How to get your NGO online…

Disclaimer: Not a real post for now, but I’ll post it anyways…just a lose collection of thoughts (so that I don’t have to keep on repeating myself on this topic).

Obed, my colleague from Zambia, founded an NGO some years ago. Today he told me that his NGO actually requires a website.

At this point, most people will just hire someone who takes care of this and prolly lose some US$ down the road. Also, once the website is up and running, it doesn’t really imply that things are perfect. What he’ll then need is someone who does the site maintenance (admin) and who prepares all online content (content editor).

In order to get your NGO online, you will need:

a) a domain name
The shorter, the better; maybe best .org for an NGO; domain names are relatively cheap; if you have a CreditCard (!) or a PayPal account payments may be easier & cheaper (this CC thing really IS an issue!)

b) webhosting
1GB webspace, 1MySQL database, 1 FTP account, etc. = simple packages will do for most requirements; webhosting often includes one *free* .com domain name; there are some free webhosting sites that do / do not display advertisment (which you may not be able to control); user/server ratio often isn’t visible (= how many users/domain packages actually share one server? = perfomance index), service hotline?; backup = you are responsible for your own backups, especially with cheap webhosting packages; depending on your financial situation, you can manage to obtain all of this for *free* or pay a monthly fee. There are hundreds of providers/resellers out there + websites that give an overview of what customers are reporting on the actual quality of the provided service.

c) the right *software*
WordPress :-)
WordPress.org if you want to install a WordPress blog on your server and customize it, or WordPress.com if those standard templates on WordPress.com are ok with you. WordPress, a blog “software”, instead of an advanced Content Management System (CMS) because it will be easier to manage & often just does the job. WordPress.org comes with a HUGE community and many free templates that can be further modified.
Any other blog software will certainly also do, however, it just helps to illustrate the fact that this publishing platform is sufficient for most websites (see d)).

d) an idea of what to put online
Most crucial point. Who will be in charge of the online content? What do you want to put online? How many static pages? What kind of pictures? The person in charge of online content will probably also need to rescale pictures and trim them for online usage (lower dpi resolution), no need for 2-3 MB pictures that directly come from a digital camera. Apply a licence to your works (=> CreativeCommons) so that ppl will know how do deal with your (!) online content. Create a document and define what you want to publish online and how you want to interlink it – in short, create a concept. This will help everyone involved to see what the target is.

etc.

Bottom-line: getting YOUR page and YOUR mission online isn’t a matter of experts anymore. What you will need to figure out is how much money you want to spend on this, how the site should appear (layout) and who will be in charge.

I am mentioning all these *basic* facts (to most readers – I assume that most of you are running your own blog?) because it’s just SOOOOO often that you see a brother from somewhere who’s doing a wonderful job within his organisation, but is totally overwhelmed by the (relatively simple) job of creating a decent website that draws a clean line between horrible MS-Frontpage or MS-Office documents (converted into HTML/XML) and a smooth little website based on a sweet WordPress *simple-CMS* package.

Also, you’re not alone on this. Pls feel free to visit Kabissa.org to connect with others and discuss on how to promote your works online.

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