Non-profit organizations must carefully balance how much money they spend directly on their mission and how much on general operating expenses, including staffing. With donors carefully watching the non-profit’s general operating expenses, an effective website can lower operating costs and help shift more money toward carrying out the mission.
To this end, it is important for non-profits to think of a website as an investment rather, and not just an expense. Of course, there is a cost to launching and maintaining a website, but a well-planned website will further the organization’s mission objectives, help recover website-related expenses, and generate income.
A non-profit organization could get a website donated, but it would need to lower considerably its expectations of its effectiveness for the organization. A website is not a product, it’s a service. While many web development firms would be willing to donate a website as a product, very few would give away the many ongoing professional hours a non-profit will need for consulting, creating an effective web strategy, custom website production, and post-production management. A fully engaged web development firm can create a strategy to help generate profits, target the right audience for clients and volunteers, provide the right information for donors, shape the right message, and integrate the website with other marketing and fundraising efforts. More important, web developers can also show a non-profit how to change the way it conducts its business by using the same, powerful engine behind a database-driven website to run registrations, client records, payments, donor relations, and much more on the secured, non-public part of the website. This is where a non-profit could save tons in future operating costs.
Non-profits can apply for a grant funding, but website grants are not easy to obtain. Technological grants favor technological tangibles, such as computers, but not services. It is best to host a website-specific fundraiser or to fund through a private donor. A typical website that presents the organization on about 20 pages, offers event registrations, processes online payments, and provides the organization with tools for easy, in-house content management costs in the range of $3,000-$6,000. That price range should include knowledge sharing from the web development firm and a facilitation of the entire process of getting online the right way.