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Non-profit technology - churches, missionaries, and government organizations on web site design and computer technology. Whether you are a designer for a church web site, handling technology in a non-profit org, or are looking for tools to help your youth group put up a web page and mailing list, this site is for you.

Note, if after reading this, if you have any questions at all on how to pick the right technology for your non-profit, feel free to email me for free advice.

Cut to the quick:
If you are looking for discounts on dell computers, ms office and other software discounts for non-profits, go to the following sites:

Tech Bargains - bargains on computer technology newsletter

EBates- you can save an additional 3% on purchases at Dell by going first through this affiliate program.

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This web page is dedicated to help community organizations with limited resources, both financial and employee, to utilize computer technology in their organization affordably and efficiently. The goal of this web site is to introduce existing off the shelf technologies and point people towards affordable tools that they can use to efficiently achieve organization goals, whether it be putting up an article-based web page, sending out group emails, or organizing events.

Many non-profit organizations can have a hard time with regards to web site design and computer technologies. Firstly, most non-profits already are very taxed in their budgets. Many groups have to use outdated hardware and software. Secondly, many times there isn't a formally trained staff member experienced in internet or computer technology. Instead, a staff member who has interest is given the responsibility of computer product procurement and web site hosting and design. Even worse, high-priced consultants with limited experience may prey on non-profits - non-profits typically won't understand the computer lingo and may not know about other options where they can purchase equipment at a discount or existing web services (like yahoogroups.com and msngroups.com) that can help their organization. The result of this is the inefficient utilization of both time and money in the non-profit organization.

The main sections of this web page are following:

1. Computer Equipment List - Primer on the things you need (computer equipment, software, DSL, web site hosting).
2. Where to Find Computer Equipment - Finding affordable computer equipment and software
3. Web Site Design - Putting up a web page (hosting, design, and marketing).
4. Web Technology List - Email lists, online calendars, and other free (or affordable) services available online.

What you need:

Computer
A computer provides for you internet, word processing, financial planning, and other functionality. For most word processing and office related functionality, if you are buying a new computer, try to get a system with the following specs:

1.2 Ghz
256 mb ram
40 gigabyte harddrive
CD-Rom (any CD-rom or DVD-rom)
Ethernet card (required) and 56k modem (optional)
15 inch LCD or 17 inch brand name flat screen monitor.

The cost of this system all together should never run over $1000 including tax. I'm currently using a 700 mhz laptop with 256 ram and 10 gb hard drive. My hard drive is running out of space, but 700 mhz and 256 ram is a-ok for now. If you have anything less than the following specs, I would recommend you consider buying a new computer.

Pentium 450 mhz
128 ram
10 gigabyte harddrive

Printer
Buy a laser printer for regular print jobs. Do not buy very cheap (under 50) ink-jet printers. They have inefficient cartridges, so it will cost you more in the long run to replace the ink. If you are using an ink-jet for your regular printing, you need to go out and buy a laser printer right now! :P Ink-jet printers cost a lot over time because of the need to replace the ink cartridges. A laser printer prints out quickly and toner is cheap compared to ink cartridges.

I would recommend buying an HP, Lexmark, or Brother laser printer. I am currently using a Brother HL-1240 laser printer and it works fine.

Affordable computer equipment - PCs, printers, network equipment
Too often, churches or missionaries may buy computer equipment from the local computer store (Circuit City, Office Max, mom and pop shop). The problem is that the prices available from these groups are typically a bit higher than you need to pay.

If you are involved in purchasing equipment for your organization, or are the in-house computer person and you really don't know that much about computers, I would advise you to make a short description of what you need, find a friend in your church that knows about computers and take 20 minutes to go over the list and see what they think.

The best deals available you can probably find on one of the following sites:
Tech Bargains or Fat Wallet. These two sites provide lists of deals online from coupons to discounts.

Honestly, you can find great deals consistently from www.dell.com From Dell, you can get a name brand solution at an affordable price. A lot of times they have deals where you can get a very good computer for under $800. From a recent deal, I was able to get priced a Pentium-4 2.0 gHz, 256 ram, 40 gb hard drive, MS Office, Windows XP, and a 15 inch LCD (yes, an LCD!) shipped for $724 dollars.

Really, don't buy a computer through a costly small computer consultant firm. They cost a lot! Tell them to compare their price with what you can get from Dell. This will force them to make their prices more reasonable. If it is perhaps only 5 or 10% more, that's ok. But if its more than 20% over Dell's price, you may want to consider Dell or find another company. If you are making a large multiple computer and printer purchase, you may also want to contact Dell or a large company (IBM or HP) to see if they can provide a custom solution for you.

I would recommend also not getting the 3-year warranty / care package if you know enough about how to fix your computer. If you aren't comfortable with fixing your computer / reinstalling the operating system, then maybe get a warranty. An alternative is some friend of your organization should be able to fix your computer for free.

Recommended Suppliers:
Dell - best deal for computers
Buy.com - consistently lower prices on various computer equipment. Check to see the prices consultants quote you compared to buy.com

Related Sites:
CNET - web site that provides reviews of different computer products and also price comparisons.
http://www.tsw.berkeley.edu/general/newcomputer_info.html - UC Berkeley's recommendations of system specs for students to buy.
Tech Bargains - Deals site
Fat Wallet - Deals site


Web Hosting

To get a presence on the internet you need a company to do web hosting. Competitive rates for simple web hosting (getting your own www.company.com name and the hard drive space to host your site) can cost around 10 dollars a month. Any company which charges over $25/month for its basic plan is too much.

You can check CNET on Web Hosting for more information on hosting.

Web Design

This is a tough one. There is an incredible varying amount of quality between different web site design companies - some consultant firms that do web sites can charge an exorbitant amount of money to design a site. Some hosting companies may offer pre-designed templates.

Furthermore, a problem in most web sites is that the pages are not optimized for high search engine rankings. The biggest problems usually entail either use of frames or a heavy splash page. Frames are really bad for search engines and a heavy, graphic-only front page is not good either.

I would recommend getting a volunteer team of good programmers (maybe students in your college group or maybe members of your club) and having them do your site.

I

Related Sites:
Higher Search Engine Rankings Tutorial


Web Services
There are many web services available to help you maintain email mailing lists, prayer lists, organize events, college group tabling, calendars and more. The two main best services I've seen are from Yahoo and MSN:

Both sites allow you to set up groups where members can sign up and be on a discussion email list whicheveryone can contribute to. This technology is good for missionaries that want to send prayer updates, fellowships that want to send annoucements, and college groups that are tabling on campus. There are different options such as only moderator can send email, members need to be approved, automatic email updates for event reminding (great for tabling!) and uploading documents.
Related Sites:
Yahoo Groups
MSN Groups


Free advice on management of web acceleration, search engine optimization, and recommendation of tools for churches and missionaries.

 

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Web Site Design
CPC Website Ministry FAQ

Computer Technology
Tech Soup

Edward Tsai has provided services for companies such as

Cisco Systems
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Extricity Software
Array Networks
Altigen Communications
UCLA

in

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Copyright September 2002 - Edward S. Tsai - All rights reserved.
Los Angeles, CA 90034 (Los Angeles Search Engine Optimization, Torrance, Westwood, Santa Monica)

Edward S. Tsai makes no claims about and is not responsible for the accuracy, appropriateness, or effectiveness of the advice given and products and services listed in this site. All information on this site is provided as-is with no guarantees. All trademarks are property of their respective companies.

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