Rescue Her Uses LightCMS to Shine a Light on the Dark Issue of Human Trafficking
For any nonprofit charity, providing an engaging and informative web presence is critical to significantly raising awareness of the cause it espouses and attracting the donations on which it depends to do its work. That’s certainly true for Rescue Her (www.rescueher.org), a charity in the Fort Worth Metroplex area in Texas, which aims to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking both in the US and around the world.
“We had a specific theme for our website – we didn’t want to be dark and scary. We wanted the white and the light and the turquoise,” said Rescue Her founder Josie Carignan. “We’re happy that the website we have now truly represents who we are. The heart of our organization is bringing light to a very dark issue.”
Carignan’s brother designed the first website for Rescue Her back in 2009 using Dreamweaver. The site’s primary focus was to draw attention to human trafficking through a mix of educational content and events and to raise funds through the sale of coffee. While it was a functional site, it was very basic. Updating the content to reflect a new event or a sale on merchandise was also difficult for Carignan and other volunteers given that the only person who could make changes to the website was living in Europe at the time. After 18 months, a friend recommended that Carignan contact Brad Parnell, the owner of web design agency Steadfast Creative, a LightCMS partner.
Steadfast designed and built Rescue Her a new website using the LightCMS platform. “LightCMS works great and is self-explanatory,” Carignan said. “Once you’ve learned how to use it you can quickly and easily make changes to the site. Even our volunteers and interns can update our site. This wasn’t possible before using our old platform.”
Since launching the new website on LightCMS, Rescue Her has been able to easily expand its educational and promotional content to bring awareness to the many fundraising campaigns and events it produces each year, such as 5K’s and fashion shows as well as provide real-time updates about the programs, outreach efforts and anti-trafficking projects they have started. The organization has also been able to easily add new products to its online store and can take advantage of the inventory tracking functionality that is part of the LightCMS platform.
The charity no longer operates out of Carignan’s living room as it first did when it launched in 2009. Since then, the organization has grown considerably, opening its own office space and growing donations from $10,000 in its first year of operation to close to $260,000 in 2013. Rescue Her also partners with a number of churches and individuals who all have access to web pages of information and videos highlighting the charity’s work and progress on specific projects, notably its safe home in Chennai, India (due to open in late October), which provides young female victims of human trafficking with a secure refuge, counselling and medical attention. Rescue Her has also incorporated in India and added staff there.
Looking ahead, Rescue Her plans to provide more information on its website about its Chennai safe house and offer donating partners the ability to sponsor the girls who have found refuge there.
Carignan is a big fan of the analytics capabilities provided by LightCMS indicating which part of the Rescue Her site visitors look at and how they got there. “I love that it’s so easy to see the statistics so we know what’s working and what’s not,” she said. “Those metrics don’t dictate but they can influence how we present something in our newsletters or on social media since we’ve been able to gauge the response on the website.”
So, what advice does Carignan have for other charity startups looking to set up and maintain their online presence? “The key is to find something you can update yourself, that’s easy to manage, and that makes sense to you,” she said. “For me, LightCMS does all of those things.”