Each month the Web 2.0 jury reviews the website
of a selected Canadian charity, focusing on its fundraising effectiveness. It's
a chance for the charity to receive personal coaching from two experts in
online communication and fundraising. To submit your site for review, contact the Editor. This month's candidate is Street Kids International.
ready for spring yet? It's felt like it's wanted to arrive for the past month,
but can't figure out how. This month's candidate, Street Kids International
, provides youth living below the poverty
line with sustainable job opportunities.
Branding-wise, this site screams "youth." The home page
welcomes visitors with cartoon-style characters reminiscent of Fat Albert and
the Cosby Kids, creating a playful tone that's both optimistic and hopeful. It
expresses what youth should be, as opposed to what it too often is for the
world's 700 million youth who live in poverty - an unjust struggle.
Great visuals but ...
The visual positioning is emotional and strong. The skilled
use of negative space in the banner and the outstanding stick figure animation
presented via YouTube give it an additional boost. But unfortunately, the site
starts to slide after the strong visual presentation.
Overall, streetkids.org has a bad case of the "hows." They speak
of innovative learning tools, primary prevention programs, microfinance, and
something called a "catalyst circle." If you know what any of that means,
you're one up on me.
Overhaul jargon now!
Charities, take note. If your core messaging hinges on the
words "policy," "strategy," "tools," "techniques," "programs," "support,"
"collaboration," or any other phrases that point to process over people, you
need to do an immediate overhaul. This is jargon. It's safe, impersonal,
utterly uninspiring and completely ineffective for motivating people or
bringing in donations.
Bring stories to the
But unlike many charity sites, Street Kids is sharing
stories of impact, drama and courage. At the very bottom of the home page is
Samuel's story. We don't see Samuel's story here, but after clicking through,
we hear all about his burgeoning new business, the new life he's leading, and
what this means for his two sisters, his mother, and his three close friends.
This is impact, this is a story, but I doubt many people are finding it.
Likewise for the dozen other stories buried on the inside pages.
What Street Kids International needs is a bit of focus and
distillation. They've started strongly with their clear visual branding,
engaging social media presence, and the strong work they've done to find and
express the stories of those they help.
What they need next is to bring those stories to the forefront.
They have the raw tools in place to create a leading user experience that puts
potential donors in direct contact with the people they're helping and the best
work they're doing.
Can Street Kids create a leading web presence? To paraphrase
, "yes they can," but to do it they'll need to
move away from talking about their work from their own perspective, and start
showing it through the eyes of the youth they're helping.
I give them a B- with a strong potential for improvement.
What are you seeing, Ryann?
sure hope spring is on its way, because I'm seeing re-growth and renewal at
every turn. So it's a good time for a website redesign!
Kori, I love your line "streetkids.org has a bad case of the
‘hows.'" I love that line because that's probably the defining issue of most
nonprofit websites. It's Street Kids International's main problem. But you're
right: it is fixable. This website definitely has quality content; it just
needs proper focus.
It's March! Either lose or repurpose the holiday giving
focus that's taken over the giving homepage. Don't you want to send the message
to potential donors that you're paying attention? Cut all that copy down to one
or two sentences on why someone should give. Also, have a prominent link at the
top leading to your main fundraising page, and offer a monthly giving link as
well (links in the left column are peripheral, not essential).
You're trying to convert folks to donors: keep them focused
on the goal! Post images of the kids they'll be helping. This is the low
You guys seem engaged. You have Facebook, Twitter, blog and
YouTube links. But your Facebook page has almost no content. No videos, no
interaction with your friends. You have videos and great stories - that's the
place to use them.
But back to the website, the great thing about that
stick-figure animated video - besides the video itself, which is great - is
that I felt connected to the street kids who might have watched that same
video. That's a powerful connection to your cause, and that's
what makes me want to contribute. I'd like to see a campaign
or two, because it's an opportunity to focus attention on one specific goal or
event and act as a giving catalyst.
Too much ‘how,' not enough ‘why.' The homepage should lose
the ‘about us' info and instead focus on news, events, developments, and of
course, compelling stories. Assume that people visiting your site have an idea
about who you are. Now you want to wow them with great content and have them
fall in love with you.
The messaging needs to be personal. I want to see stories
from the founder/ED/program worker. I want to see some bullet points that
relate the problem you're trying to solve, the organization's successes in
different countries, and those dramatic personal stories. You have some great
content in your e-newsletter - cross-post that on your homepage.
I really want to see a sign-up field for the e-newsletter so
you can build your list more strategically. And related to signing up, I'd like
to see more ways to get involved beyond infrequent volunteer positions. You
guys are well positioned to do some advocacy - it's a great way to get people
who are interested in your cause to take action and feel connected to you.
Plus, those activists make great donors.
Who is your target audience? You seem to be talking to
adults, but the cartoon characters are targeting kids. While I like the origin
of the cartoon characters on the fundraising links, and it works in your logo,
I don't think they're going to convince a donor to give. The photos you have of
actual street kids, however, will.
The overall site design isn't bad. It could use some
updating, but I see worse websites. It would be nice to have the banner be
dynamically rotating and have more dynamic content on the homepage. You're good
at prioritizing giving - which is nice to see. Otherwise, the site looks a
dated but works well enough.
Kori, I'll also give Street Kids International a B-. While
there's room for improvement, I think they get a lot of things right. These
guys could pretty easily become an A website. I hear they have a website
redesign in their future, so who knows, they might become an A website sooner
Natasha from Street
Kids International says
"Strangely enough, we couldn't agree with you more! We have
long felt that our unique selling features were buried under several layers of
explanation but did not know how to get to these important points. It seems
from what you say that we simply go too far. Good to know that less "how" is
more. Actually, maybe all we have to do is to dynamically demonstrate "who" we
Part of our fast-approaching website overhaul means moving
towards a CRM site so we can refresh and
add content in-house. We want to go a more visual and personal route. We can
easily say what we do in stories, videos and pictures. This review will give us
plenty to base our changes on. Thank you for your expert advice!"
Ryann Miller is director of nonprofit services at Care2,
where she helps charities and nonprofits recruit online supporters. She is the
former managing director of DonorTrends and was a senior fundraising consultant
at HJC New Media.
Kori Brus is
philanthropic counsel and marketing specialist at Good Works, where he focuses on nonprofit
campaign strategy and online engagement. He's the former communications
director of Ecojustice Canada
and former community manager for Web of
websites are www.Care2.com and
in case you want to pronounce your web jury judgment on them!