There's no such thing as a 'free' website
Common question: Our NGO cant affored for a website, are there people out there who do” pro bono” website work for a good cause?
I don't suggest letting anyone develop your site for free, even if they offer. The bottom line is you get what you pay for! Once the developer moves on (and they will), what happens to the site?
But let’s say you do get “free” website. The real expenses are just beginning. You still need the funds for hosting, maintenance, upgrades, and repairs. Then you will need staff resources to develop content and keep the site up to date. So many times I’ve seen a small NGO scrape a few rands together to build a website (for no other reason than someone told them they needed one) only to realise that they didn’t have the staff time, expertise or funds to maintain it.
Trust me. A bad, outdated website is worse than no website at all. It makes you look amateurish. If you don’t have the staff to build and maintain a website, don’t advertise that fact by putting up a bad website.
Some organisations need to change their thinking about websites. A website is not a piece of office equipment that you scrape up money for. It should part of an ongoing communications strategy, and as such it must have resources committed to it. Development should be properly budgeted for and monies raised for it specifically. With some creative thinking however, it is possible to recover ongoing costs for maintanence of the site by offering advertising space or seeking corporate sponsorship.
Of course, there are are free services which offer DIY websites. But that still leaves you with the staffing issues around gathering and creating content and keeping it up to date. And does a free DIY website really convey the image you're trying to project of your organisation?
So if the money simply doesn't exist, I suggest skiping the website altogether and go straight to Facebook.
Facebook pages are freely accessible even if you don't have a Facebook account, so you won't be limiting your audience to those on Facebook. Pages can be found on Google, so people can still search for your content. It's free and easy to use. With a time commitment of just a few hours a week, you can easily post news and key events, calls to action and so forth on your Facebook Page.
You can even register a domain name and have it point to Facebook page, so for example you can register http://www.nonprofit-network.org and have that redirect to http://www.facebook.com/nponetwork -- so you don't have to have the facebook URL on your business card, and you can still have email addresses on your domain.
And eventually when you can afford a website, you'll already have your domain name secured.