Creating a compelling community outreach webpage

Four things to include on a winning website

Your community outreach web page should serve as a one-stop shop for fans and community members seeking to engage with your athletic department, staff and student-athletes. It’s also prime real estate when it comes to communicating your impact.

To maximize the brand-enhancing benefits of your outreach, serve as a useful tool for your fans and ensure a streamlined process for getting your student-athletes involved, your webpage should include the following:

  1. About section
  2. Instructions to request an appearance or memorabilia item
  3. Data showing your impact in the community
  4. List of things you’re involved in/causes you support

All. On. One. Easy to find. Page.

Let’s break it down:

1) About

The best community outreach programs are organized around an authentic mission and align with the overall strategy and goals of the athletic department (the Harvard Business Review says so here). The “About” section should highlight this mission and also include:

– Date program started

– Background of its creation

– Staff responsible for the program and contact information

EXTRA POINT: Create a direct, shortened link to your community page. It’s easier for staff to mention (and remember) a shortened URL than to direct them to the page via the menu options on the website.

Example: www.uwbadgers.com/page/giveback/badgers.com

Shortened URL: www.uwbadgers.com/badgersgiveback

University of Michigan Athletic Department includes background, mission and a “contact” function on its community page
The “Contact” tab of Michigan’s community page highlights the department’s platforms and includes staff photos and emails

2) Instructions to request an appearance or memorabilia item

The easiest way to turn someone looking to engage with your athletic department away is making the information they need hard to find. Listing your procedure for handling requests also saves you time. Listing the criteria and procedure will weed out a lot of requests before they make their way to your inbox — and save you a lot of time responding “no.” The links to request forms and list of criteria should be easily accessible and prominently featured on your page.

The University of Wisconsin Athletic Department includes the following guidelines on its Student-Athlete Appearance form https://uwmadison.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cUwOY4bdzoKTUEZ

3) Data

Showing the impact of your work is a vital component of capitalizing on the brand enhancing-benefits of engaging with the community. Fans and community members want to see that you’re going above volunteering and making a measurable impact. Statistics are a great way to showcase that you’re moving the needle. Here is a list to get you started:

– Number of hours volunteered

– Number of events attended

– Percentage of student-athletes who volunteer

– Number of student-athletes who volunteer more than a certain number of hours (for example, “10 student-athletes volunteered more than 40 hours”)

– Name of the student-athlete who volunteers the most hours and the number of hours volunteered

– Number of children/people/organization members assisted during a certain campaign or as part of one of your initiatives

– Number of toys/food/books collected at an event(s)

EXTRA POINT: How can you communicate your impact in a way that’s visually compelling? An infographic? A drop quote? Are you communicating it in a way that’s easily shared? Your data is the “slam dunk” of your outreach story, make sure you’re setting it up to reap success for your organization.

The University of Oklahoma Athletic Department uses an infographic to communicate its impact (via the Twitter account of Meghan Brooks, @mixmastermegs)

4) List of involvement

A webpage is the perfect platform to list all of your involvement in one place. If you have the right strategy in place (see #1), listing your involvement should feel like providing supporting bullet points to your main point, or cause area. Categorize and organize your involvement in a way that shows your commitment to an area or cause.

Categorizing your involvement by cause area is easier to read and shows your commitment to the cause

Categorizing your involvement by cause area not only shows your dedication to a cause area, it’s also easier for the reader to digest. Include a brief summary of each event, including such information as:

– Who you’re targeting with the program

– Which organization(s) you’ve partnered with

– How many people/things you’re impacting

– How many athletes participate in the program

– Duration — Ongoing? One-time? When?

The University of Texas Longhorns describe their many charitable initiatives on their website http://www.texassports.com/sports/2013/7/30/GEN_0730131412.aspx?path=general

For more inspiration, visit our list of “Nine examples of NCAA athletic departments communicating outreach impact online.”