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Building Your Free Nonprofit Site with Wetpaint Part One: Why a Wiki Makes Sense

Getting Your Nonprofit Online for Free With Wetpaint

  Build_with_wetpaint_3 A few weeks ago, Sallie Owen, Communications Director for the A+ Education Foundation, e-mailed me:

Saturday I was a presenter for the Alabama Organizing Project, a year-long leadership training program for grassroots organizers. I mentioned wikis as a sidenote about Web 2.0 and the idea of free or very cheap websites that were easy to update, which turned out to spark a lot of questions.

Sallie went on to tell me that the group has a wide range of technological savvy and that most were from very small organizations with minimal resources. She asked if I had anything to share on how a nonprofit could put up a website using wiki software. I didn't have anything specific, but it's an idea I'd been toying with ever since I'd seen the site put together by Nonprofit Rules on Wetpaint. So I told her I'd pull something together.

Over the next few days then, I'm going to take a look at how to use Wetpaint to create a nonprofit site. Here's what's coming:

  • Wednesday I'll show you how to get signed up with Wetpaint and how to set up your account and site, including selecting your design and privacy options.
  • On Thursday we'll cover some basics on how to build a site.
  • And on Friday, we'll get a little more advanced, looking at how Wetpaint gives you the option of using your own domain name (i.e., www.mynonprofit.org) and setting up Google Analytics to track traffic on your site. I'll also answer any lingering questions that people may have.

A few of the posts will include screencasts to walk you through the steps. Each day I'm also going to give you some "Action Items" so that you can follow along at home.  If all goes well, by the end of the week you'll have set up your own site with Wetpaint. So get out your website content and start thinking about what you want on your site. It's going to be a busy week. 

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Hi Michele, I look forward to reading your adventures with this. I'm designing and delivering training later in the month for nonprofits in getting up there on the web, and going to give them a taster of the many easy, affordable tools available, so will enjoy reading your journey!
Take care
Laura

Thanks, Laura--as always, please feel free to give me all the constructive feedback that you can. I can definitely use it!

I'm looking forward to hearing about your experience. Another option that has been around for years (wow 9 years now!) for nonprofits is http://charityfocus.org/ - they'll assign someone to work with you and put together a site. They don't provide a Wiki, but it's at least as good as the old PHPNuke once it's up and running. Also, since WordPress now has the feature of being able to have a "static" page as the main page rather than the blog being the main page, it's also a good option for creating a simple site that combines the best of blogging and the best of self-administered regular pages. I have a post coming up in a few days (it's already written and scheduled for publication on the 12th) about CharityFocus and will point to it when it becomes public. [Sky]

Good point, Jim, re: using Wordpress or other blogging software to create a site. I'm actually considering doing another series on how to create a website with blogging software and one on using Ning for your site, as it has potential, too.

My goal here is to give people different options in terms of what works best for them, depending on their needs, the look they're going for, etc. I'll look forward to seeing your post on Charity Focus.

Have any of you ever used Weebly to create a website? (http://www.weebly.com) A colleague recommended it to me, and I'm just starting to play around with it now. I'd be curious how you (and your readers) think it compares to using wiki or blog applications.

Thanks, Bronwyn--hours of work now down the tubes! :-)

Seriously, I just took it for a test drive and it's a pretty sweet site. VERY easy and intuitive to use with a lot of drag and drop stuff, which makes it really easy for the technological neophyte. Plus it's incredibly easy to add my own basic blog, set up the navigation, etc. I could also either use my own domain or go through them to get one (for a fee, but that's true of any domain name). There were some other nice features, too, like the ability to create a back-up zip file and to set your meta tags for search engines, so they really seem to have thought of everything. Great find and one I think I'm going to have to do something with now.

Hi Michele
this is a great, non-scary starter package not only for NFP folks looking for a web presence, but also, I'd suggest for anyone wanting to get a toehold on how this all works. Perhaps the next step on the journey is 'building your own site', then a beginners' guide to social-networking etc.

Thanks, Kate--I'm hoping that it's helpful and "non-scary." I'm afraid that's one of the problems with tech is that it feels frightening, but really once you start playing with it all, it's much easier as you know. :-)

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