Recently, GoDaddy made headlines by offering renewed servers for one year, complimentary, to their Nepal-based customers. A handful of other web hosts followed suit, doing their part in helping the country recover from a series of devastating earthquakes. As a web host, it’s good for business, especially if your pockets are as deep as GoDaddy’s. It’s very low cost marketing and PR, guaranteed to make headlines and it’s quite likely the web host will drum up new business from this move. However, the reality is that many web hosts are philanthropists—you just might not know it.
The simple fact that many web hosts provide a free hosting option can be considered charitable. Are they making profits elsewhere? Of course, but that’s not the point. By guaranteeing free or very low cost services, web hosts are giving more startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs access to the Digital Era. However, there’s still a big marketing difference between standard free hosting and “giving to charity” after a disastrous event.
Does it matter to you if your web host is a philanthropist?
“Philanthropy” is technically defined as the desire to promote welfare to others. Some web hosts do this in the traditional sense, such as the Nepal donations, while others focus on sustainability as a way to promote welfare to Mother Earth. Some clients will only do business with a green web host, while others are eager to find out what non-profit organizations a web host offers in-kind donations to (if any). There’s something invaluable about the “feel goods” that come with being a philanthropist yourself, or supporting one, but not when it comes with a sacrifice to your business.
Your customers (website visitors) still need to come first. That means you need a web host with high uptime, fantastic customer service and scalability. That should come before checking out what organizations they support. Philanthropy and/or sustainability may be important, but it’s not top dog when price-comparing web hosts.
Find Your Own Ways to Give Back
If you’re a website owner and giving back is important to you, start looking for avenues to do more yourself. This might be offering free services if you’re a business, featuring non-profit interviews if you’re an entertainment site or news outlet, or offering a giveaway to your customers who collect the most cans to donate and provide proof of donation. Not only will you get karma points, but in some instances you may even qualify for a tax write-off.
Ultimately, particularly with enterprises, philanthropy is just as beneficial for them (if not more so) than their recipients. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but it’s worth noting. Are you willing to settle for customer service automation struggles or more downtime just because a web host made a media-stealing philanthropic move? Probably not, since your employees and customers will end up paying the price. Instead, aim for balance with philanthropy and undertake your own giving back ventures that are ideally suited to your website and preferences.