If your church or nonprofit wants to get found, it must have a digital presence. Yet, it may not have the budget for a custom website which usually starts at $2,000 and goes up from there.
An alternative to a custom site is a managed website company that hosts and offers templates you can use to build your site.
The downside of website builders is that it puts the burden on you to create and maintain the site. Part of that may mean that you have to make certain (regularly) that your site is well optimized. It’s also up to you to make sure the site gives your visitors a good user experience. Also, free plans usually mean ads will go up on your site.
On the other hand, in the absence of a budget, a website builder can give your church or nonprofit a digital presence and help you get found at a low cost or even for free.
Let’s look at a few free and inexpensive website builders for your church or nonprofit organization:
Google just launched a product called “Website,” a free website builder that lets organizations create a single-page website.
To get started, organizations must have a Google My Business listing, and one that’s pretty well complete. Google then pulls details from the GMB listing to create the page. It allows for some customization of the webpage.
If you already have a Google My Business listing, sign in and you will be prompted to create your free website.
Alternatively, you can start your site here.
For free, Duda offers quite a few features including mobile-ready and responsive websites. One of the best things about Duda is that it’s hosted by Amazon Cloud which hosts many well-known and trusted sites.
Duda gives a few interesting premium options including a $14.25/month (billed annually) plan—or the same plan at $300 for life. On this plan, you get a responsive website, full analytics and tracking, email, a custom domain, SSL certificate, no ads, site backup and even a 10-product eCommerce store.
This could be a good option if you want a robust, yet inexpensive, website.
The website builder features drag-and-drop webpage templates so you don’t need to worry about code. The free plan lets you create a 5-page website.
Their “Pro” plan is just $5/month (billed annually) and lets you register your own domain name, remove ads and have professional email.
SiteBuilder features several other plans and price points. Their most expensive plan—$12/month (billed annually)—gives you SEO tools and an eCommerce store too.
Squarespace starts at $12/month (billed annually) and offers attractive features like a mobile-ready website, website metrics, 24/7 customer support and an SSL certificate. They even offer eCommerce and allow you to sell an unlimited number of products and accept donations (though they charge a 3% transaction fee).
For $18/month you get a G Suite account for more domain management and a professional email with your custom domain name (normally $60/year), a $100 Google Adwords credit and pop ups. I would recommend skipping this option as you can get these things separately and for less money, except that the extra $6/month also gets you the ability to create unlimited Squarespace web pages (vs just 20 pages at $12/month).
If you want to create a simple yet visually attractive site, Squarespace is probably the right option for your organization. It’s often known as a website builder for photographers and artists.
Zoho Sites will let you create two mobile-ready websites with a blog and unlimited pages and storage for free.
However the free option does not allow for custom domain hosting (your domain would be http://sitename.zohosites.com) or an SSL certificate (strongly recommended by Google and required if you’re accepting money on your site).
For $5/month, you can add custom domain hosting and some additional features like 301 redirects (needed if you need to permanently change the location or URL of a webpage) and bigger file sizes.
For $15/month, Zoho Sites offers more bells and whistles like PayPal integration and a 2,000 member portal.
For $0/month, Weebly will give you a basic drag-and-drop website builder. Like other free website builders, your site would be a subdomain (ie http://yoursite.weebly.com) and feature ads.
For $12/month, Weebly offers a fairly full-feature website plus eCommerce capabilities (though they do charge a 3% transaction fee, on top of what your payment gateway—like PayPal—would charge).
If you choose to go with a managed website builder, we encourage that you choose one that gives you a bit more control. Namely, one that:
lets you connect your own domain (so you can control your domain should you choose to move it later)
is already mobile and SEO optimized
These options will create less of a headache for you later when you’re trying to move your domain to a custom site or trying to get your website ranked in Google.
Otherwise, these website builders can give your church or nonprofit a simple digital presence that can help it get found online so you can give hope.
(note: none of the sites listed here are affiliate links…we do not receive any compensation for including them in this post)