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The website of your nonprofit organization is at the center of your online marketing strategy. Therefore, it deserves the maximum effort to create a great, user-friendly website that works 24x7 to fulfill the goals of your nonprofit.

Here are 10 must-have features that can make a successful nonprofit website:

1. User Registration
User Registration is an excellent feature for your non-profit website. It enables serious visitors to establish a long-term connection with your website. The serious users provide you the basic necessary information that identifies them. That allows you to give these users a more privileged access to your website, and share more information with them. It generates good leads for your nonprofit in the long run.

2. Event Calendar
The event calendar helps the visitors to stay abreast of any forthcoming events that your non-profit may be organizing, or may be associated with. It is a good way to promote your events. At the same time, it gives advance information to the interested people who may like to attend or associate themselves with such events.

3. Discussion Forum
You can make your nonprofit website more interactive and participative by providing a separate section for discussions. It can be a moderated forum, or it may allow only registered users to participate, depending upon your needs. It allows members to know each other, and creates a sense of community and belonging among all the participants at your website.

4. Online Interactive Quizzes or Opinion Polls
Add interesting information to your website in the form of an online quiz that is relevant to your non-profit’s mission. It prompts the visitors to engage with your cause in an interesting manner. Opinion Polls can be an equally interactive option for your website. They can also help to highlight the issues or causes that your nonprofit may have espoused.

5. Online Donation Acceptance
Donations are the life blood of any non-profit organization. Make sure that your website has a provision to accept online donations through your website. The “Donors Button” should be placed prominently on the homepage and other pages of your website. It helps to translate the potential donor’s desire into real action.

6. Content Management System (CMS)
An online Content Management System can help you to manage the various streams of information and data on your website efficiently. It allows the website manager to update and maintain the data in an organized manner.

7. Blog feature
With your own website, you can have an exclusive Blog of your own at your own website! It can have the provision for readers’ comments and social bookmarking. It will improve the dynamic content of your website, and help from an SEO perspective as well.

8. Social Media Integration
Online marketing for your nonprofit cannot afford to ignore the growing importance of Social Media channels any longer. If you have a presence on social networking websites such as Facebook or Twitter, your website can provide a direct link to it. The readers can connect with you seamlessly at those networking sites through your website.

9. E-newsletter Subscription
People who visit your nonprofit website may also be interested in receiving regular updates and information directly into their mailbox. For such visitors, you can make a provision for a periodic e-newsletter. The content can be used from your website and blog, and delivered via email to the subscribers. It is a great way to maintain active contact with your supporters.

10. Contact Form
There should be a provision on your website for any visitor who may like to leave his or her contact information with you. This helps to build your database of relevant contacts/leads over a period of time.

These 10 features can make your nonprofit website truly professional, interesting, and useful from a visitor’s perspective, as well as gathering leads to grow your business.

How to Respond to an RFP

Responding to an RFP need not be a daunting task! You can use the step-by-step process, which follows (with examples), to help you respond to RFPs you receive from businesses wanting your design services.

Your RFP response should include a cover letter, company and product overview, and benefits of your working with your company. To begin with, you need to find answers to fundamental questions, to find out all that you need before you respond to an RFP. Answering the five “W’s” (Who, What, Why, When, Where) and one “H” (How) from the client’s perspective and your own perspective helps.

Who – requires your service and your introduction? It helps to break the introduction in to two well-planned parts. Include all the details about your prospective client in the first paragraph. Ensure that you summarize their needs and go ahead to tell them who you are. Don’t unnecessarily boast about your skills and abilities. Give your client an unbiased account of your skills.

 

Excerpts from my RFP response:
FIRM INFORMATION
Studio1c is a design firm founded in 2007 has expanded to include 9 other contractors; including designers, and website developers.
Studio1c’s mission is to create custom high-quality designs that cater to each clients’ unique requirements. Our experienced team provides print design, marketing, ongoing SEO, website development and hosting, maintenance and much more. Please visit our website, www.studio1c.com to see examples of our work.

What – does the company expect out of you and what you can do to help them?
Why – do they want your services and why they should choose you?

Excerpts from my RFP response:
Our unique integration of form, function and design puts us in a great position for this type of work. We are so confident that you’ll love the end result, that we guarantee our work!
We’d be pleased to refine this proposal if it does not adequately reflect your needs or goals for you.

You need to discuss your proposed services, while you answer the questions, “What” and “Why”. Address all the client requirements and your abilities to deal with them. Elaborate on your skills and experience to help the client place his/her trust in you. It helps to outline your strengths and distinctions, relate them to the scope of services to be provided for the clients’ project.

When – does the company expect you to complete the project and when you can start?

Excerpts from my RFP response:
PROJECTED TIMELINES AND BUDGET REQUIREMENTS
NEWLY DEVELOPED (CMS) CONTENT MANAGED SITE: I will select a CMS Joomla template that best addresses the design and functions you would like for your website. Second, we optimize all existing graphics into the proper placement in the template.

