I recently helped Reconnect Fellowship, a small startup church in my local area, establish their online presence. In addition to sharing their success story, I would also like to share some tips in case you’re a church or other nonprofit reading this.
Before Powerful Digital Solutions Was Hired
Before I was brought on, the church pastor was overpaying for hosting with another provider. He was also paying for several unnecessary services (such as paying extra to make sure your website is responsive or displays well on mobile devices). If he would have stuck with the hosting provider’s website template, then he would have had to pay for some of these unnecessary extras.
In addition to all this, the pastor also owns a small business. Thus, his time is very valuable (as in the case of most other independent entrepreneurs).
NOTE: in case you don’t know what hosting is, you can view my other blog post here on common terms related to website creation.
After Powerful Digital Solutions Was Hired
After speaking with the pastor and getting to know his goals and vision, I got to work on establishing his online presence. I made the suggestion to create a WordPress website with the Divi theme for several reasons:
- he wouldn’t have to touch any code when making updates
- the Divi theme provides many templates and drag-and-drop features to work with
- WordPress websites with the Divi theme are already responsive (no need to pay extra to have your website display well on all mobile devices)
- it’s even possible to create mobile-only web pages with Divi (to where your website will display one way on desktop and another way on mobile)
I also did some research and discovered that some providers actually offer free and/or low cost hosting to nonprofit organizations – as long as they can prove their 501(c)(3) status. Out of all the providers I researched, I recommended DreamHost to be his hosting provider.
The pastor sent DreamHost all the official 501(c)(3) paperwork proving his non profit status. I then got to work creating the website. I made sure to set up the church’s:
- SSL certificate via Let’s Encrypt (giving that encrypted ‘https://’ connection)
- header & footer menus
- favicon (the icon that displays to the left of a web page title in a browser tab)
- event calendar
- prayer & praise wall system
- online giving via Aplos
- online newsletter via MailChimp
- all other website content
I also helped the Reconnect Fellowship pastor significantly reduce his monthly hosting costs so that he could better allocate his resources for other purposes.
Furthermore, the pastor was able to focus more on operating his church and small business while I worked away to get his church website just right.
Top 5 Tips for Nonprofits
If you’re a church or nonprofit yourself – and you don’t yet have an online presence – here are some great tips:
- if you can prove your 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, then you have the ability to get free or low cost website hosting (DreamHost is only one of many providers)
- watch out for any hosting providers that make you pay extra for a mobile responsive website
- even if you don’t plan on taking credit card payments/donations online, still set up an SSL certificate – you can get one free from Let’s Encrypt
- set up an online newsletter to stay in touch with your audience – MailChimp is a great free service for this (you only pay once you have more than 1,000 subscribers)
- don’t try to do everything yourself – involve other people in the website creation process and delegate tasks when need be
I really enjoyed working on the Reconnect Fellowship Church website, and I’m proud to include it in my portfolio. You can view the rest of my portfolio here.