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Much More than a New Website

By Emily Patrick | December 6, 2021

Team Consulting with America Needs You and Fidelity Investments

This is the final installment in a series of blog posts tracking a long-term skills-based volunteering project with America Needs You and Fidelity Investments to upgrade the nonprofit’s website. Catch up on the project progress by reading the first and second posts in the series.

The Final Product

At the end of their four-month team consulting project, the team of Fidelity Investments skills-based volunteers and their partners at America Needs You (ANY) presented their work to key stakeholders from both organizations, including managers and leadership. They delivered a fully revamped, tested, and mobile-friendly site with updated navigation to reflect the new persona-based structure that carved different paths for students, campus partners, and employers.

Over the course of the refresh, Fidelity volunteers updated or created nearly 100 news, event, and content pages; removed outdated ones; and built profiles for all staff and board members nationwide. ANY’s new site has advanced features like “mega menu” navigation and page filtering for users to more easily access relevant materials and embedded social media feeds and sharing buttons to increase opportunities to share ANY’s services, resources, and events. It also leverages WordPress plugins for easier self-administration, SEO best practices, and high-quality, editable images. Essential for the ANY web team’s continued success, the Fidelity volunteers created a custom 66-page WordPress user guide so current and future administrators would have a centralized knowledge hub for edits and maintenance.

Before: ANY’s original website posed challenges with navigability and outdated content and was difficult for the team to update on their own.
After: The new site is more engaging, interactive, and easier for ANY’s different audiences to navigate.

A Two-Way Transformation

For the Fidelity skills-based volunteers, the collaboration went far beyond updating a website – it was a catalyst for significant professional and personal growth as well. In a post-project survey, 100% of respondents said the experience was a useful professional development opportunity that enhanced skills directly applicable to their work, including project management, client relations, and presenting. “This project greatly improved my leadership ability and provided my colleagues and leaders with new insight into my leadership skills,” one volunteer shared. The Fidelity colleagues had not worked together prior to the ANY engagement, but all reported that they plan to maintain their new relationships, which they expect will help them solve future business challenges. Director of Product Management and volunteer team lead Rachel Duprey said of the experience: “We were using a platform [WordPress] that we had never used before and had to self-teach each other. It was a great team to work with, not only on our side, but on ANY’s too.” Laura Petrone, also a Director of Management, expressed how proud she was of their small but mighty team for producing such a large volume of work in a short amount of time.

This project greatly improved my leadership ability and provided my colleagues and leaders with new insight into my leadership skills.

The project held special meaning for Senior Database Engineer Tony Ferreira who shared that, as a first-generation American himself, ANY’s mission resonated with him and he was grateful to see the nonprofit support students from backgrounds similar to his own. “I thought this was a great opportunity to give back and to give resources,” he said. “My passion behind the effort, identifying with who I am, and seeing it come together to create a beautiful website – I’m so passionate about it and I was happy to see it through.” His colleagues shared his sentiment, all reporting that they felt more deeply connected to Fidelity’s commitment to supporting under-resourced communities and more inclined to recommend their company as an excellent place to work because of the skills-based volunteering project. “This was a great way to contribute beyond just monetary means,” one remarked. “It’s nice to see Fidelity support these communities and I think these activities can lead to great outcomes for our country.”

A Brighter Future for ANY and First-Generation College Students

Thanks to the power of pro bono, ANY now has a first-class website that is already enabling them to better connect with their students, constituents, and supporters. “This project outcome allows us to proudly showcase our website, which is a direct extension of our work. It has been so impactful to make updates in a simple and clean way,” Chief External Affairs Officer Emily Ashton shared. The ANY team reported that working with the Fidelity volunteers “greatly improved” their skills, which not only benefits the UX and appearance of their website, it gives them the capacity to focus their time and energies on what they do best: creating opportunities for students to thrive in their studies and careers. “It was a great team bringing a lot of knowledge. Anything they didn’t know, they were willing to learn,” Emily told the group of Fidelity and ANY stakeholders at the deliverable presentation. “It gave us a lot of hope for managing this in-house. We now know how to do the updates in real-time, and that’s invaluable for us.”

ANY Development Coordinator Mitch Mitchell noted it was the months of close contact between his team and the Fidelity volunteers that led to such strong outcomes for all parties. “The collaboration was excellent and I think that’s what made this project so successful.” Emily concurred: “The team was a pleasure to work with and the fact that they did this on a volunteer basis is tremendous. There aren’t enough words to share our gratitude.”

Reach out for more on how Common Impact’s skilled volunteering models and services – including team consulting projects like this – can align your employees’ skills with the needs of social impact organizations!