It is common in the non-profit world for organizations to face challenges in keeping institutional technology up to date. With mission-critical expenses stretching funds to their max, upgrades to computer systems can be difficult to afford, let alone redesigning and relaunching a website. This is unfortunate because in the quest for visibility, volunteers, partnerships and donors, a website that represents the organization well can be the most important tool a non-profit has. Yet many of the most dedicated non-profits make enormous impacts on their community, but hardly any impact on the web, where their sites do little or nothing to attract beneficiaries, allies, or assistance.
It is with this limitation in mind that the Philip L. Graham Fund has made it part of their mission to offer technology update grants to community-improving groups in our area. A boon to charitable organizations all over the region, the Fund is named in memory of Philip L. Graham, who was publisher of The Washington Post from 1946 to 1961. From its inception in 1963, the Fund’s mission has been to commit its resources to the betterment of the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area through an array of grants across three main interest areas, including Arts & Humanities, Education, and Health & Human Services.
Grantees include both large, regional organizations as well as small, community-based groups. In many cases, these grants help support much needed technology upgrades, and in the case of BEACON—which was fortunate to receive a Graham grant in 2015—to upgrade its outdated website.
The project was a collaboration between the BEACON team and Multitool, a local marketing agency that caters to small businesses. The new website was built to serve as an active information center for community members, volunteers, students and donors. It features an abundance of new content, from preliminary guides for potential students to a wealth of online resources for teachers. Interactive elements now include useful tools like a totally web-based volunteer application form and a detailed, searchable calendar that outlines classes, locations, training dates, and more. The articles from each BEACON newsletter are posted on the website for easy reading, and a new online donation page is available for the convenience of our donors.
Since the site was launched at the beginning of the fall semester, it has reached over 1,300 new visitors, with many spending several minutes at a time browsing the site and finding information. “The feedback we’ve gotten has been overwhelmingly positive, and it’s clear that the new content is really serving BEACON’s visitors in an easy, informative, and enjoyable way,” said Marianne Racca, Director of Development & Programs. “It’s so user-friendly, and such a quantum leap from where we were before. It also will allow us to build upon it in countless ways in the future, to meet the needs of our students and our program, which makes it an even more outstanding investment.”
The Philip L. Graham Fund grant also provided funding to upgrade BEACON’s technology program which replaced laptops and enabled us to purchase tablets for our ESOL program. Ms. Racca added, “We are very grateful for the generosity of the Graham Fund and their support and contributions to BEACON.”