International charity website reprieved, £35k saved

An international charity was unhappy with their website. It was less than 2 years old and they’d just been ditched by their web agency. Internally, voices were clamouring to throw it away and start again.

I was called in to advise.

The problem

I welcomed being asked “Do we need to spend money?” rather than “We’ve decided to spend money on this, now make it happen” because it let me be totally honest in my assessment.

The charity's website had not had an easy genesis. The agency developing it had underestimated how much work was involved, and it had been rushed. The in-house comms team weren’t enamoured with the Drupal CMS chosen, and found it didn’t live up to what they’d been sold.

The site was tightly integrated with internal and external-facing apps, all built on the same platform. Throwing away the website would mean replacing all the apps as well.

The solution

It quickly became apparent that internal politics were a major problem. Different international factions had different views of what the website should be and who was the audience. Some saw it as a fundraising tool targeting supporters, others as a resource for those being helped. This resulted in every department being dissatisfied with the website as it met no one’s goals.

I realise organisations like visual change, as can be seen by the craving for a new website every 2-4 years. I wasn’t against the charity getting one, but a quick look showed a new website would not work until the politics was resolved.

Plus I was very conscious they’re a charity with a mission. Was spending on a new website going to further their cause? Or would it distract from what was needed?

I recommended they:

Results

Since working on the problems with an experienced developer, a lot of the friction within the organisation has been removed. This work led onto discussions about strategy, and an internal review was undertaken.

No new website was commissioned, saving the budgeted £35,000 to be spent on charitable and donor management purposes.

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