Your organization must have a web site. If anyone suggests that you
don't, that your organization can get by with just a Wordpress blog or
a Facebook page, run away from that person immediately. An individual
program may need an entire section on that web site or an entire web
site of its own. The core of an organization's or program's online
presence is still a Web site - it's what all of the organization's other
online activities point to.
The consequences of not having a web site? You make it hard, even
impossible, for people to be able to find official information about
your organization or program online: to find your address, your phone
number, a list of your events, how to donate, why to donate, what you
do, how to volunteer, and more.
Without a web site, your organization also gives the impression that
staff have difficulty managing basic communications activities - a
negative impression that you probably don't want potential donors,
potential volunteers, the media and others to have.
It's NOT cost-prohibitive to have a web site. If your organization
already has computers (even old computers),
you will not need to purchase additional software to have a basic
Who is in charge of your web site
A mistake many organizations have made in their Web site development
is handing over the entire Web development process, from content
creation to regular maintenance, to a consultant, or another company,
or to just one employee or volunteer. This leads to many, even
most staff, seeing the web site and other online activities as
something completely external to what they do - the volunteer manager,
the program director, the box office manager, etc., may not feel any
ownership of the organization's online activities, even though all of
those people are affected by what the organization does - or doesn't
do - online. Instead, everyone in your organization should have
continuous opportunities for input into Web site development and
maintenance - every staff member, paid or volunteer.
Everyone at your organization, particularly department heads and
managers of programs, should feel ownership of influence on some part
of the web site; the volunteer manager should have a section that is hers
(or his), the program director needs to feel ownership of the part of
the web site focused on clients and particular clients, etc. Encourage
your organization to integrate Web development and management into the
work of ALL employees, not only those who produce content for
publications and are involved with any communications or outreach
activities, but also your program director, volunteer manager, and
anyone who has anything to do with those your serve or the
public at large.
Everyone at your organization who works with the public or partners
in any way should also have input into all of your
organization's other online activities as well, like online
social networking, online discussion groups, etc... but those
recommendations are on another part of my web site.
Initial web site development
Your focus on your initial Web site development for your nonprofit,
NGO, government agency or department, school, or other mission-based
initiative should be to get a simple, easy-to-navigate site up
quickly, a site that provides the basic, essential information about
your organization (physical address, mailing address, contact
information, announcements about upcoming events, directions on how to
get there, etc.).
Once this basic site is up and regularly maintained, the web site can
be expanded and advanced features can be developed and implemented.
These tip sheets offer advice for the most basic "starter"
information for a first web site, and are focused specifically on
people who are NOT "techies." These tips are also meant to help those
who aren't directly involved in web site development to still feel
involved and in control of some or all of the process:
Also read: E-Commerce: The 8 Corners
- Information on and links to Web-Building
Tools & Tutorials
- Your computer probably already has all the tools you need
- Learning html
and advanced functions
- Development Timeline
An overview of the entire process, from idea to execution, in the
order to do them and with an estimate of how long each step should
- Web Site Construction & Content
Suggestions for Nonprofits, NGOs and small government offices
Identifying what should go on your organization's Web site. Even if
you are using a professional Web designer, this is a step in Web
site development YOU should control!
- Design Standards and Tips for Nonprofits,
NGOs and small government offices
Even if you are using a professional Web designer, this is important
advice for you to be in control of your Web development! Includes
tips for layout, graphics, browser compatibility, and access for
people with disabilities and people using hand held devices (smart
phones) to access your web site.
- Web Policies for Nonprofits, NGOs and
Small Government Offices
What will be the process of approving Web site material before it's
made public? When should you say "yes" to a "link exchange" -- and
when should you say "no"? Who should have access to change files on
your Web site? Who is going to answer e-mail from the Web site?
These and other questions are critical for you to answer before your
Web site goes public.
- Finding and Choosing a Web Site
Designer for Nonprofits, NGOs and small government offices
What should you look for in a Web site designer? Whether its a
volunteer or a paid-professional, here's some tips on how to find
and what to look for in such a person.
- Choosing A Web Site Host & URL
What should you look for in a Web site host? Should you go with a
"free" provider? Where can you find low-cost providers? What should
your Web site address be? This tip sheet can help you answer these
- Maintaining Your Nonprofit, NGO or small
government office Web Site
A Web site is a work-in-progress; here's how to manage that ongoing
process easily and cheaply.
- Marketing Your Nonprofit, NGO or small
government office Web Site
"If you build it, they will come" does not apply to Web marketing.
Marketing your Web site is as important as designing it -- how will
you get people to visit your marvelous information if they don't
know about it? Focuses on no-cost and low-cost methods.
- Monetizing a Web Site - Should
Nonprofits, NGOs or Government Agencies Ever Do It?
Many nonprofits and NGOs are tempted put ads on their web pages as a
way to generate much-needed revenue. But is it appropriate for a
nonprofit or NGO to put ads on a web page? This page explores the
issue and offers recommendations.
- Demise of a Terrific Web Site
While responding to changing situations and circumstances is
important, completely changing an organization's web site for the
sake of something "new," or because someone from the for-profit
sector tells you to, is not. Your mission and program content should
drive the mission and content of your web site. Always.
- When is a Web Upgrade Not Really
What a web developer may consider as an upgrade may actually be a
major obstacle that will impede the organization in serving its
constituencies. Making a web site more "cutting edge" from a
designer's point of view may not be easier, quicker or better from a
user's point of view or the point of view of the staff.
"Like the Kudzu in my Maryland yard, the more you try to bring sense to
the Internet hype, the denser it seems to get. The only thing growing
faster is the number of people who believe that the digital world
somehow overcomes and changes the fundamentals. P.T. Barnum was
intimately familiar with the breed and swore that one was born every
minute." A must read for anyone wanting to know what the Web can and
Also: old versions of your web site will be available at The
Internet Wayback Machine / archive.org. You will be able to
achieve at least one iteration of your web site from each year that it's
been available on this resource. This is very helpful in retrieving
information someone deletes off of the web site and didn't back up. It
also helps you create a record of your organization's history. Do NOT
let any web designer put coding into your pages so that they will NOT be
archived by this resource!
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