GoDaddy, How Tos, Internet, Network Solutions

How to get your small nonprofit up on the Web, Part 1 of 3

This tutorial is for the very tiny nonprofit. Imagine you’re the one-person staff of a nonprofit. Your org is young, you’re smart and organized but don’t have a lot of tech savvy (yet). This tutorial is for you to get up on the Web quickly. You’ve just figured out you wanted to start your nonprofit but you have no idea where to begin. Here are my recommendations:

1. Get your domain name through GoDaddy.

2. Get your e-mail infrastructure up and running from Google Apps for Domains.

3. Get your web site up and running over at WordPress.com.

And the great thing? It’s going to cost you about $8 a year. I promise. Ok $9 a year if you want to keep your registration details off the Web.


This blog post and others following after it will be about those three steps. I’ll try to get these all up by the end of this week. I’m planning on taking these articles and dumping them into a Wiki so people can add their own comments in the future.

But first, let’s talk about domain names. You need one. It’s the stamp that shows that you’re a real organization. When your e-mail ends in an aol.com or a yahoo.com domain name, you’re not going to be seen as serious or web-savvy. If your name ends in a gmail.com account, you’re getting close. However, it’s best to have your e-mail address end in a yourorgnamehere.org.

So the first thing that has to happen is you getting a domain name. The old way to do this was to go through Network Solutions which for years was the only place you could get a .com or .org domain in the United States. You can now get domain names at a whole slew of other sites. GoDaddy is a good alternative.

There is one problem though. There’s a good chance that your organization’s name has already been taken. You’re going to have to find acceptable alternatives. For the purposes of this tutorial, do NOT use any site bybut GoDaddy or Network Solutions to look for a domain name. Less scrupulous web sites will take your domain name searches and register YOUR domain names thus forcing you to pay an additional fee in order to use it. That practice is called “domain name front running”. Yeah, the Internet sucks sometimes, this is one of those moments.

Before you get a domain name, you will need:

  • A credit card or a PayPal account that has at $10 credit on it.
  • Lots of imagination for coming up with a good domain name.
  • A mailing address to get any notifications from GoDaddy.
  • An e-mail address. But wait, Allan, I thought I was going to get a new e-mail domain name and everything? Unfortunately, you’ll still need your old e-mail address. You can change this info later once you’ve your e-mail infrastructure up and running.

Step 1. Finding your domain name

I went to godaddy.com and found a text box that expected me to enter a new domain name.

GoDaddy search for a domain name

I decided to enter mynonprofits.org. And clicked on the orange search button.

Step 2. Get your domain name

GoDaddy domain name found

Good. They found a match. And you could get the other domains if you wanted to just so you could redirect those domains to your site later. However, our budget is less than $10 so let’s not go crazy. Click the orange Continue button at the bottom of the page.

Step 3. Get a GoDaddy account

You have to fill out registration information. It’s pretty easy, once you’re done, click on the orange Continue button.

GoDaddy registration page

I’m going to show what GoDaddy does after you fill out the sheet. It asks you to verify the contact information. PLEASE make sure it’s correct. It’s the only way GoDaddy can contact you when your domain name is going to expire.

GoDaddy verification of account information

There’s a lot of extra junk on this page. It’s basically intended to make you register your own name as a domain name. Just disregard it. It’s just intended to get a little bit more money out of you. Once you’re done checking things, click on the orange Continue button.

Step 4. Decide how long it will before your domain name expires

What’s that? Domain names expire? Yes they do. Make sure that registration length is at 1 year. When you know your organization is going to be stronger next year, you can then move ahead. Some options explained. Why do you need private registration? Actually, you don’t need it. You may want it. Technically speaking, if you’re still running your org out of your house, you probably entered your home address into the contact info at Step 3. Unfortunately, this means that people searching for who owns your new domain name will find your home address in there. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to check for “Deluxe” registration but I’m not doing it here because we’re looking to do a bare-bones registration. However, a more private registration will only cost you about $2 a year.

GoDaddy registration

Really, don’t bother with customizing your order. All you need to do is somehow make it to the checkout screen.

Step 5. Almost there!

GoDaddy LOVES to give you extra chances to buy stuff. Just bear with me. This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get a domain name. Make sure you’re only buy for 1 year.

GoDaddy checkout

Make sure the Domain Registration Agreement and Universal Terms of Service checkboxes are checked before you hit the Continue button.

