Creating a new website for your charity or non-profit organisation can seem challenging. There are many services out there which will offer you templates, but you’ll often have to give up control over layout and structure. They may well insert adverts which you might not want and you probably won’t get any email capabilities.
In setting up this website, we wanted to make sure we owned the domain, could create and maintain email addresses linked to it and have full control of what we hosted, with the freedom to add in additional services in the future. We also wanted to spend as little money as possible and have a mechanism where, once the site was up and running, non-technical people could still add content easily.
We decided to register our own domain with Gandi.net which was the only thing we had to pay for, then get a hosted virtual server from Memset, who offer free hosting for registered charities. Once that was up and running, we installed WordPress to allow easy content creation for non-technical people to use.
If you would like to follow our example, these posts will go through the steps required to get your site up and running.
Picking a good domain
Before you can get cracking on getting your site online, you’ll need to decide on the domain name you want to use. This is what people will use to get to your website and also form the bit after the @ in your email addresses. You’ll want to pick something which describes your organisation but is short and memorable. It’s also worth thinking about whether it could be misspelled or would be easy to mistake for an existing site.
Once you have a name in mind, you’ll need to check whether it’s already been taken and decide on which top level domain you want to use. These are the final bits of your domain name and help identify where your organisation sits. The most common sites use “.com” but many charities go for “.org”, or if you want emphasize the country in which you are based, “.org.uk” or the equivalent code for your own country.
Once you have a name in mind, it’s time to find out whether it’s available and how much it’s going to cost. While some sites will offer free registrations for domain names, this is a point where it’s better to spend some money to make sure you’re going to get a decent service.
We used Gandi.net for our registration and the steps in this tutorial will be based about their service. They regularly get good reviews from their customers, provide 10 hosted email addresses included with the domain and up to 1,000 forwarding addresses. They also don’t try and sell you services they don’t need.
Registering your Domain
To get your domain setup with Gandi, here’s a step-by-step guide:
Go to https://www.gandi.net/ and put your domain name into the Domain Name Registration box as shown below. If you leave off the top level domain (the “.org”, “.com” etc) for now then the site will list some suggestions for you to look at.
Click on the ‘Go’ button and wait for the next page to load. You’ll then be able to see which domains are available to purchase and prices for each.
The boxes on the right hand side of the page will show whether the domain is available and the price to register it for a year or longer. You’ll probably get a discount for registering up front for multiple years, but don’t worry if you only go for a year to start with, they’ll email you when it’s time to renew.
Click on the checkboxes for the domains you want to order and click on the order button at the bottom of the page.
You’ll need to provide some contact details to associate with the registration. If you can it’s best to use the address details for your charity rather than an individual. You should remember that some of this information may be publicly visible if someone looks up the registration details for the domain so associate it with the organisation rather than a person if you can. You can limit how much information is shared by clicking the Private Domain Registration box on the contact details form, otherwise the remaining defaults are fine.
You can then review the information presented and submit the order. Once the order’s confirmed, make sure you keep hold of your login details. We’ll need them later on once we have a host for your site which we’ll cover in part 2. For now it will just point to a holding page until you’re ready to use it.