Short rant-y bit.
Some of the methods we fundraisers use to get information out to our audiences are developed to showcase what we want the audiences to know. Blergh. We have to develop pathways that provide what the audience wants to know. Big difference.
H-to-the-r is working on a project. She’s on-line, looking for contacts and contacts’ names at a bunch of universities. The contacts work in areas related to alumni activities. H has worked in university environments for years. She knows how to look for people on pages and directories. H has a wonderful new computer. H is way smart.
It’s bad enough that some of the universities’ pages won’t load quickly (do they think home and international computer users have the same university-speed load times?). Some won’t load at all (ack!). But if she gets on a site, and if she finds that the department site she needs exists, she is finding it a very difficult task to find Phone Numbers on these sites. Phone Numbers. Come on.
It’s fairly easy to find links to click or ‘contact us’ forms. It’s harder to find actual names of individuals with certain responsibilities. H can’t find basic phone numbers, or department phone numbers even!!
So props to the streamliner universities who don’t infest their pages with long download time gadgets, sound files (Peaches & Herb, really?), flashkibbles and moviebits. Props to those that list alumni and development staff, that add photos of staff members, that have phone numbers and e-mail addresses for actual staff members. Props to those who let the audience ask the questions it wants to ask, and ask directly.
Isn’t the point of relationship-building to help prospects and donors know who we are, what we do and why we’re there? Shouldn’t we be prepared to deliver the information the audience is going to need? Aren’t we suppose to help them help us raise the ducats?
So I am wondering if the distance that a poorly-messaged (is that phrase way wack?) website creates between the audience and the fundraiser is an institutionally acceptable way of telling the audience what we want them to know. The acceptance of this delivery method gives us the freedom and distance to decide when we will talk to someone who needs an answer, or gives us the excuse of an increased response time to an e-mail message to a general mailbox.
You know I loves me some social technologies, even basic ones like a website. I just don’t like them to serve as a barrier to real talkings. Real talkings is the only time we get to provide an immediate answer to the questions the donor wants to ask, provide what the donor wants to know.
<<shaking it off>>