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How budget website and email solutions are costing your nonprofit more

How budget website and email solutions are costing your nonprofit more

I recently had a call with a nonprofit leader who had a challenge with their website and email. Things had stopped working and they were in need of a quick fix to get back online again.

The problem was, that they didn’t know what broke the system. And the guy who built it wasn’t available.

As I dove in to help, the issue became apparent. The website and email system were pieced together like a college student’s first car… with duck tape, baling wire, and bubble gum holding it together.

It included a combination of free and budget email and website solutions. Each with its own set of documented issues and problems. So when something stopped working… there was no telling where the root issue was.

With the right solution and setup, his website and email would have been back online in 15-20 minutes with little to no bill. Instead, at the 90-minute mark, we were still chasing bugs with no solution in sight.

As we tried to make sense of the mess, I was reminded of a truth I learned in my early years of nonprofit work…

Budget Solutions Cost More to Implement.


Before you throw rocks and mumble under your breath at me… I understand the tension.

Money is tight and every penny of your nonprofit marketing budget counts.

As a result, price is the deciding factor in the solutions you pick for your website, email, communications, and more.

But… these solutions are cheap for a reason.

They require more time, effort, troubleshooting, and management than moderately priced solutions. So they “cost” less upfront, but not in the end.

Look at it this way.

Solution 1 costs $100, takes 20 hours to set up, requires 3 hours a week to maintain, and will last 3 years.

Solution 2 costs $1000, takes 3 hours to set up, requires 1 hour a week to maintain, and will last 5 years.

Which solution do most nonprofits choose?

Solution 1.

Which solution will cost the nonprofit more?

Solution 1.

I get it… You need your email and website to be easy to use, last a long time, and convert people to donors. But the cost of keeping a budget solution running quickly outpaces the initial cost savings. Include the additional life expectancy of quality solutions, and the savings are even greater.

The crazy part is that…

Almost every tech-related call I receive comes down to a Solution 1 issue.

A panicked nonprofit leader is looking to “fix” a problem with their email system or website. They need a way to get the system back online so a fundraising campaign can be sent or a donation page can go live. They’re out of time and need a way to keep the system limping along, despite the challenges.

And then they get an invoice for the “fix” and suddenly recognize the challenge.

A Solution 2 option made more sense and would have helped them:

  • save tons of time
  • focus staff attention on what is communicated, instead of fighting technology
  • serve more people in need
  • cost the organization less money in the process

Instead, they have spent as much, or more, and are still stuck with a Solution 1 setup.

My best advice to you as a nonprofit leader is to…

Stop making price the #1 deciding factor in the email and website solutions you consider.

Look at the life expectancy, expected upkeep, and setup process.

If you’re unsure of which solution is best for your nonprofit then ask a coach or consultant in the space.

Get unbiased input into the best options for your unique set of challenges, and then act on it.

I promise you, even if you have to pay a consultant for an hour of their time, it will be some of the best investments you can make into your nonprofit and save you in the long run.


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