Often if you need something “extra” there is no “extra” money around to pay for it. This is especially true of community-based non-profit organizations, and I have been hanging around with several of them these past few months.
One of the areas of need is setting up a website and using it to collect information or receive money. From my perspective, making a potential donor go to the trouble of writing a check and mailing it is asking a lot. Asking a potential volunteer to send you an e-mail message, especially when you need to know specific things, is also problematic. Being able to do this with an on line form is so much smarter.
Google Sites has developed an easy-to-use platform for website design. You can incorporate things such as forms (through Google Docs) and you can collect money (using Google Checkout). Except for the discount on Google Checkout, this is all absolutely free!
Here are links to three websites that I personally set up over the past several months:
http://sites.google.com/site/fnavolunteers/ was used to register and manage about 100 volunteers for the fabulous celebration on New Year’s Eve in Alexandria. They have a real nice public site (www.firstnightalexandria.org), but needed special information for their volunteers. So we just linked to this from their main site.
http://www.washingtonbirthday.net/ This is the first site I ever worked on and it is still evolving. But now, thanks to the Google Sites platform, others can make changes and add content. We manage the parade from this site and several other major events. It isn’t necessarily pretty, but it is very functional.
You, too, can do this stuff; and you don’t have to go through a big learning curve or take a lot of time either. You can set up what you think looks good, get feedback from colleagues and friends, make corrections, and make your site something special. The FNA Volunteers site took three or four hours, the others took longer because of the content. Now you don’t have to be a slave to an IT person or a web designer (and if you have the resources, once you get a site the way you like, you can turn it over to someone else to “pretty it up”). C’est ça!