hand drawn wireframes on white surface, pens off to one side and corner of laptop in frame

zero budget website, intro to options

A client recently asked me for advice about a problem a nonprofit organization she volunteered with needed to solve. The free platform they had used to host their website for the past decade was being shut down. They didn’t have any budget; did they have any options? Would they need to register a domain name and pay for web hosting? Was there anything free that could create a similar site? How would they find the right person?

Budget

I asked for confirmation if the budget was definitely a hard zero. Would it be possible to have a special donor appeal and thank sponsors with a special page? Did the free platform offer funding to help them transition their website? Were there any local grants available?

As they worked on those budget calculations, I reminded her that ongoing costs need to be considered and those will depend on the choices they make today.

Domain name

I think it’s a good idea for organizations to register a domain name; these require a financial commitment of about $10-15 a year. This name  can then be forwarded anywhere the org needs. This helps create consistency for the organization even if the content platform changes.

Web hosting and Free Options

This comes down to the budget. A few years ago I wrote about transitioning your site to its own host. There are good low cost webhost options and many offer discounts for the first year.

Yes, there are free options for website building and hosting. The trade-offs depend on the needs of the organization and for many this can be the best interim solution depending on timeline and immediately available budget.

While there is some additional work involved, for most groups I recommend a webhost as it allows greater control over both content and style.

Design and Development

Yes, I could do this work and have for many non-profit organizations in the past. Currently I am focusing the on the needs of solo business owners and have stepped back from direct involvement in this sort of project.

How does an organization find the right person? I recommend talking with both local nonprofits and groups who are in a similar nonprofit area. Look at their websites and contact them asking: Who made it? What worked and didn’t? Check references and when you get to that stage, require a written agreement.

Conclusion

Every organization (and business) is different. The solution for each will be unique, though the questions each should ask as they find the answer are similar.