Before working with Trevor and Andrea, I spent the better part of a decade in and out of nonprofits. During those years, two things (important to this story) happened. First, I met my friend Lisa who now manages some marketing at the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. Second, I developed an appreciation for nonprofiteers’ ability to consistently do more with less. And as the late aughts and early teens brought lean times for everyone, especially nonprofit organizations, necessity fueled innovation — as it always has.
A few months ago, Lisa came to me with an ingenious request: to build an annual report website to replace her organization’s costly print version. Forever frugal in such matters, I questioned her reasons. After all, an electronic document (.pdf) easily could have been created and placed at jewishminneapolis.org to download for fewer precious marketing dollars.
Wisely, Lisa explained that her team had discussed it, but concluded a static .pdf lacks engagement qualities a finely constructed website possesses. In the olden days before nonprofit organizations had websites, a printed annual report not only was a way to share financial and organization information with donors and members, it was a promotional tool. It was a reason to start a conversation about the organization with the purpose of exciting new constituents. The Minneapolis Jewish Federation wanted to replicate the reason to communicate and realized a static document could never achieve that goal. The idea for annualreport.jewishminneapolis.org was born.
We built the site with lots of stories, engaging video and calls to action. It’s now a nonprofit sales (AKA donor solicitation) hub that invites people to participate in the group’s mission. And in the end, it still saved some money for the Minneapolis Jewish Federation, because they can manage content and didn’t need to print or physically mail an annual report to the folks who help them do good things.