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Using volunteers to maintain your website

The best websites have one person who is responsible for gathering new content. This person knows how to format text in a compelling way and is familiar with basic marketing principles, web standards and search engine optimization practices. Nonprofits often have an ongoing challenge of finding volunteers for even the simplest task. Finding someone with the technical skills required to effectively maintain a website can be even more difficult.

One alternative we often recommend to finding a single individual to handle the entire project is to split the job into three distinct roles: Editor, Poster and Technical Advisor.

The editor

  • Responsible for collecting content
  • Always includes the date that it needs to be removed from the site
  • Writes copy exactly as it is to be posted

Necessary qualifications:

  • Good grammar and punctuation
  • Good communication, written and verbal
  • Comfortable and familiar with email and attachments

The poster

  • Responsible for posting information to the website
  • Keeps track of what information is on the site and when it needs to be removed
  • Confirms when information has been received
  • Provides estimated date/time when the changes will be completed
  • Contacts The Editor with all questions about new content

Necessary qualifications

  • Ideally, the candidate for this position will have experience working with your specific content management system (CMS). This will make the transition as smooth as possible.
  • If this is not possible, the minimum skill set required is a solid understanding of Microsoft Word. This person will need one-on-one training to understand the CMS.

Technical advisor

  • Answer questions
  • Make more complicated changes to the website such as adding or removing pages, changing navigation or adding plugins
  • Manage software updates

Additional recommendations

  • Arrange to meet with the Editor and The Poster regularly to review upcoming and past events and to discuss the current state of the website.
  • Make it general practice at the end of every meeting to ask the question, “Is there anything we discussed here today that should be posted on the website? Who will be responsible to passing along this information to The Editor?”
  • Leading up to and following every event, assign one person to be responsible for sending information about that event to The Editor.

Your website is your public face. It is often the first contact someone will have with your organization and it is where they will expect to find the most up-to-date information. Responsibility for its upkeep and maintenance is best given to a team of smart, driven, committed individuals whose skills are suited to the task.

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