Wild Bird Care Centre crowned worst charity website in the country

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: CANADAS WORST CHARITY WEBSITE CONTEST

The Wild Bird Care Centre (WBCC) of Nepean, Ontario has been given the dubious honour of being crowned the worst charity website in the entire country.

With that title comes a pretty sweet prize: a website makeover worth $20,000, provided by London digital agency rtraction.

More than 80 charities from across Canada were nominated for rtraction's second annual Canada's Worst Charity Website contest. A team of judges from rtraction selected the top 12 websites and encouraged people to vote for the one that needed the most help.

This year, more than 40,000 votes were cast — a huge jump from last year, said Chad Alberico, rtraction's public relations intern. “Both our winner and our runner-up actually pretty much doubled the vote total of the winner from last year.” WBCC received a little more than 16,500 votes, and runner-up AIDS Committee of Guelph raked in just over 15,000 votes. Because both organizations worked so hard and received so many votes, both websites will be receiving a makeover from rtraction.

“I think (the amount of votes) can really be attributed to the creativity that both the Wild Bird Care Centre and the AIDS Committee put into their campaigns,” said Alberico.

Both charities made headlines in local newspapers; in addition, WBCC put forth a strong effort through social media and the AIDS Committee worked hard to engage voters in person at farmer's markets and at the University of Guelph campus. “It was just tremendous, the amount of work that they did. They were serious about it, but they were also having fun,” said Alberico.

The WBCC rehabilitates more than 2,000 injured and orphaned birds each year. Since opening its doors in 1981, the WBCC has released more than 100,000 birds back into the wild, said Deborah Hass, executive director of the WBCC.

WBCC is a registered charity and is run entirely on donations. Even with limited funds, they stay open 365 days a year, and have visiting hours nearly every day of the year. “We have no extra money! Everyone who's driven in our laneway knows we have the driveways from hell,” Hass said with a chuckle. “We didn't have a hope of being able to update our website at all.”

The WBCC site was originally designed 15 years ago, and the person who had been periodically updating the site is no longer available. “We can't make any modifications to it or changes or updates. We haven't been able to do that for more than four years. We desperately needed this,” said Hass.

Hass said she is hoping the new website will be better suited to offer everyday advice to its visitors. She's hoping the changes will help spread important information, including pictures and updated case studies, and make it easier for people to find out how they can help.

While only one prize was awarded during the CWCW contest's first run last year, the rtraction team was so impressed with the effort put forth by the AIDS Committee of Guelph that they awarded a second-place prize: a website makeover worth $15,000. “With the level of engagement that the AIDS Committee demonstrated and the amount of effort they put into it, we just felt that, as an organization, we had to reward them for all that hard work,” said Alberico. “We had to make that extra effort, because they certainly put so much of their heart and soul into the contest.”

“Having the second-place prize is tremendous,” said Megan DePutter, women's community development coordinator for the AIDS Committee. “Having a new website is really important to the prevention of HIV, as well as the support of individuals living with HIV/AIDS. This was also an opportunity for us to build a lot of awareness and get a lot of people engaged about this issue.”

The AIDS Committee launched a smartphone app in January, and DePutter said the team is hoping the new website will work hand-in-hand with the app. “We're hoping to have a website that uses responsive design so that people can access the information that they need on devices like smartphones and tablets.”

The rtraction team will create new websites for the WBCC and AIDS Committee where site visitors will easily be able to find information and make donations. “(Our team) will do something really awesome — I know everybody's really excited to get started on it,” said Alberico. The staff at rtraction will begin work on the WBCC site over the next few months, and work on the AIDS Committee site is slated to begin in 2014.

For more information or to check out some of Canada's worst websites, head to the CWCW page at worstcharitywebsite.ca.