Back to Basics (and Star Wars Day)

I am not sure how many of you out there knew this, but last Saturday was Star Wars Day (#starwarsday).  What made it Star Wars Day?  It was May 4th… as in “May the 4th be with you”!  Total geek humor and total geek day.  Luckily my two girls (age 8 and 10) are rabid Star Wars geeks so we celebrated in style.Han in carbonite

We spent the day watching Star Wars movies and made these awesome Han Solo  in carbonite ice cream sandwiches.  If you look closely you can see the little “Han”, made out of tootsie rolls.

Needless to say, we had a fabulous day.

So what does this have to do with you and nonprofits struggling with technology?

The day reminded me of a very important principle that we constantly preach here at Nonprofit R+D:

Focus on the Basics

If you have ever heard me present or train you know I am a big fan of building a strong foundation and focusing on the basics first.  In building the ice cream sandwiches we first had to make the base (foundation), which was made of chocolate brownies.  We made the brownies and then had to wait over an hour to let them cool… it was not easy waiting that long to move on to step 2.  However, we had to wait or the second layer of ice cream would have melted all over the brownies and they would have been ruined.

In the area of nonprofit technology,  I often present about my “Online Hierarchy of Needs”, Online Heirarchy of Needsbased on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  The Online Hierarchy of Needs is a framework for building your online presence by first focusing on the foundation (your website) and then moving up the levels to get to the more advanced online tactics like online fundraising and social media.

The key to the model is to build a strong foundation.  If you do not have a strong foundation and jump ahead to something like social media you could actually do more harm to your organization than good.  What would happen if you somehow had a video go viral and drove 10,000 visitors to your website?  Could people find what they were looking for?  Would they get frustrated with your navigation?  What would they think about the look and feel of your site?

So the moral of the story (and tip for Han in caronite ice cream sandwiches) is to first build that strong foundation and then add onto that with your more advanced tactics (like ice cream!).

If you are looking for help in building your foundation, you’re in luck.  We have a webinar series starting this week presented by NTEN:

Getting Started In NP Tech: Tools and Tips for Successnten-logo

It is a 3-part webinar series over the next three weeks covering:

  • 13 Things Your Nonprofit Website Needs in 2013 (5/9/13)
  • Getting Started with Online Fundraising (5/16/13)
  • Beyond the Donate Button: Online Fundraising Today (5/23/13)

You can register for the entire series or just one or two of the sessions individually.  Check out the link above to learn more and register today… we look forward to seeing you in the series!

As always, let us know if you have any questions or comments and let us know what you did for Star Wars Day!



About Rich Dietz

Rich Dietz has spent his entire career working both in and with a wide variety of nonprofit, political and government organizations as well as technology companies focused on the nonprofit sector including Sage Nonprofit, Convio and KIMBIA. It is this unique background and experience – working directly in nonprofit organizations AND working on the technology side – that allows him to better understand and assist nonprofit organizations with their technology needs. Richard holds a M.S.W. from the University of California – Berkeley as well as a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA.

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