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Evaluating the web presence of voluntary sector organizations: an assessment of Canadian web sites

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 13:20 authored by Wendy Cukier, Catherine A. Middleton
In recent years, considerable attention in Canada has been focused on strengthening relationships between the voluntary sector, government and industry. Information technology is an important tool for the sector, but systems are often difficult and costly to purchase and maintain—particularly for small- and medium- sized groups. Unlike e-business and the private sector, little attention has been paid to how the Internet can be used in the voluntary sector. This article addresses three specific research questions: 1) How are national Canadian voluntary sector organizations using Web sites? 2) How well-designed are these Web sites in terms of usability and aesthetics and 3) How can Canadian voluntary organizations improve their Web sites to meet organizational objectives? Some 184 English language, national Canadian voluntary organizations' Web sites were rated, using a standardized tool to assess organizational objectives and to evaluate functionality, navigation and aesthetics. These sites currently offer limited functionality, and many are not well-designed. The article draws lessons from information technology theory and practice to demonstrate how the functionality and design of voluntary sector Web sites (in Canada and elsewhere) can be improved, to better support organizational objectives and to reduce the “digital divide” between the profit and nonprofit sectors.