When one of Seminole County’s most worthwhile and sensitive charities needed a new website, local Web developers donated their time – and more than a little careful thought – to create a site that is as functional as it is discreet
When creating a website, pizzazz usually rules: pop-out design, bold colors, plenty of photos, and so on. But when the site deals with the delicate issues of child abuse and foster care, a different approach seems appropriate.
This was the challenge faced by ROAR! Internet Marketing. Eager to use their digital skills to give back to the community, the Altamonte-based team at ROAR decided to vote on a local charity to help. The overwhelming winner was Seminole County Friends of Abused Children, a small nonprofit organization that supports young victims of abuse and neglect. But given the delicate and often highly confidential nature of the group’s work, ROAR’s Web developers had to readjust their thinking caps.
“These are kids. You can’t do testimonials. You can’t photograph the children served,” says Matt Weber, president and CEO of ROAR. At the same time, Matt says, his company wanted to focus on the positive side of the charity’s purpose when designing the website. “We tried to make sure it wasn’t morose, all doom and gloom.”
Fortunately, there is plenty of positivity to be found among those who help Friends of Abused Children carry out its mission. A board of six volunteers with no office and no overhead finds ways to brighten the lives of children who have been removed from an abusive situation. Many of the kids are in foster homes, while others live with safe relatives, says Faith Shorthouse, FAC’s president. “We try to make their life as normal as possible in this situation.” she says.
While government agencies may provide basic needs for foster-care children, such as food and clothing, Friends of Abused Children fills in the gaps, Faith explains. That can mean, for example, paying for ballet lessons, art lessons, summer camps, and sporting activities. With the help of private donations and grants, FAC also provides more essential items, like luggage children can use when authorities must remove them from an abusive environment, sparing the young victims the indignity of packing their few belongings into garbage bags.
Friends of Abused Children, also based in Altamonte Springs, has quietly been doing its work for 26 years. Perhaps too quietly. With its primitive, do-it-yourself website, the organization was largely flying under the radar.
“It just hung out there on the internet,” Matt says. “When we went to do a search, we couldn’t find them. They were digitally invisible.” That made it hard for Friends of Abused Children to promote its cause or attract donors and volunteers. That’s where ROAR came in.
“It seems our staff has a soft spot for people who help kids,” Matt says.
The new website took about six months to build, with a team of seven ROAR employees working closely with members of the charity to ensure the new site was appropriate and conformed to the many legal complexities surrounding child abuse and foster care. The website was completed this summer, and ROAR employees remain in constant communication with the group to see how the new creation is serving them.
Matt likes to think the whole experience has helped the charity’s board members realize the need for marketing, even if privacy concerns present a fundraising challenge. “It’s hard to ask people for money when you don’t have a cute little face to show to them,” says FAC president, Faith.
But their new Web exposure should help Friends of Abused Children advertise what a marvelous job they do.
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