information confidentially using electronic forms, reducing the cost of mailing in both directions.
- Fund Raising. If you are doing fund-raising, it may be taking a lot of your time. How much of that is spent finding donors and informing them as to your needs and goals? How much is spent sending material and getting them familiar with your organization? How much time do you spend in the physical process of accepting, recording, providing receipts? Some of these tasks can be fully automated, others partially.