Where – is the company based at and your location?

How – much would it cost them, how much time and effort would you need to invest, and how do they pay you?
State your professional fees in the RFP response. Don’t sound too vague in quoting hourly and per-project rate. Make it as clear as possible, include fixed and variable pricing, so a client who requires hourly or per project rate receives a definitive idea of the budget.

Excerpts from my RFP response:
BILLING PROCESS
Studio1c will require payment of 50% of the project budget upon written agreement of compliance with proposal (email reply or retainer payment is acceptable); 50% upon completion of the approved work.

Most importantly, you need to customize the proposal and personalize it to the client. Don’t forget to thank the client for the opportunity to submit response. Ensure that you tell them why you would be the best choice and provide all the details they would require to contact you.

Website design you want to flaunt? You should consider posting your website on the popular website design award sites. It is a great way to promote your website design skills and business, and it shows your potential clients what you are good at too!

There are a number of website design award sites which showcase and award creative and technical talents of the online industry.

W3awards

Expertise

10 BestDesign

UpCity

Webby Awards
The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. Established in 1996 during the Web's infancy, the Webbys are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a 550-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities.

The Webby Awards presents two honors in every category -- The Webby Award and The People's Voice Award -- in each of its four entry types: Websites, Interactive Advertising, Online Film & Video and Mobile. Members of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences select the nominees for both awards in each category, as well as the winners of the Webby Awards. However, you, the online community, determine the winners of The People's Voice by voting for the nominated work that you believe to be the best in each category. Each year, the People's Voice Awards garners hundreds of thousands of votes from the Web community all over the world.

thebestdesigns.com
The Best Designs recognizes the best Flash and CSS web sites from around the world. Websites are categorized by CSS or Flash and also by elements of the design. TBD is usually updated every weekday, with the exception of holidays. More categories are gradually being added to the site, so make sure you come back to the site to see what's new, or you can sign up for Twitter updates.

mydesignaward.com
This site collects and gives you experience of 100’ds best designer around the world. You can gain from their experience, become better web designer. If you are looking for design award, you can send them your website link - and they will review your page quickly ! If you see your website in the featured categories - Congratulations! Your site has won an award from www.MyDesignAward.com

Interactive Media Awards
The Interactive Media Awards™ recognize the highest standards of excellence in website design and development and honor individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement. Created by the Interactive Media Council, Inc. (IMC), a nonprofit organization of leading web designers, developers, programmers, advertisers and other web-related professionals, the competition is designed to elevate the standards of excellence on the Internet and offer winners a boost in marketing and exposure. IMC serves as the primary sponsor and governing body of the Interactive Media Awards, establishes the judging system and provides the judges for the competition.

In order to cover operating and marketing expenses and discourage frivolous entries, there is a required entry fee per category of US$125. Bona fide nonprofit sites entering the competition under certain nonprofit categories can enter for US$75 (proof of legal not-for-profit status may be required).

coolestdesigns.com
This is s web site that lists the best designed web sites. They also give awards to the best of the best sites.

pixelawards.com
Established by Erick & Lisa Laubach in 2006, The Pixel Awards take a fresh look at the best on the web. It annually honors 20 compelling sites that have shown excellence in web design and development. Sites can be submitted in 20 diverse categories, including unique Geek and Green categories.

As a designer and occasional photographer, I found it helpful to carry around a little "cheat sheet" with these items when out in the field shooting. This reference is useful for amateurs and the occasional photographer wanting to learn more.

Many of these are applicable to SLR cameras and video camera settings as well

Resolution (for digital and video cameras)

  • Remember, you can't "add" resolution back into a photo once it's taken. However you can always decrease a photos resolution through a photo manipulation program such as Photoshop. The majority of digital cameras allow you to change this setting.
  • Fine, or High resolution - great for later printing or enlarging photo.
  • Low resolution - great for emailing or posting on the web.

F-Stop - Aperture (f-stop f/22 – f/1.4)

  • F/22 = aperture is more closed, giving a large depth of field 4ft -infinity - great for wide open landscape shots
  • F/16 = 5 - 18 ft in focus
  • F/8 = 6 - 11 ft
  • F/4 = 7-9 ft
  • F/1.4 = aperture more open, keeping the depth of field shallow and limited to what is nearby and blurring the background. Great for portrait photography.

Shutter Speed

  • Usually ranges from 1/8 second to 1/2000 of a second (most common default setting)
  • Leaving the shutter open for longer is excellent for interesting night shots.
  • Be sure to use a tripod for slow shutter speeds.
  • 1/8 (moving objects blurred) second will make a runner blurred, lights blurred or running water look soft.
  • 1/2000 (keeps moving objects sharp) of a second will stop a runner or running water.

ISO – Film speed (100-1000 speed)

  • 100 is for bright light, sharp and clear
  • 1000 is for dark or low light, grainy - There is also a filter you can use in PhotoShop to achieve this effect. (add noise)