Posted tagged ‘Web site development’

Resources for Nonprofits’ Web Sites

June 4, 2008

This post is my summary of TACS’¬†Ash Shepherd’s stellar presentation titled “Beyond the Online Brochure: Tips, Tricks & Best Practices for Using Your Website & E-marketing,” which I saw at the Nonprofit Nirvana 2008 conference presented by the Greater Oregon PRSA Chapter and the Willamette Valley AMA Chapter in Eugene, Ore., on May 15. TACS is a Portland nonprofit with a mission to help other nonprofits through technology consulting. I’m going to highlight the Web site aspect only, as it relates closer to public relations.

He argues that most nonprofits shouldn’t need to pay more than six to twenty dollars a month for Web hosting. Some good resources for Web hosting are DreamHost, Siteground and ICDSoft. You can read about DreamHost Nonprofit Hosting here.

He also suggests that nonprofits, especially small ones, use content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress to build and maintain their Web sites. These greatly improve efficiency because they don’t require HTML or other Web design knowledge. CMS are slightly harder to use than Microsoft Word. CMS options Ash suggested are Joomla, Drupal, and Plone, which are free; Expression Engine, which uses a subscription model; and Synergy Platform, which you need to purchase.

Note the difference between a CMS and Web host: CMS is the software you use to build and maintain your site, whereas your Web host enables others to see it. You can compare your Web host to your cell phone provider, for example, AT&T; and your software like your specific cell phone, for example, BlackBerry Curve.

You should also build Web statistics into your site because measurement is what public relations and marketing is all about, right? Through my Bateman Case Study Competition team’s use of Google Analytics, we could pinpoint the exact cities users accessed our site from, how long they spent, which pages they visited, and so on. Other Web statistics sources that Ash recommended were WebTrends, Woopra and Going Up.

All 501(c)(3) nonprofits can accept donations through their Web sites. The presentation audience seemed to prefer using Network for Good, a third-party site where about three-fourths of donors opt to pay transaction fees. Ash also recommends Oregon Involved and GuideStar.

The extra up-front work to start an effective Web site is worth it. “Having an effective website today requires a steady, ongoing commitment,” wrote Russ Jackman with Internet Advisor. “The cost to move beyond the ‘online brochure’ that is commonplace…is not as big a leap as it was even two years ago.”

For more Web resources, check out Fundraising123.