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Web Hosting 101 for Nonprofits

Websites

By: Georgie Peru, Content Contributor for UKWebHostReview.

If you’re planning on creating a website for your nonprofit organization, you’re going to need to find a suitable web host. A web hosting provider essentially rents out digital space in their servers so that their customers (you) can store your website files and make your website available online.

Without web hosting, your website would have nowhere to ‘live’ and your eager visitors wouldn’t be able to access it at all.

If you’re looking to create a website for your nonprofit, or perhaps need to switch web hosting providers, you’re probably wondering “where do I get nonprofit web hosting from?”, “is nonprofit web hosting free?”, and “what do I need to consider when choosing a nonprofit web host?”.

Luckily, this post will discuss the different types of nonprofit web hosting that’s available, how much it costs, and what features you may want to consider when deciding which web host to choose.

Paid vs Free Hosting: Which is Better?

As a nonprofit organization, it’s understandable that you’ll be on a tight budget.  However, if you’re looking for free web hosting, there’s only one reputable provider that offers free web hosting, and it’s only available to US nonprofits (DreamHost’s free shared hosting plan for US nonprofits only).

While options for free web hosting are little to none, the great news is that there are plenty of affordable options available, such as the cheap WordPress hosting from BlueHost, GoDaddy and more.

In addition to the price tag, you should also consider the provider’s  website, performance, and uptime:

  • Website performance refers to the speed in which web pages are downloaded and displayed on the user's web browser
  • Uptime is the time that a website is available to users over a given period. It’s typically represented by a ratio of the time available divided by the total time, and providers calculate the ratio in monthly or yearly increments

Web hosts like BlueHost and SiteGround have stable and reliable results in these areas, making the extra few bucks a month well worth it for nonprofit organizations.

What Type of Hosting is Better?

If you’ve only just scratched the surface in your search for a web host, you’ll have noticed there are quite a few types of hosting available. The most popular types of hosting include shared hosting, WordPress hosting, virtual private server (VPS) hosting, cloud hosting, and dedicated servers:

  • Shared hosting: Refers to a web hosting service where many websites reside on one web server connected to the Internet. This is generally the most economical option for hosting, as the overall cost of server maintenance is amortized over many customers
  • WordPress hosting: A web hosting service that has been optimized to better meet WordPress' performance and security needs. It also typically includes one-click WordPress installs to make it easy to get started with WordPress
  • VPS hosting: Hosting  that uses virtualization technology to provide users with dedicated (private) resources on a server with multiple users. It’s a more secure and stable solution than shared hosting where you don’t get a dedicated server space. However, it’s smaller-scale and cheaper than renting a dedicated server.
  • Cloud hosting: A hosting service that uses the resources of several clustered servers, and is commonly considered as a blend of shared and dedicated hosting together. The load is balanced, security is taken care of and hardware resources are available virtually so they can be used when needed.
  • Dedicated servers: Hosting that uses an entire server not shared with anyone else.

To help you understand more about web hosting for nonprofit websites, here are some important questions to consider before choosing a web host.

Are you using WordPress?

If you are using or plan to use WordPress to create your nonprofit website, it would be worth considering a web host who offers 1-click software installations. These are often powered by Softaculous and allow you to install software like WordPress straight to your web server. You can create your username/password and access your hosting and WordPress account all from one place.

Alternatively, you may want to choose a web host who specifically caters for WordPress users - this is often labelled as WordPress hosting. WordPress hosting offers more of a concierge-like service, including automatic updates, security management, and dedicated WordPress expert support. However, it often costs more than your standard shared hosting packages.

How many visitors does your website get?

If you already have a nonprofit website up and running, you may have a rough idea of how many visitors your website gets on a monthly basis. If you’re not sure, that’s okay, but it may be worth giving it some thought before choosing a web hosting package. There are plenty of tools available to  track your website’s traffic, including Google Analytics and AWStats.

If you get 500 visitors per day or less, we recommend opting for a basic shared hosting package. However, if you expect to exceed these figures, it’s worth considering a more robust web host with more scalability, like SiteGround or WP Engine. Many web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth (bandwidth is another term for website visitors or traffic), however, there are often limitations, e.g:

  • Allowing you to store HTML and CSS files, scripts and images on your plan, but not videos, archives, backups and other files
  • Reserving the right to limit processor time, bandwidth, memory and more if your use negatively impacts other server users

These limits are usually tucked away in a web host’s T&Cs or detailed in their fair use policies. Some web hosts may even charge you if you exceed the ‘limits’ on their unlimited services. So always read the small print before you commit to a particular offer.

Does Your Nonprofit need Email Hosting?

Email hosting is often included with a web hosting package. In most cases, it means you’ll be able to create a custom email address, e.g.  yourname@yourwebsite.com with your own account.

Not all email hosting will have limitations on data storage, but most shared hosting providers who offer free email hosting won’t offer unlimited emails and storage. But, they’ll usually offer it at an upgrade that you can tag on when you need to.

Email hosting isn’t a must-have, but it is a recommended best practice, as it makes your communications seem more professional, and your organization more credible. If your web host doesn’t offer email hosting, there are plenty of alternatives like Microsoft 365 for Nonprofits and G-suite for Nonprofits that offers free email hosting (among a plethora of other services!).

Conclusion

When it comes to hosting your nonprofit organization’s website, it’s important you understand what web hosting is, and some key features to look out for. Hopefully, now you are in a much better position to choose the right web hosting plan for your nonprofit.

Remember, there isn’t a one size fits all in the hosting market. That’s why there are hundreds of providers all offering different slices of the pie, each with their own toppings. Unless you’re expecting to receive thousands of website visitors per day, my recommendation would be to choose a shared web hosting provider who offers 1-click installations (in case you want to use WordPress), and a free SSL certificate. Good providers that offer all of the above include BlueHost or SiteGround.

If your web hosting requirements ever change, you can speak to your web host about upgrading your package or, in many cases, transfer your website to a new provider.


About the Author

Georgie is a Content Contributor for UKWebHostReview. She is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm for technology through her content writing work, with a mission to help others learn and understand what makes the digital world so successful.