Freelance Web Design (since 2000)

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The Internet and the NPO

Donations, grants and volunteers are part and parcel of the success of any Non Profit Organization. Without these contributions, the valuable work they do for the less fortunate is severely jeapordized. Many a worthwhile NPO has had to close its doors because of a lack of these life supporting ingredients.

Web Sites for the NPO

NPO board members have passion for the cause, but passion alone do not pay the bills. The abilities of full-time staff to provide the care are limited to the resources at their disposal. Help is needed!

Usually, one of the first initiatives of NPO's to gain outside support, is to put up a web site for the organization. These web sites proudly features pictures of the poor and the staff. A feeble attempt at providing valuable information to would-be supporters is added, just before the very prominent banking details. Then NPO staff and board alike waits for the money to roll in.

In the unlikely event of a prospective sponsor stumbling across the said web site, a process starts that keeps the staff busy for weeks as they compile all the information required by their future donor to make an informed decision. In most cases these nocturnal efforts are worthless and futile. Valuable hours and often days, have been spent only to realise that it was not good enough and that the benefactor had changed his/her mind.

The notion of Using a web site in this manner is futile. Does that mean that we need to ignore the whole idea of having a web site for our NPO? Are we asking ourselves whether the money we spent of the web design was wasted? The money was not necessarily wasted, but it could have been spent more wisely.

The information and tips following here are intended to equip NPO decision-makers for the process of adding a web site to their organization's public relations portfolio.

Web Site as online Presentation

A more effective web site will put together a presentation that contains all the information we want to carry across, but includes an added advantage that the reader can select bits and pieces of information he/she requires, leaving out those that they are not presently interested in. This creates a pleasant user experience which is of paramount importance when a quick response is required from a prospective benefactor.

Web Site as a Data-store

As time goes by, many documents, letters and emails are sent by the NPO staff to prospective donors or sponsors. Many, if not all these can be re-used for other recipients.

Without having to spend too much time on it, these documents should be adapted, if necessary, and posted on the web site. This means that the next time we communicate with someone simliar, only a short email that includes links to the relevant articles on the web site, has to be sent. Doing communication in this effective way, saves time and money, as well as provides information to readers that we have not yet made contact with.

Update the web site yourself

The NPO's web site should be set up in such a way that the staff should be able to do timely updates themselves, in stead af having to rely on the response from a third party web design company or individual. A web site can be prepared that allows for this kind of updates without the risk of



The technical experience required for such updates can be compared to that required to send an email. The added advantage is that a senior official that has the authority to decide which information should go to the web site, can do the updates himself/herself, saving valuable time and human resources.

Interactivity - Write for reaction

Writing for the web site, must never be a one way action. We must ecpect (and make it possible for) others to react and respond. It must be possible for readers to add comments to whatever information is on our site.

Web site grows with its owner - Scalability

Each world-famous NPO started very small. Each small NPO has the potential to become a large and powerful entity. With growth comes increased requirements regarding their web site. The vast majority of the web sites on the WWW today, has been left behind by their owners because it was simply to costly and time-consuming to upgrade it to new requirements.

The ideal web site should be able to be upgraded quickly, effectively and affordable.

The solution - JOOMLA!

Normally, designing a web site that provides all the features discussed in this article, can be a costly and time-consuming exercise. THIS IS NO LONGER NECESSARY! JOOMLA! is an open-source project that provides state-of-the-art functionality and a scalable web environment upon which a web site of any size or type can be built. Its main advantage is that the technical knowledge that keeps it working - and growing - is available free of charge.

Any customer that procures a "Powerted by JOOMLA!" web site, essentially pays only for the time and expertise of a consultant to set it up and to maintain it. JOOMLA! is currently being used by web site owners from each and every discipline or trade throughout the world. It is constantly being updated and upgraded. New extensions and features that satisfy the growing requirements of its users are added daily. At the time of this writing, there wereƂ about 7,000 such extensions available (see www.extensions.joomla.org). Most of these extensions are free as well and can be set up by a JOOMLA! consultant in no time at all and at minimal cost.

Go-4-Internet and JOOMLA!

We at Go4Internet spent at least 8 years developing custom web sites and Content Management Systems (CMS) for our clients. When we were introduced to JOOMLA! in 2008, we terminated all programming activities and migrated our clients to JOOMLA!. 95% of our new clients are built on it and we do not forsee us developing any custom web site on any other platform in future.

The most important reasons behind this is that we can now turn around a successful project in a fraction of the time required in the past. The final cost to the customer for a superior product is insignificant compared to other custom projects.

Being a platform that provides interactivity and data-store capacity, the monthly hosting fees are a little higher than that required for a static online brochure-type web site.

Essentially, the cost of maintaining a JOOMLA!-based site is spread over time, as demands increase, whereas the cost of a traditional web site is mainly higher and requires upfront expenses.

All these facts make a JOOMLA!-site a product of choice for the NPO.