If there is anyone who has their work cut out for them it’s the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) who is responsible for about a half-million people in New York City. But the organization is much more than just a housing group, NYCHA and the NYCHA board strive to also enrich its residents’ lives with educational and community programs, as well as employment opportunities and health services. They work hard to be informative and helpful to residents of any age, and offer programs to assist them in gaining valuable knowledge, skills, and confidence.
NYCHA and the NYCHA board are also working to become sustainable and eco-friendly, creating a Green NYCHA initiative to help make an effort to become more energy efficient. NYCHA’s mission seems to be more than just providing housing to New Yorkers; it’s providing them with life opportunities that no everyday landlord would provide, and there’s honor in that. They’ve really raised the bar for themselves, providing services for the good of their communities every day.
Every nonprofit organization should have a call to action. That is, they have a place where they tell people what they want them to do. It’s an objective to complete, and provides users with focus, a measurable goal, and direction.
To create an effective call to action, there must first be a groundwork set up. A specific must be identified and the organization must offer up a solution. There should be a benefit involved for those that choose to join with the organization. What will they get out of it? If an organization has the resources, it might offer small incentives, such as a bumper sticker or a button with donations.
Giving users options for a few distinct actions will also provide direction. It’s a good idea for organizations to provide some starting points to guide the user around the site or cause. Common actions might include donating money, becoming a member of the organization, or volunteering for an event.
Calls to action should use active, strong verbs that clearly communicate what the organization wants users to do. Examples include donate, purchase, volunteer, join, fight, or register. These words should create a sense of urgency—this is a problem that needs to be addressed now! To accomplish this further, calls to action often have deadlines for goals.
Website users should be able to see calls to action easily. It should be central on the page, not hidden at the bottom or off to the side. Utilizing “white space,” or blank space around the call to action can make it stand out more and keeps it from being lost in a busy page. Font size and color can also be used for emphasis.
Perhaps the most important part of a call to action is that it’s not just found on one page. It is on every page. For example, the Human Rights Campaign includes a basic banner at the top of every page on their website. The banner includes their logo, their mission (“Working for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights”), and buttons to become a member, receive a newsletter, and get involved via social media.
Another great example of an effective call to action can be found on the NYCHA PlanNYCHA website. It was created by NYCHA leadership, including the NYCHA board, in order to get a very specific message out to the public. The site is dedicated to the cause of helping to preserve public housing, and no where is that message more clear than in John Rhea, NYCHA’s CEO’s, message.
“Together we have accomplished so much to enhance our communities and support NYCHA’s families. Our progress is significant, but our work is ongoing. As we move forward we will need the unwavering and broad-based support of multiple stakeholders to ensure that the transformative vision outlined in Plan NYCHA is realized,” John Rhea writes. “Join us as we embark on this collaborative journey toward a stronger, more efficient and customer-focused New York City Housing Authority.”
A clear, detailed, and driven message provided as part of a collaborative framework. Other organizations could well take advantage of this example.
New York City has an incredible community of nonprofit organizations working to do good throughout the city. And though these organizations can create change and improve the community on their own, partnering with other organizations and professionals makes their successes greater, their dreams bigger. desigNYC is a group that works to do that, “a platform that connects civic-minded designers with extraordinary non-profits serving the public good.”
desigNYC was created in 2009 when a group of professional designers came together with the common goal of creating social change within the city. They asked themselves how they could use their skills and resources to provide solutions to local issues. Their ultimate plan was to use a “collaborative design process” to “build community and increase social capital.”
To achieve this goal, they created desigNYC. In 2010 they went from being a purely volunteer collective to being a “sustainable enterprise.” These days, desigNYC is more successful than ever, partnering with nonprofit organizations and other institutions, providing pro bonodesigns to improve the city, and strengthening the NYC community.
One of desigNYC’s farthest reaching projects partnered them with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), which houses over half a million people within the city’s five boroughs. On the desigNYC “About” page, a video explains the logic behind the project. The video features NYCHA board member Margarita Lopez, who worked closely with designers from the Rooster Design Group to create a sustainable living guide for NYCHA residents, “The Power is in Your Hands.”
NYCHA had previously created a sustainability guide, but had come to realize that it needed a newer, simpler design. desigNYC partnered NYCHA with The Rooster Design Group, and from there the two were able to create a powerful, appealing, and informative guide to distribute to NYCHA residents all over the city.
Through a multitude of projects like this, desigNYC is pushing the social change movement slowly but surely forward. After just three years, they are already a well known and successful nonprofit in the nation’s largest city. Imagine what a few more years will bring.