I did a talk at the Word Camp Gold Coast held at Bond University on 5 and 6 November 2011. The topic of my talk was the blog post series that I’ve done on Building a Web Presence for your Community Group using free or very low cost tools.
Most people belong to some form of community or sporting group – what is their website like? Do they have a domain, with email addresses like email@example.com? Do they have a central location for all the documents required for the efficient running of the group? There are so many reasons to have a Web Presences, the question should be why they don’t want one. Too expensive? Too difficult? The great thing is that these two excuses are now just that – excuses. Cost and “tech savvyness” are not an impediment to setting up a cool looking web site, a domain and email accounts.
So here are the things you need:
1. A Domain – eg a .com.au or .org.au or .asn.au name that has the name of your community group. There are a few rules to getting a domain name ending in .au so have a look at my post on Domains for Community Groups.
2. A WordPress.com Website – this is a breeze to set up and get going – the hardest thing is choosing the theme to represent your community group. See my post on Websites for Community Groups. This also shows how to link your Domain name to your WordPress.com website. This bit costs US$12/year.
3. Google Apps for Your Domain – This handles all the back end functionality like Email, Documents, Calendar etc as well as the logins for your committee members. See this post on Email for Community Groups. This also shows how to link Google Apps to your WordPress.com site. Google Apps is also where the events Calendar for your community group lives. You then show that calendar on your WordPress.com website by embedding it in a page or a widget on the sidebar.
4. Mailchimp – this not only a fantastic tool for sending out email marketing, it is also a tool to keep your membership database – and it’s all for free if you have under 2000 members or list subscribers (+ email limits). See this post on Event Management and Emails for Community Groups. This post also covers off using Eventbrite for events and CRM systems if you need more for member management than Mailchimp offers.
As an aside, if you are running a Not for Profit community group, then also consider going the whole hog and getting Salesforce for your CRM and back end systems (it can probably handle most things except accounts). Salesforce gives licences for 10 users for free. You will of course need to invest some time, money and effort to set it up, and you can contact me to help with this.
And whilst we are on the topic of back end systems, one thing that I did not include in my talk is the wonderful Saasu – a full Cloud based Australian Accounting system, that is free for up to 20 transactions per month, or very reasonably priced for larger businesses, and is just far superior to MYOB in every way, in my opinion.
Some of the other tools mentioned in my talk are Wufoo forms, and I’ve written a post about the minor issues with using Wufoo together with Mailchimp and WordPress, especially for Member details forms. For simple forms like sign up for a newsletter, the combination of the three tools is great.
The other great tool I mentioned is Screen Steps. This is a great tool to create structured help content for your end users. Use this in conjunction with links to the great content in the WordPress.com support website to create some great help documents.
If you have any ides for other free or very cheap tools to use for getting an Web Presence for your community or sporting groups, then please add a comment. Or if there is anything I have not mentioned then please ask in the comments also.