Great post over on the eggheady but endlessly fascinating Stanford Social Innnovation Review blog, making the point — again — that most non-profit websites are dull and do a poor job of engaging visitors:

That is the state of most nonprofit websites–most engage users on only a superficial level. They rely on an information dump that ignores what the user wants to do and learn. A big “Donate” button on your homepage does not address the question of how to get that user motivated.

The issue, we all know, is not that all we want is money — it’s that we’re control freaks. Authentic engagement requires listening, and also requires a willingness to change based on what you hear.  Websites are just another expression of this control freaky approach to communications.

All the new Web 2.0 stuff is rooted in a value on authenticity that I strongly believe permeates both Generations X and Y and is going to slowly but surely transform everything.

Consider this Arianna Huffington indictment of Hilary Clinton from a recent issue of The New York Press:

Hillary’s problem isn’t that she’s too moderate—it’s that she’s too inauthentic…
You can smell the fear on her. It wafts around her like a cheap perfume: Eau de Don’t Let Me Screw Up and Flush My Chances Down the Toilette. As a result of her fear of losing and the soul-sapping tyranny of trying to please and placate everybody, she’s become more processed than Velveeta.

What communications or development director has not had an article or speech or email destroyed by the bureaucratic mush mill, yielding in the end inoffensive but often lethally dull prose? You know why? Because most organizations would rather be dull than risk being controversial.

The result of course is websites made of Velveeta. Generations X and Y don’t do Velveeta.