Step 6. Sign in and pay for it.

Nothing interesting here. However, just make sure your e-mail address is correct. If GoDaddy can’t contact you, then you won’t know that your domain name is expiring next year. This can cause a lot of grief (I know, I’ve been there). And you may end up having to sign in ANOTHER domain name because it can take weeks to get an expired domain name back in your hand especially as other sites are looking to take your domain name from you so that they can sell it back to you. Yes, I know this all sounds horrible. However, just make sure that you renew your domain name every year. And don’t take offers from anyone but GoDaddy after you’ve signed up. Please note that just having a domain name doesn’t mean that you automatically get your new domain name in your e-mail. There’s a bit of configuration that has to happen first. You need a mail server at the

Next post will be on how to use your new domain name with Google Apps.

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12 Comments

  • On 01.22.08 Forum One Tech Blog said:

    Non-Profit Tech Blog The basics of geting your .org on line…

    Non Profit Tech blog has posted an excellent start to their 3 part series on How to get your small nonprofit up on the Web, showing how to register for your domain name and why you want one. I’m also heartened to see that part 2 will detail how to us…

  • On 01.23.08 Thomas Taylor said:

    Network Solutions has also recently been accused of domain name front-running.

    And if your small non-profit opposes blatant misogyny in marketing, is ecologically minded and not wanting the marketing portion of its expenditures to go to NASCAR racing, or is opposed to militarism and doesn’t want to get an annual “Happy Birthday Marine Corps” email from the founder and CEO of their domain registrar, GoDaddy might not be the best option either. I’ve used GoDaddy for quite a while, and their prices are great, and their customer service is also great. But I’ve been moving domains away from them for the above-referenced reasons, to http://gandi.net, which is a great little company. Higher prices (but not Network-Solutions high), and a good company. If you think you might want phone support, it’s probably not a good option. But otherwise, they’re tops – they have all the key services, like included DNS management, e-mail forwarding, actual e-mail boxes, etc, that GoDaddy does.

    In fact, you could do this entire project just for the cost of domain registration with Gandi.net – you get 5 e-mail accounts with 1GB storage each and a free blogging platform with your domain. I haven’t used either, and I love my GAFYD, so not necessarily recommending it, just pointing it out.

  • On 01.24.08 Allan Benamer said:

    @Thomas: the tutorial wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of any particular political or advocacy position. I just want small nonprofits to be up on the Web with a minimum of fuss but also with some forward-looking ability to get help. It’s much easier for someone with less technical experience to get help with GoDaddy than they would with Gandi.net.

    I suspect that would almost always be the case going forward should any of my readers need help in the future. I don’t want to leave my intended audience stranded without help and they’ll be able to find help faster if they were using a registrar like GoDaddy that everyone knows about.

    As for the accusation that Network Solutions was front-running itself, I believe it’s overhyped. It seems to be more of a bad attempt at trying to stop front running from happening. I suspect they’ll change policy soon. However, I also believe Network Solutions is way overpriced too so that’s why I chose GoDaddy as the targeted solution…

  • On 02.27.08 Joel said:

    I would suggest exploring the use of an open-source content management system like Drupal (or a deconstructed WordPress Blog) as a great option for 75% of non-profits (and the cost is $0), instead of working with a proprietary or custom-developed site. This saves money and time.

    Learn more at Drupal.org or if you have any questions you can email me at [email protected]

    Best-

    Joel B.

    ReadyDone // We help make stuff
    10% discounts for 501(C)3′s on already cheap rates

  • On 03.01.08 Allan Benamer said:

    I’m probably going to suggest something like wordpress.com for people to start with. I think a blog format is a more lively expression of communication than your normal nonprofit brochureware and I’m hoping that newer and small nonprofits will want to take the format up.

    For the admittedly very special target market that we’re talking about (1 or 2 person nonprofits), I think Drupal or even Joomla are overkill. I think a blog is pretty much all they can conceivably handle anyway. It’s also important to encourage nonprofits to post every few days and I think the complexities of a full-blown CMS can get in the way of that.

  • On 04.06.09 Josh Lind said:

    Network Solutions bought a domain as I was looking for it… and they are needlessly more expensive.

    GoDaddy uses disgusting advertising methods with half naked women. Just look at the diamond earing creepo CEO.

    Try DreamHost.com or, if you’re a bit more savvy, I prefer joker.com

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