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admin February 20th, 2009

THE AGE, JULY 5, 2006. ADAM TURNER

TAKING UP THE CHARITY CHALLENGE

This children’s cancer charity needed profile-boosting IT solutions. Adam Turner reports.

Challenge’s marketing manager Taryn Lupton helped design the charity’s new website.

JUST because you’re not out to make a profit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look professional.

Challenge is an Australian not-for-profit support organisation for children living with cancer – organising camps, family support and activities, financial assistance and holiday accommodation. Challenge receives no government funding and is completely dependent on donations.

With more families turning to the internet for information, plus growing competition for corporate donations, Challenge decided to upgrade its static website to a dynamic site with polished look and feel, says Challenge marketing manager Taryn Lupton.

“A lot of families are starting to go online and it is important for them have an information source that is always updated,” Lupton says. “Also, demand for our services is growing and with that we felt the need to increase our corporate funding. The charity sector is cluttered and there are many important causes out there. It’s becoming apparent that your branding and the values that you portray are very important and our website is a key factor in conveying these to both people who use our services and the corporate sponsors that support those services through their social responsibility programs.”

Challenge’s staff did not have direct access to its old website and were forced to make changes through a third party, making it difficult to keep the site up to date. Lupton recognised the ability to quickly update the site was a key element of any website overhaul. One of Challenge’s corporate sponsors introduced Lupton to Melbourne’s Newpath IT, which agreed to overhaul the organisation’s site at a “significant discount” as part of its own social responsibility program.

“We wanted to design a website that was flexible in that we could update not just the text but the images and banners. Newpath came up with a couple of designs for us to work off, then I actually came up with four or five designs with features I liked and we merged them to come up with the one we’ve got now,” Lupton says.

With only nine staff and no in-house technical skills when it comes to web design, Lupton appreciates the new website’s simplified back-end which requires very little training for staff to update content.

“It’s as simple as using the Windows operating system and as immediate. It’s great not having to send something off and wait for a developer to make the changes, we’re able to do it straight away. The flexibility has really changed both the way we use the website and the way others interact with it,” she says.

“The site also reduces our administration because we can direct people to the website to download a PDF document, for example, rather than us having to post it and them having to wait for it to arrive.

“People can also make donations directly through the website, which is a significant technological step forward for us.”

A growing number of organisations are finding the need to take immediate control of their websites, yet lack the in-house technical skills to handle advanced content management, says Newpath IT managing director Nathan Sinnott.

“Pretty much every page on the site we built for Challenge is a dynamic page, so they can go into the administrative area of the website and easily change all of the content on the page. It’s done through a customised editor that we built for them, with the simplicity of only having to understand the basics of Microsoft Word,” Sinnott says.

“There’s no technical knowledge required from Challenge, which we thought was critical. As a charity they want to keep costs as low as possible, especially with technology.

“With this site they don’t have to continually come to us and request changes to be made, or pay us to maintain the website for them.” One of the most important stages of developing such a site is the initial consulting phase, before which Newpath IT issues customers with a booklet it developed to assist them in assessing their requirements.

“One of the questions in the booklet asks them to list five competitors and what they like about their websites, and then another five and what they dislike about those websites. It gives us a good feel for want they want from a design and functionality perspective,” Sinnott says.

“We have satisfaction guarantees behind our service and we wouldn’t be able to meet them if we walked into a meeting to ask a client what they want and they said ‘I don’t know’ and it turned into a three-minute meeting.

“Most businesses don’t understand technology, so you have to walk them through it with a lot of dignity and respect. Basically you do a lot of hand-holding but do it professionally so that you’re making them feel comfortable and ultimately you’re . . . delivering what they actually want.”

Source: TheAge.com.au, July, 5, 2006

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