chaosWorking with non-profits on their websites, we commonly see two problems: (1) they have trouble generating content, they have no new information to put on their site, or (2) they are overwhelmed with content and their site is a jumble of unprioritized competing messages and announcements.

Both cases are painful for the staff, and discouraging for their audiences.

The Big 6

Interestingly, the solution for both cases is similar. Focus on the most important stuff. What are the six big events in the year that you need EVERYONE to know about? If you don’t have any content, start with these. If you have too much content, push everything else back and focus on these.

Maybe it’s not six, maybe it’s four, or maybe it’s eight. But the point is to focus on the BIG stuff and put resources on doing those right.

If you work for a church, your Big 6 probably include Easter, Christmas, Vacation Bible School and a few other church-wide events and missions.

In a non-profit you may have an annual conference, big fund raisers, and other large projects that support your mission.

A timely feature story every week of the year

Each of these events typically is promoted months in advance. If you have six events and you promote them on the home page of your website for two months each, you automatically have a timely feature story for every week of the year. With six good stories you can survive for a whole year. It’s not optimum, but it’s better than many churches and non-profits are doing now.

Focus resources

If you are short on resources, spend your favors and budget on these six stories. Get people working on them far in advance. Find photos from last year. You don’t need all the details in advance, the stories can evolve as details are confirmed, but start getting something ready to promote the next big event. If you have to pay someone to write or take pictures for you, these are the topics most worthy of spending your limited cash. If you can call in favors and twist arms to get volunteer help, these are stories to work on.

If you are swamped with content, make sure you don’t let the little things prevent you from properly covering the Big 6. Carve out time and budget to get these six right, and if you run out of time (which you probably will), let the smaller stories suffer. Everyone will be reading about the Big 6. Not everyone will care about the smaller events. If you have budget for promotion, most of it should be spent on these top events. If you try to spread a modest budget across a hundred items, probably none of them will get enough exposure to do any good. Focus on the Big 6.

Results

It’s hard to do communications in a non-profit. There is always too much work, not enough money, and virtually no staff. Volunteers are great, but often not very dependable.

In this world, prioritization is imperative. Usually the Big 6 will generate more results for your organization than the next 50 events combined. Keep your focus on getting the Big 6 promoted and see if that doesn’t help start a process that can be applied to the next level of your communications.