As the public face of an organization, a website is an essential marketing tool for any business or non-profit. For non-profits especially, website development, maintenance and updating can get lost in more pressing needs like fund-raising. Or there simply may not be staff available to do the work. All too soon the website is woefully out of date.

Non-profit needs new website

That’s what happened to Creative Communications Consultants’ long-time pro bono client, Home for Life, the Home for Life logoAnimal Sanctuary of the St. Croix Valley (HFL.) The organization is a non-profit dedicated to providing a “forever home” to animals that can live full lives but are old, disabled, have behavior concerns or suffer from medical conditions. These animals are considered unadoptable and would probably be euthanized. Home for Life has created an innovative third option, a model sanctuary they call the Third Door which offers a loving, life-affirming alternative.

The sanctuary recognizes that these animals can thrive if given the medical attention they need and the affection they crave. What’s more, Home for Life’s animals give back through outreach programs at hospitals, nursing homes, domestic violence shelters and camps for at-risk teens.

Home for Life desperately needed a new website – one that would showcase their animals, be easy to navigate and emphasize the need for donations. They had gotten quotes for a new site that were for thousands of dollars. As a donor-supported organization, Home for Life was reluctant to spend donations for a new website. Not when animal food, medicine, supplies and equipment were needed.

CCC finds a solution

Overnight-Website-Challenge-LogoCCC works with Home for Life throughout the year to help publicize annual events like their fall fundraiser, affectionately known as the Fancy Feast. As the group’s marketing partner, we were well aware of the need for a new website.

We also partner on client projects with The Nerdery, a local interactive development company. When we learned about The Nerdery’s annual Overnight Website Challenge (OWC,) we saw a perfect solution to Home for Life’s need at an affordable price (free!) At the OWC, teams of volunteer web development pros are paired with selected, local non-profits. In just 24 hours, The Nerdery’s volunteers design and program a new site for their assigned non-profit. The cost for design and development is a very low $0.00.

CCC helped Home for Life successfully complete the application process, and HFL was one of only 18 Twin Cities non-profits selected this year.

After HFL was selected for the challenge, CCC worked with the group’s director to clarify goals for the new website:

  • To create positive feelings about the organization and its work
  • To clearly communicate HFL’s mission and what differentiates HFL from shelters and adoption organizations
  • To encourage donations and make the donation process easy.
  • To allow HFL to easily update the site

Building a website in a day!

The website development team at work

The team at work

Armed with objectives, a new site map and graphics ideas plus photos and copy from the existing website, CCC sallied forth to be the client’s representative at the 24-hour OWC event, April 12-13. (Yes. It meant working 24 hours straight. They don’t call it the Overnight Website Challenge for nothing.)

CCC’s on-site staffer worked with The Nerdery’s Drupal Rocks team, answering questions, editing and entering content, adding ideas, ingesting copious amounts of sugar and caffeine and going without sleep. The resulting preliminary site was judged by a team of local non-profit and interactive development leaders. Next there will be a client review, a final judging on April 30th and then the site goes live where it will be judged by the ultimate court – the audience of potential donors.

You can vote, too

There’s also a “People’s Choice” award for the best OWC website make-over. Please check out the new HFL site here (Team Drupal Rocks.) If you wish, you can cast your own vote before the April 30th deadline.

What comes next?

Completing a website development project successfully feels great, especially when the finished site ticks all the boxes for objectives. Helping a deserving organization get a new website for free feels even better.

But CCC’s work isn’t over. As wonderful as a new website is, it’s only as helpful as the amount of traffic it draws. We’ll provide a plan for ways to generate site traffic that go beyond the search engine optimization that was part of site development.

Need help with your website development or company promotion? For more information, contact CCC or email me, Susan McPherson, at

Creative Communications Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a business-to-business marketing communications agency, staffed by animal lovers. We specialize in providing strategic marketing communications thinking to marketers of industrial and commercial products who target B2B audiences.