The Easy Way to Create a Free Website for Your Non-profit

With limited budgets and time available to so many non-profits these days, not everyone is in a position to hire a professional web developer to create a spiffing new website for their organisation. But, thanks to the huge advances in web technology in recent years, that needn't stop your organisation from having an eye-catching online presence. You can use a website builder to create an impressive looking website in just an hour or two and so help to spread your message through the world wide web. And, best of all, many of these website builder services are free!

All you need do is register with the chosen website builder site of your choice and then choose a template for your website. In most instances you'll have a selection of 'drag and drop' tools that will easily allow even the least web savvy among us to create a website that really shines.

Some of these website builders also permit you to transfer a domain name (i.e. a web address unique to your organisation / website) for free too. You can often also set up a donation button / page, by embedding your Paypal account into the website builder site you are constructing (Paypal provides special embed html tags for achieving this - and trust us, it's much easier than it sounds!) There are also many different premium features you can sign up for (which vary from service to service), or you can just stick with the 100% free version if you prefer. 

Below you will find a selection of the most popular free website builder solutions, along with a couple of other handy tools to help your organisation raise its online profile:

Weebly

Weebly is an old favourite among those who use template-based website builders. It’s easy to use, clean-looking, and has a lot of customisation options. Drag and drop features are stored on a side bar to the left, though you can only put the elements you add in into certain areas of the page. However, keeping the options limited could help novices grasp Weebly faster. Weebly’s features include free templates, the ability to add maps, blogs and multimedia. Weebly provides unlimited storage space and bandwidth. 
www.weebly.com
 

Wix

Wix is one of the best most popular website builders on the web. The templates are extremely user-friendly and the process is very similar to how you would put together a PowerPoint presentation. You’ll be doing a lot of dragging and dropping and text-box editing. While Wix offers more flexibility in terms of customisation over many other website builders, this could leave less experienced page builders vulnerable to sloppiness, especially those with untrained eyes. Templates are also free (though you cannot switch templates once you have started a project). Wix includes 500MB of storage and a 500MB bandwidth limit. 
 

Webs

Webs is a popular website builder hosting over 50 million sites. You have access to innumerable templates to browse and choose from with multiple unique features. The highlight here is the drag and drop interface with no requirement for coding. This is what makes it handy for anyone to create their website in minutes. The Webs.com free option includes 40MB of storage and a 0.5GB bandwidth limit.
www.webs.com
 

WebStarts

WebStarts is a good fit for those who wants to build very simple, elegant websites. If having a multitude of features at your disposal can make you feel overwhelmed, WebStarts could be your cup of tea. It is very easy to use, straightforward, and is something akin to a trimmed down version of Weebly. One of the things this website builder doesn’t have, which Weebly does, is a huge selection of fonts. WebStarts includes basic fonts like Times New Roman, Arial and Comic Sans, but templates look sleek. Though you only get 10MB of storage, WebStarts allots you 5GB of bandwidth.
 

WebNode

WebNode has a limited number of fonts, but it does have welcome features like the ability to add social media buttons and maps. The templates look generic, but they all work well and look pretty decent. One of WebNode’s best features is its insert images tool, which was easy to use compared with some of its other features, like font switching. WebNode has a learning curve, but using it should come naturally to you in no time. WebNode offers 100MB free storage and a 1GB bandwidth limit
 

Including a Donation Button

Naturally, you'll want the option to put a donation button in place on your brilliant (and free!) new website. Well, that's usually easy enough to do with a website builder service. The examples below pertain to Weebly.com - please check the specific solutions available for your preferred website builder service before advancing.
 
Weebly assistance on how to add a Paypal donation button to your website: http://kb.weebly.com/donation-button.html
 
The following short video illustrates all of the above in a concise and easy-to-grasp way (can't see the video? press refresh / F5 on your browser to view):

 

Cookie Solutions

If you have a website, then you need to be aware of the new EU-wide Cookie Law, which "is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to get consent from visitors to store or retrieve any information on a computer, smartphone or tablet". Learn more about the new law here.
 
In effect, this means that you must inform people upon visiting your website that you use cookies (note: most website builder solutions do use cookies, making your need to comply with the law unavoidable). Failure to do so could lead to prosecution. 
 
Luckily, you can find some free cookie solutions online, which allow you to simply enough install a cookie popup warning on your website (see an example of it in operation on this website, created by The Wheel using Weebly.com: www.basicincomeireland.com).
 
Two cookie solutions you could use are:
 
  1. http://cookieassistant.com (used by The Wheel when working with Weebly.com)
     
  2. http://civicuk.com/cookie-law/cookie-configurator-v6 (used for The Wheel's custom built websites, e.g. Wheel.ie).