Creating a digital presence for your community organisation or not-for-profit is more important (and more achievable) than ever before.
And it makes sense.
The easier you make it for visitors to understand your mission, your impact, and how they can help, the more traction your organisation will get.
In 2020, anyone can get online for free with social media, website platforms and a Google account. These tools will give you a level of online visibility, which is smart.
But if your cause truly resonates with people, you’ve probably managed to convince other fabulous humans to support your organisation. Some will support you with money. Some will donate their time. And some will volunteer their skills and knowledge.
So how do you manage a volunteer who offers to manage your website, hosting or emails?
Over the years, we’ve learned a few things working with volunteer organisations and the kind souls who offer in-kind support. Asking these questions BEFORE you start will allow you to set up your digital presence for long-term success and sanity, and help you navigate some of the complexities of working with volunteers.
There are 3 questions you need to ask
When things change- as they inevitably do in a voluntary organisation- you need to know who has ownership and control of your digital and communication assets.
Being aware and setting these set up correctly in the first place will avoid stress, resentment, down time, lost emails and confusion down the track.
Who is our domain registered through?
Your domain is your url. For example: ourorganisation.com.au
It’s the web address people will type into Google to find your organisation and the place your website will sit.
Each year, domain name registration needs to be renewed and there’s a small cost to this, from $15/ year or so. If the name isn’t renewed, you can lose access to your website and emails.
When it was registered, the domain name will have asked for a Registrant Contact. This person will receive emails about renewing the domain each year. Make sure the emails are going to someone who will stay connected to the organisation- or will pass on ownership if they decide to discontinue their involvement.
The Registrant Contact for a business is the business owner and the holder of the ABN. If your organisation has an ABN, the Registrant Contact is likely to be the name listed on your ABN. This may be the President or another leader within the organisation.
Lots of companies offer domain registration. They include: NetRegistry, Crazy Domains, GoDaddy. We use and recommend Australian-based VentraIP.
Who hosts our website?
It’s important to know who hosts your website so that if something goes wrong, you know who to ask for help.
Think of your web hosting as the rent you pay on your slice of the internet for the ability to have your website live.
Web hosting may be an annual fee or a monthly fee. It can be small or large, depending on your organisation’s needs. If your web hosting isn’t paid and up to date, your website won’t be live and visible to prospective supporters.
There are lots of companies that offer web hosting in Australia. Common ones include GoDaddy, NetRegistry, Crazy Domains. We use and recommend Australian-based VentraIP.
Who hosts our email?
Email communication is crucial to your organisation. Knowing how and who hosts your email means that you can move forward with confidence as your organisation grows.
No-one wants the stress of lost emails and trying to find random back-ups to piece together the last five years of data.
Sometimes emails are hosted through a free platform like Gmail or Hotmail and are not connected to your domain name or web hosting at all. It’s not really a good look for an organisation, but it does make it easy to transfer.
Other times emails are connected to your web hosting. (If you’ve heard of cPanel, this is where they live). If this is the case, it’s important to know who has access to this data if you ever decide to build a new website and transfer your domain and hosting to a new provider.
A good web developer will make sure you have secure access to your emails before migrating your domain to a new provider.
Building a new website?
ASK the web developer how this will impact your mail. They should be able to investigate, give you clear information and provide you with a solution that works.
And PLEASE talk to the volunteer who has provided these services to you and let them know that you’re going to market to find a web developer. Give them a heads up and invite them to be part of the project. And show your appreciation for everything they’ve done.
ONE LAST TOP TIP
Microsoft 365 have some terrific FREE email options for not-for-profit organisations that are eligible and meet the criteria. This can be an excellent resource to tap into when organisational budgets are tight. Ask your web developer or IT guy to check them out.
And in case you haven’t already noticed? There’s a limit to what you can achieve for free. Sometimes, you need to invest money into the future and the growth of your charity, cause or organisation.
We work with a number of not-for-profit organisations and each year we set aside time to work on projects for groups that are doing great work. Get in touch if you want to get some feedback on your plans or to find out how we choose our next project.