A local digital marketing agency is rolling out a new initiative to help West Michigan nonprofits.
Grand Rapids-based LaFleur Marketing announced its first nonprofit website initiative that offers professional web development services to nonprofit organizations free of charge.
The initiative was birthed from a culture founder Chip LaFleur established to help the community by allowing staff to donate their time, a half a day out of their work schedule, to help a nonprofit of their choice in any capacity.
“We were doing that for a while, but then we got to thinking, ‘What can we, as an organization, do to have the biggest (community) impact in the most cost-effective way possible,’ and the thing that we are best at is building a website and help them perform well online,” he said.
To test that notion, LaFleur and his staff of 20, which include writers, web developers and a project web designer among other positions, volunteered to offer their services to help an organization.
LaFleur said the agency began working with Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue, a nonprofit that helps terminally ill patients find homes and families for their pets, to update its digital presence.
Jill Bennink-Albrecht, founder of Tyson’s Place Animal Rescue, said the nonprofit began working with LaFleur last March to build a new website because they do not have a physical location. As a result, the majority of the organization’s work is done online.
“We had some issues with the adoption application,” Bennink-Albrecht said. “There wasn’t room for additional comments and there were some issues with the flow of the adoption application. There was some frustration by potential adopters in having issues filling out the application. The old website also didn't always show well on cell phones.”
In addition to online application woes, LaFleur said the organization’s online presence was hampered by poor website optimization.
“Poor search results meant they were missing out on much-needed traffic to get donations and volunteers,” he said.
According to LaFleur, the agency worked with Tyson’s Place to improve calls to action for donations and foster home applications, integrate a “pet finder” app into the website, streamline forms for adoptions and fostering applications, create new sections detailing Tyson’s Place’s policies, upcoming events and adoption success stories, and a modernized design with an intuitive user interface.
After the project was deemed a success, LaFleur officially launched his new initiative this year in which organizations can begin applying. He said the agency will choose one nonprofit each year and build its website.
Along with building a new website, the marketing agency also will offer one year of web hosting services, one round of design revisions during the initial website design process, five new pages of website content, optimized for SEO and built-to-drive conversions, migration of up to 20 pages from the current website and one contact form or one other type of form on the new website.
To qualify, organizations must have 501(c)(3) status and operate within 50 miles of Grand Rapids. Organizations also must agree to participate in interviews regarding the project and allow the marketing agency to publicize its involvement, share its current and anticipated funding numbers with LaFleur and provide documentation that proves nondiscrimination policies are established within the organization.
The nonprofit website initiative is just the latest effort by LaFleur to remain a fixture in communities across West Michigan.
Since LaFleur founded his marketing agency in 2014, it has participated in community events and work with organizations such as Gilda’s Club, Thrive, Brewers Grove, KaBOOM and Slow Food West Michigan, among others.
LaFleur said the agency will continue to work with those organizations as he implements the new initiative.