For many of us, the mere thought of creating and maintaining a website causes stress and anxiety due to a lack of knowledge about the technology or a fear of causing irreversible damage. If we can overcome those fears, a well-functioning website can provide a place for you to disseminate information to members, take event registrations or collect membership dues.
“I know it is overwhelming to think about launching and managing your own website. For many people this is something that has always been left to an IT department or the obligatory ‘someone else’,” Mandy Moody, CFE, ACFE Social Media Specialist, said. “But, I strongly encourage chapter members new to using tools to manage a website or, even using social media, to dive in head first. Much of this corresponds to the adage, ‘it is what you make it’.”
The ACFE has several options to assist chapters with the initial design of their websites. If you or the person creating your site has knowledge of HTML, we can provide the files used to create a site that meets ACFE brand standards. If you don’t even know what HTML means (like me) and need a more user-friendly option, we have a process to help chapters set up their site on Wordpress.com. You can find more information about both of these options at www.ACFE.com/ChapterBranding.
More important than the initial setup is the time and commitment needed to keep the website up-to-date and a valuable resource for your members. The ACFE can help you get started by providing the initial design resources above, but keep in mind that ongoing technical support and updates are the chapter’s responsibility.
“Your website and your social media presence are like any other projects you take on to enhance your chapter: they are only as strong as the amount of work you put into them. If it still feels too uncomfortable or foreign, I recommend hiring interns or local college students to show you the ropes or even manage the sites once they are set up. The younger generation can work quickly and efficiently while gaining valuable experience from your chapter in return,” Moody said.
Moody recommends the following best practices for making your site a relevant resource for your members:
- Make sure your event calendar is up-to-date. Remove old events after they have passed and update your calendar at least once a month.
- Include as many photos as possible on your site, especially photos of chapter members.
- Remove or update any “dead” links on your site. At least once a month, click on all your links to make sure they are still working.
- Include links to your social media outlets, links to sites with fraud-related resources and links to other chapters.
Hopefully, this information relieves some of the stress caused by thinking about how to create and operate a website, so that you can have a discussion to determine if creating one is a good idea for your chapter at this time.