Brief(!) Outline of NPO/NGO WebPresence Strategy… Go For Shared Hosting.
I want to record and echo some of a recurring discussion I enjoy with various organizations – NPO/NGO’s sure, but also SMB’s.
I find that most often when “professionals” offer advice to small businesses – particularly NPO/NGO’s – the interests of the provider are weighed more than those of the agency needing help.
A main consideration that propels providers toward “Self Hosted” Web solutions is the presence and practice of “capturing and protecting” clients. As someone who wrote and worked extensively in the 2000’s in the Small & Medium Business world – I know first hand how we shaped advice for competitors in that marketplace for services. We took what we learned from Enterprises and repackaged it for SMB’s. Microsoft responded by designing and developing “self-hosted” servers for the market. I’m just saying, these notions are that deeply entrenched.
With all due respect, I hope to raise your awareness.
If your WebPresence will run on a non-profit “status” and volunteer-powered basis – the equation changes. The model is driven by factors outside the economic realm, primarily – we have to consider those who come after us. Designing for successors is critical.
- Economically it’s always the least-cost route (Thus questions we field from consultants like “what’s the budget?”)
- Operationally, we have to secure the environment from an ever-expanding enemy of hackers. Who’s going to care diligently and COMPETENTLY for this?
- Functionally, we have to always have the fastest response times. Go mobile or go home. We will not be having an “App” anytime soon (cost), so all of the workings must be HTML5. (Okay, that’s too much tech talk.)
- Availability – The system must never go down, and always be recoverable. Backups, who’s taking care of that?
- Sustainability, we have to incorporate a support methodology that will admit resources from any geography and multiple skill levels. Volunteers.
- Survivability – We must engineer ourselves out of a job. Always prepare for and groom successors.
- Currency – How are systems updates managed and by whom?
- Fluency – How do we change lipstick?
- Support – Resources, Documentation, Self-help and Access. 7X24X365. Responsive.
- Social –
- all of the cross-site plumbing must exist, be reliable and extensible.
- Freeware – “Off the Shelf” is the rule. No custom code, plugin’s, widgets or tweaks.
When all of these are addressed, WordPress.com bubbles to the top. The point is: in a self hosted environment – the “team” required to adequately address that list is unaffordable – in the first place! and un-obtainable in the “real-world” – no matter how “good” the supplier thinks they are.
Self-hosted is a laugh.
And then there is swag. NPO’s/NGO are funded by a range of income streams. Donations, sure. there are Vendors that specialize and streamline the accounting, reporting and tax documentation for donors. But selling goods – hat’s, shirts, books … should also be a consideration. WordPress.com has fully baked e-Commerce built in.
A word about getting a store going: It’s an easier “get” than you might imagine. Banking is the hurdle. You’ll need a checking account. That may require registration as an NPO.
Sometimes “parent” organizations will carve you out an account with their banker, and assume the revenue implications. What I want to mention in this vein is that this aspect should receive a fair amount of deliberation. Tying everything to a QuickBooks account? A good idea from the start