Knock, Knock:
A Peek Inside Your Virtual Front Door

By Gina Ryan, CAE

A rewarding task of the NYSAE Awards Committee is choosing three of our not-for-profit organizations to showcase their excellent websites. In choosing the 2014 cyberspace awards, the committee members visited the virtual headquarters of our members’ associations. Recipients of NYSAE’s 2014 Website Excellence Awards, representing best practices in website engagement were:

Have a yen for Girl Scout cookies? Want to know more about the American Group Psychotherapy Association’s 9/11-trauma response that resulted in its receiving the NYSAE Social Responsibility Award? Like to see how the American Chemistry Council’s dynamic educational resources on energy, the environment, health, and technology are poised to promote public safety? Visit the above websites for a delightful tour of what an association can do online.

Click image to enlargeNYSAE Website Excellence AwardNYSAE presented its 2014 Website Excellence Awards to (left to right): Pauline Waller, Girl Scouts of the USA (donor category); Marsha Block, CAE, CFRE, CEO, American Group Psychotherapy Association (professional category); and Janire Hopkins and Steve Rosario, American Chemistry Council (trade association category).

Be inspired by learning how AGPA continues to respond to communities in need. It provided consultation, training, and support at national and international levels in response to the tsunamis in Southeast Asia, Hurricanes Rita, Katrina, school shootings at Virginia Tech, fires in the southwest, terrorist events in Mumbai, India, and the earthquakes in China, Italy, Haiti and Japan.

More than ever, our associations’ websites are the primary marketplaces for donors, members, and industries to introduce themselves, interact, share ideas, build constituencies, foster best practices, provide social networks, engender advocacy, and set benchmarks.

In reviewing websites, NYSAE’s Awards Committee looked not only at aesthetics and ease of navigation for finding essentials like purpose, membership, and pressrooms, but also things like originality, consistency, timeliness, usefulness, and total Internet vision. Links to their sites on facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, uTube, and Pinterest extend an organization’s ability to engage constituents beyond its core website.

Site visitors like to see an uncluttered virtual environment that is easy on the eyes, simple to navigate, has attractive graphics, and features compelling videos. Information that is buried in obscure places or that is contained in a boring list of PDFs that must be downloaded results in frustration that leaves a negative perception of the organization.

Websites provide insight to an organization’s cultural values and social philosophy. Multi-lingual options and a strong undercurrent of diversity provide an inviting and welcoming virtual presence.

Click image to enlargeNYSAE Outstanding Information Technology AwardMichael Madder, Digital Content Manager, and Joel Olesher for Engineering for Change, were presented with NYSAE’s 2014 Outstanding Technology Leadership Award for the organization’s innovative use of online technologies to enable engineers from around the globe to positively impact local communities through collaborative problem solving methods.

An increasing number of nonprofits demonstrate their commitment to transparency and financial stewardship by listing not only their governance documents and leadership teams, but also by disclosing their annual reports and posting links to their IRS 990s. One caution: Do not (as one professional association did), post suggested fees for members to charge for their services. This is an anti-trust no-no!

We hope that as an outcome of featuring these award-winning websites, our members’ organization will see new opportunities for innovation, and for influencing and affecting constituents in rich and creative ways.

Congratulations to all the 2014 Website Excellence Award winners!

Outstanding Information Technology Award
Established in 2009, NYSAE’s Outstanding Information Technology Leadership Award recognizes the contributions of prominent individuals or organizations from the NY/NJ/CT Tri-State region, who have demonstrated excellence in the field of information technology. Recipients of the award will have been responsible for spearheading, building, educating, promoting or otherwise contributing to the benefits that information technology has to offer to humankind.

Previous recipients of this prestigious award include the American Red Cross, Computers for Youth and The American Foundation for the Blind.

This year’s award goes to Engineering for Change for its innovative use of online technologies to enable engineers from around the globe to positively impact local communities through collaborative problem solving methods.

Gina Ryan, CAE, is President of CEO Pathways/Creative Executive Options, a firm offering interim executive director services and transition management to newly formed or recently challenged associations. Ryan is a former member of the NYSAE Board of Directors and is the Vice Cchair of the Awards Committee. She can be reached at or 917-971-7524.