A couple weeks ago I read an article in the Globe and Mail titled “Google ‘gives away’ websites” that I’ve been wanting to blog about. My desire to write about the article is not so much derived from the program itself (although a worthy initiative) but the underlying problem it’s trying to resolve and how that affects the nonprofit world.
 
To summarize, the article is about a new Google program called Get Your Business Online or GYBO (www.gybo.ca) that “aims to give away thousands of websites to Canadian small businesses to encourage them to establish an online presence.” They make two excellent observations that I want to highlight:
 
> “Canadians spent an average of 43.5 hours a month online in the last months of 2010… almost double the global average
> “The most likely reasons a Canadian business might ignore the Web are fears it is too costly or complicated, or it is unnecessary.
 
That all makes sense and I wholeheartedly agree so let’s take it one step further; if for-profit businesses are struggling with using the web effectively, it stands to reason that non-profits have just as much or more difficulty doing so. That’s because non-profits and charities will generally have tighter budgets and smaller staff so there are even less resources to devote towards developing their online presence.
 
Unfortunately, Google’s GYBO program is for Canadian small businesses, but ConnectAd has launched a new program called Project ConnectAd with a similar mission: to encourage organizations (in this case, charities) to establish online presence. Project ConnectAd is a non-profit initiative connecting charities with free graphics design services (i.e. websites, graphics and videography) provided by volunteer student designers looking to gain exposure and experience. The advantages of having that talent develop your website is an attractive visual identity and a professional look which will enhance your credibility with online visitors. Combine that visual appeal with a good organization displaying engaging content and it will go a long way in establishing trust with your audience.
 
While Project ConnectAd won’t be on the same scale as Google’s GYBO, we think it will go a long way in helping charities develop their online presence. For more information on Project ConnectAd, email us at project@connectad.ca or follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/projconnectad

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