Customer Success Stories
St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Hastings, Minnesota has served the community since 1881. The church has maintained a website since 2004. The initial website proved to be too time-consuming and demanding to update for the volunteers, so the Church decided to switch to a WebsiteWorks website in July 2007. Now able to focus on getting their mission across quickly and effectively to their community, St Luke's hasn't looked back since.
Before the St. Luke's Episcopal Church Website:
Prior to St Luke's web presence, the Church advertised its services through the local newspaper and phone book. Communication to the different congregation groups such as youth group, prayer group and the women's guild, was organized using a monthly printed newsletter, weekly bulletin, and phone trees.
Most community members heard about the church from the local newspaper, phone book or by word of mouth. For the most part, the church was successful, but the ministry team knew they could communicate their message better.
After the launch:
The purpose or investing in a website for St. Luke's was to communicate better with the congregation, but also within the ministry about the church's history and mission. Lyn VanDeSteeg, who is part of the ministry team, says the first website they used was a mistake. It required knowledge of HTML to make updates to the site and therefore was restrictive to the many volunteers within the church. "In a Church environment, especially one that uses volunteers for much of the work, any work that can be shared should be". This was difficult with a website that had a technology barrier.
Lyn adds "Using WebsiteWorks allows our volunteers to concentrate on the message instead of the technology. This means the youth leader updates the youth page; another person the Sunday Services page; still another handles the remaining pages and the overall site technology knowledge. The work is shared and our site is updated at least weekly, which in itself contributes to the success of any website".
In particular, dissemination of information to the Youth Group was a significant benefit of the new website. "Having youth information and parent permission forms online saves a lot of email, phone time, and personal visits for our youth leaders as well as for the parents of youth members", commented Lyn.
In terms of gaining new member of the congregation, St. Luke's has worked to ensure the use of strategic keywords on the website to allow people to find them through the major search engines. Lyn is pleased, "A few visitors from out of town and some new members of the congregation have said that they found us via our website. A key statistic for us is that 4 of the 5 weddings currently scheduled in our church are couples who contacted us via the website".
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Bill Doll and Roy Cowan went to high school together in Brevard, NC. Although no longer living in the same state, both had developed a passion for hiking over the years and when they reunited at their 45th high school reunion, they decided to form a joint hiking group. It was formed from 2 regional hiking groups, one from the West coast (San Diego area) and the other from the East coast (Brevard, NC area). It took two years to organize the first combined hiking trip to the Grand Canyon, but it was such a success, that the next year another hiking trip was planned for the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. It was clear after these two successful hikes, that a website was quickly becoming necessary to both inform members of upcoming trips but to also exchange trail photos, movies and anecdotes. TrailDogs now plans regional weekly hikes and an annual hiking trip through the website.
Before the Studio Zen Website:
Bill and Roy communicated with the group’s hikers by email and by telephone. Their objective for the hiking group was never to grow it beyond the original members, but rather to organize and communicate with hikers. "The two hiking groups each had their own hiking "organization" prior to the website, both were informal with respect to what they did, when they did it, and with whom" said Bill Doll. The need for the TrailDogs website arose in order to organize the two groups better. "We needed to communicate more efficiently in planning hikes and to enhance the quality of both our weekly and annual hikes".
After the launch:
The TrailDogs website was launched in late 2007. "I had the pleasant experience of helping my classmates build our 50th Reunion website using MyEvent.com (summithighschool1957.com)" recalled Bill Doll. “It was so successful in every respect, that it became the driver to build a hiking website that promoted the hiking interests of the TrailDogs". The site was created for two primary purposes: to exchange hiking information and hiking photos between the two regional hiking groups and to plan the annual TrailDogs hiking event. Bill adds "our website is purely "social" and has no underlying economic theme at all, which is somewhat "out of character" for our group, but probably is the single reason we have had so much fun with it".
The website has changed the way Bill and Roy organize their hikes. They enjoy a lot less time on the phone, emailing and less ad hoc planning. Both have realized the benefits of having a multimedia platform to exchange information, upload topographic maps of trails and to share movies and photos depicting hiking fun.
Bill reports that the website gets a lot of playful feedback "Everyone loves the site, both members and nonmembers. The feedback has been very positive but mostly informal, like "ya'll did a heckuva job on the web site" ... "it's got lots of giddyup"... "good to see that the ole racehorse can still run"."
