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If you work for a foundation, you know that the range of projects, programs, and portfolios supported by your organization is always evolving. New initiatives launch after careful consideration about how to reflect your institution’s shifting priorities or how to respond to emerging social issues. Yet, even if you have the clearest internal strategies, people outside your organization often see a disparate collection of focus areas spread across your website.

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If you're a mission-driven nonprofit or NGO, we can help you express your mission in a consistent, easy-to-understand way so you can gain your audiences’ support in driving the change you hope to see in the world.

So what? Afterall, foundations are established to make a positive impact on the world. Doing good is good. Right? That’s true, but the public is increasingly skeptical of—well, pretty much everything. Even initiatives with the most altruistic intent are now called into question.

In fact, the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer cites that, “Business becomes only trusted institution.” Imagine that, institutions that make money are more trusted than organizations, like yours, that give away money.

The same report cites that there is, “Increased urgency to address foundational problems.” While respondents see a critical need to tackle issues like the healthcare system and poverty, it’s still ‘Business’ that they trust the most.

If you work in foundation communications, a website redesign is a natural time to take stock of your organization’s broad work, to consider how that work relates to your overall mission, and to establish a cohesive narrative that builds trust through transparency and clearer intentions.

While a redesign will surface big questions, this isn’t a design, user experience, or technology challenge. This is a communications challenge that will require input and buy-in from the most senior leadership within your organization.

Here are three guideposts for connecting the projects, programs, and portfolios you can use as you pursue a website redesign for your foundation.

Taxonomy Can Only Do So Much

Taxonomy, the categorization of content within your website, is essential to powering search and providing pathways to content. It’s often assumed that taxonomy will connect diverse areas of content to provide a complete picture of an organization. However, taxonomy divides your content as much as it unites it.

Let’s consider ‘topics,’ a cornerstone of taxonomy. Topics can establish the diverse areas of work that your organization focuses on. They also tend to closely align with the projects, programs, and portfolios within your organization. Rather than bringing the work of diverse areas together, they reinforce a siloed structure without providing any context for why your foundation has chosen to focus on a specific set of topics.

Themes Cut Across Topics

While topics are inherently tied closely to discrete projects, programs, and portfolios, themes provide an opportunity to reinforce principles that drive all aspects of your foundation’s work. Your foundation’s brand pillars are a great starting point for developing cross-cutting themes that shape foundation-wide work into a cohesive narrative. They also provide you with an opportunity to surface the diversity of voices that work to support your organization.

Purpose Connects the Dots

Purpose is the ultimate ‘why’ of your work. A clear purpose statement can provide a grounding for the full breadth of work conducted by your foundation–connecting emerging initiatives to long-held beliefs. While taxonomy and themes are organizing principles, purpose is an aspiration that spans the broadest of portfolios.

If you’re considering a website redesign, stretch beyond the traditional approach of relying on taxonomy to describe your foundation’s work and engage your senior leadership to establish a central narrative that supports your organization’s diverse areas. The effort will build trust with audiences trying to make sense of what drives your work and encourage them to support you.

Looking for help with your website redesign or with developing themes to support your foundation’s work? Contact us. You can also learn more about our experience with mission-driven nonprofits and NGOs to see how we can help your organization with its next digital marketing project.


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