So I did a post a while ago about a few email marketing programs that all non-profits should use. I wanted to update you today because I located a great service that is available free to qualified non-profits. VerticalResponse is a marketing company that does email marketing, direct mail and surveys. They have offered a 15% discount to non-profits for some time, but recently announced that non-profits can now use their services for free. The only limitation on this free account is that you can only send 10, 000 email per month. If you need more than that, you can purchase credits for the aforementioned 15% discount.
As I was looking over this site, I realized that there is quite a bit of information to digest all at once. I have decided to create a short technology guide for non-profits to help everyone make sense of this information. I am going to break this guide into a few different parts. Today, we'll look at the most essential parts of getting started. The good news is that this shouldn't take more than an hour of your time. 1. The most important thing you can do as a new start-up is to get a website up and running. I would recommend having a website up before you even file your paperwork with the IRS for tax-exempt status or have a business card printed. You don't want to find yourself discussing your new idea with a prospective donor and not be able to provide a web address. You can set up a nice website using off the shelf tools available from most major hosts. My personal suggestion for entry level webpages is HostGator.com. I used to have an account with them and was very impressed with their customer service and technical support. HostGator also features automatic installations of many popular software packages, such as WordPress and Joomla. 2. The second most important thing you can do is create a real email address. It is highly unprofessional to hand someone a business card with your @aol.com email address listed as the contact address. The bottom line is that it is so simple to set up an email address once you have a website, there is no excuse for not having a professional address. I highly recommend Google Apps for Your Domain, but if you are not comfortable setting something like this up, there are much easier solutions. Whoever you use to host your website should have very simple instructions for creating a mailbox. 3. Purchase a new computer. If you are working from your home, I would recommend that you separate your personal computing from your new non-profit. If you have an office, it's kinda a no-brainer that you will need a second computer. If you can't afford a new Apple, and face it, most of us can't, my recommendation would be to check out Dell. Specifically, Dell Financial Services. This is the part of the company that sells off-lease computers. I am writing this from a refurbished laptop that weighs about 4 pounds and cost less than $400. When buying a new computers, STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS VISTA. This "new and improved" operating system is a complete mess. It is horribly slow and does not work with many older printers and scanners. Save yourself the headache and go with Windows XP, preferably XP Professional. So you now have a new computer, a new email address and a new website. Other than waiting for the computer to be delivered, this entire process should not have taken more than one hour.