Your nonprofit organization needs to have a website. Period. It need not be flashy, overly colorful or even all that pretty-it just has to do its job. Your organization's website should provide doormats for the major types of visitors, have relevant and timely information, and provide interested parties with your contact information.
But, where do you even start? After determining your budget, follow these five steps to create your new website:
Register a domain name (at least one). Think about other websites you've visited, and other organizations you've searched for. The web address is straight-forward and relevant to the organization's name and brand. People can't visit your website if you don't have a registered domain. You can get one free for a year through [url removed, login to view], or begin an inexpensive contract with godaddy.com. If your budget allows, you may consider purchasing more than one domain that all lead to your main webpage. For example, choose a common misspelling, reversal of words in your web address, etc.
Develop the initial content for your website. What message or information do people visiting your site need to know? What are the goals of your website? Consider how you will incorporate your call-to-action (contact us, sign up for our listserv, make a donation, sign a petition), and who will be looking at your website. You may have an extremely varied audience-just make sure you're providing information for each other: donation opportunities, background information and compelling storytelling of why people should care. Take into account the eight things your homepage must have.
Determine if a free or really inexpensive option will work for you. Take some time to evaluate sites like [url removed, login to view] and Grassroots.org. The former allows your to create your own branded social network (complete with online donation capabilities), and the latter has a free web-design/hosting service if you get on their list.
Decide who will build your website (if step #3 doesn't satisfy your organization's needs, timing and/or format). There are a number of ways to create the page itself: outsourcing the work, creating a page in-house or finding an appropriate application provider (ASP). Read more about each of these options here.
Allow your website to accept online donations. With all this "doormat" talk, it's important to keep in mind that many donors will turn to your website for a quick way to get funds from their wallets to your organization. Network for Good offers an affordable, easy to use online fundraising solution, DonateNow.
Once you have your website up and running, keep in mind that it's an evolving tool and hub of information. Take some time to pat yourself on the back for getting it launched and donor-friendly/ready, but don't forget to evaluate and re-evaluate how you can keep your site fresh and relevant.
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