Just this past year, Bill noticed an unplanned evolution of the annual hiking trip. "We just completed our annual event in the Lake Tahoe Sierras and for the first time, this event took on a vacation challenge as well as the usual "hiking" challenge. Some non-members wanted to join the hikers in Lake Tahoe, but did not want to hike. The trip was a great success and Bill noted "the future annual TrailDogs events will likely follow this theme, which suggests that we are already experiencing some evolution of the TraiDogs from a pure "hiking" organization to a "hiking/social" group. If true, it will have its roots of transform traceable to the creation of the TrailDogs website..."
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Susie Barnes is the Executive Director of Glory House, a non-profit organization serving the Tulsa, Oklahoma community for over 20 years. Glory House focuses on hope, healing, and direction for women and was recently awarded The Independent Charities Seal of Excellence award. Susie was seeking a way to reach women in need about the programs and services offered by Glory House, as well as providing the community at large with information about the work that takes place there. She decided to purchase a website to better deliver her message and favored a WebsiteWorks website because it was easy to use, professional, affordable, and had great customer service.
Before the Glory House Website:
Prior to the website, women in need heard about Glory House primarily through their church, the court system, radio and newspaper advertisements, or friends and family. Glory House communicated with its members mostly by newsletter, direct mailings and meetings. Glory House had a website previous to their WebsiteWorks website, but it was not working well for them because it was difficult to manage and update. Communicating the "mission" of Glory House and connecting with as many women in need as possible is a critical element to making Glory House work, and that required a website that could easily be updated.
After the launch:
The website has changed Glory House forever. "It provides Glory House with a professional looking site that enables us to communicate our program to a wider audience," said Susan. She continues, "It is also a way for sponsors and people to donate time, talent, and money to Glory House online and to stay up-to-date with current events and personal success stories."
Traffic to the website is steady with people coming from all over the US. Randi Bennett, who helped create the website, finds that visitors are especially using the Contact page, About us, Success Stories and the Pity To Power pages. Randi herself wouldn’t know what to do without the website. She explains, "I love all the features! WebsiteWorks is so easy to use! I have designed 6 different websites for various organizations and businesses using it, and the feedback on each one has been incredible."
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The Dewitt County Riding Club started in 1957 and is based in Lane, Illinois. The goal of the club is to promote a sense of community through horse shows and fundraisers. Faced with dwindling membership after 51 years in operation, Lawrence Vinson, one of the members, decided to create a website using WebsiteWorks.com. Once live, the site became a beacon for horse people in Lane and has directly had an impact on increasing membership by 20%. Lawrence further heralds the site as having expanded membership to include people from over 40 miles away.
Before the Dewitt County Riding Club Website:
Prior to a web presence, the club advertised using flyers and local newspapers. Communication with members and solicitation of new members was accomplished primarily using printed newsletters and phone calls. People generally discovered the riding club through word of mouth and flyers. Lawrence recalls, "Membership had stayed the same for years (around twenty members) and then we started to decrease in membership because we were not growing". Lawrence and the other members decided to purchase a DIY website to help grow membership. "We needed to let horse people know we were out there and that we were a place to come and have fun".
After the launch:
The first thing Lawrence noticed after the site went up was the reduction of phone calls and time spent on the phone coordinating events. Now, people only call if someone needs something urgently. Information and schedules are duly posted on the website and Lawrence makes good use of the newsletter feature that comes with the site. Members can sign-up for the newsletter on the website and receive news of upcoming events in their Inbox. The club also links with regional websites to generate interest amongst the local population and gain new members. Lawrence mentions, "The site is so easy to work with when adding photos and making changes". He is happy with the end result, "We have increased membership by 20% this past year, and we are up to 45 members and growing. An added bonus is more and more people are riding in the shows. We just had a couple attend an event with their grandson from over 40 miles away and they became members."
The site has also contributed to increasing donations to charity events. Lawrence elaborates, "We had three MS fundraisers within the last three years, and we successfully used the website to help promote them. He continues, "When I talk to a company about sponsoring us, I tell them to check out our site first for all the information they need, and then I mention many locals visit the site, and that we link to the sponsors website if they donate a $100 or more". Sounds like a great sponsorship strategy for a good cause. Here's to another 51 years of the Dewitt Country Riding Club.
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