Building a Website
Building a Website
If you run a small to medium-sized nonprofit organization,
you have most likely toyed with the idea of claiming a space on
the web – if you haven’t already done so.
While engaging a company that will set up the site from start to
finish is a feasible choice for some organizations, not every nonprofit
can afford this option. The many benefits of being online should
not be available only to those with ample resources. The following
is a quick guide to the process of building and optimizing a website
for a nonprofit of any size.
It is best to begin by breaking your project into workable pieces.
While this may involve more time on the front end, it will certainly
prove worthwhile to understand what each of the various components
will need. As I see it, the three main elements in the construction
of a site are choosing the domain, hosting the domain, and the design
of the site.
Choosing the domain name is the first step in constructing a website.
Imagine your domain as the property on which a home will be built.
In deciding on a domain name, think of the easiest way for people
to remember your site. If your organization is called St. Peter’s
Nursing Home for the Aged, use a name like stpetershome.org or stpetersnursing.org.
The last thing you want is for your domain to be too long and hard
to remember, like stpetersnursinghomefortheaged.org. Once you have
picked an appropriate domain, go to www.registrar.com or another
site that will sell you a domain name. The cost for simple registration
is usually around $12 - $20 per year. Be mindful that occasionally
a domain is already taken, so have a couple of alternates ready
in case your first choice is unavailable.
It is now time to find a host for your site. There are more sites
that provide hosting than ever before, and their prices keep falling.
Performance Hosting (www.performancehosting.net) and BlueHost (www.bluehost.com)
are two very reliable low-cost providers of shared server space.
For around $7 a month (billed one year upfront), you will be set
up with email addresses, multiple gigabytes of storage space, and
many of the tools you’ll need to build a truly successful
site. Adding on a “shopping cart” for around $200 per
year will enable your site to offer online giving in a rudimentary
way – from the processing of credit cards transactions to
the deposit into an account.
The final, and usually most expensive portion of the construction,
is the actual design of the site. Shopping around for low-cost web
designers can pay off. Depending on how much content you expect
to have, and what kind of design you have in mind, the cost can
range from $500 to $10,000 for a basic site; expect to spend $1,000
to $3,000 for a small yet professional website.
When you choose a designer, make sure you have all of the content
for the site on hand; the site designer should not be the author
of any copy on your site. The designer will work with the webhost
to put all of the files on the server space. Once the kinks are
worked out - expect some kinks - enjoy the launch of your website!
Of course, building a website is only the first step in creating
an online giving program. You can’t build your site and wait
for the visitors to come. But in claiming a space on the Web, and
building an online home for your nonprofit organization, you are
well on your way.
About the Author
Nathan Shaver is an
Associate Director of Changing Our World, Inc., a leading philanthropic
services firm helping nonprofits and philanthropists successfully
plan and implement effective strategies. You may contact the author