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3 Min Read

Three Pros Talk Web Strategy for Foundations Big and Small


So Mitch Hurst and Barry Scholl and Lucas Held were, like, on the spot because their session on website audiences/web marketing didn’t get the prior review from the session cop. (That would be me.)

Good news: I had nothing to worry about. These three pros walked us through a hugely informative session on how a well-planned web strategy – one that’s thoughtful, developed based on research, built for the right audiences, clearly reflective of the foundation’s mission, marketed adequately, and measured (more easily than you might think) can win friends and influence people.

Mitch is a righteous dude who walked us through the cultural barriers we all face in developing websites that work — silos, bureaucracy, etc. He offered rational arguments we can all use in making the case to the suits (God, I love writing that even though I am one) for strategic investment in a more robust web site: 1) It’s the future and 2) Hello! The conversations are taking place without us anyway.  So get it in the game before it’s too late.

He arced through a three-year saga, Ira-like, with conflict midstream, before getting it right at Mott’s wonderful conceived site.

Barry, clever man, walked us through four acts (more shades of Mr. Glass) of how he arrived at the Commonwealth Fund – right guy, right time – to help develop the kind of content rich, relevant and useful site you’ll see at commonwealthfund.org. All their great stuff – 100 new publications per year – goes out web only. Key lesson: He, and they, asked as they planned and designed the new site. They asked the audiences, they went TO the audiences by going to relevant conferences, they used simple techniques (Survey Monkey, duh). Look at the upward trajectory of their site’s visits on one of his slides (Act III or Act IV) for a great visual demonstration of what you get when you plan well.  (Editor’s note: we hope to post the slides soon.)

And is there a more thoughtful person in our field than Lucas Held? He’s logical, like Spock. Uses “concomitant” in a sentence. He patiently walked us through the Wallace Foundation’s use of search engine optimization. The success speaks for itself: Wallace’s Knowledge Center site hews to the foundation’s brand, is a downright pleasant experience for the visitor, and brings ohmigod traffic to the site.

Key takeaway: You do it by being smart, planful, and by making sage and affordable investment in search term marketing. Don’t miss the PowerPoint slide that show the impressive growth of Wallace’s numbers. I am SO jealous.

Good Q and A, too. Three big foundation fellas offered good tips for anyone – megafoundation and small staffed – to go back and make immediate improvements.

Bud Meyer

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