The non-profit field is a very diverse one, and more so than other companies you may have a budget to stick to. In addition to potentially having less revenue than for-profit companies (of course that isn’t always the case), your funds are stringently earmarked for certain uses. Just because you have $100,000 to spend doesn’t mean you can spend it as you like—even if you’re a board member, founder or the executive director. Choosing the right web host for a non-profit requires a slightly different approach than any other type of business.
However, there are also many similarities. You can use the same parameters to see if you’re ready to switch from shared hosting to a dedicated server, which is at least 3,000 visitors to your site per day. However, few non-profits achieve the kind of high traffic that requires a dedicated server. Instead, you’ll likely be looking at options for shared hosting.
Here’s your cheat sheet to get started.
What non-profits need from a web host
Non-profits need the exact same thing as other websites, but for different reasons. Minimal downtime, fast page loading and great customer service is the trifecta of a fantastic web host. However, when considering downtime and page load time, non-profit serve very unique communities. If the population you serve regularly checks out your website for classes, workshops, seminars and to schedule appointments, you need to prioritize serving them.
Every website is going to cater to a different market. For instance, a website that blogs about the latest smartphones and reviews is probably talking to an audience of techies. A non-profit, on the other hand, might be catering to cancer survivors, immigrants, EFL speakers or any other unique demographic. Consider how your audience will be accessing your site, perhaps with a survey on devices used, and make sure your web host caters to those approaches.
A non-profit that’s received funding has every dollar accounted for in the budget. You can’t take funds for the special event and force it into paying for web hosting. Unless you’re lucky enough to have oodles of general operating expense funds, you’re going to have to piece together a funding puzzle that works.
The good news is that web hosting can actually fall into a number of categories legally. It might be considered part of GOE, technology, office administration or even parts of special events since you’ll likely be using part of your online presence for marketing. Get creative, but make sure your CPA checks things over to keep things on the up and up.
Squeezing hosting into a non-profit budget
There are many free web hosting options out there, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your non-profit. Free often equates to a lot of clients sharing a server, which ends in slow load times. Your audience deserves better than that, especially if you have a website with a lot of traffic or peak seasons (like registering for annual galas each autumn). If there are budgetary restraints, define your budget for web hosting and start researching.
Just make sure you get quality customer service along with shared hosting and minimal sharers. What’s the use of a great web host package if there’s not complementary service to go along with it?