Web Hosting for Nonprofit Organizations in 2018
Tutorial last revised: April 2018
This guide was built specifically for people who are trying to answer these questions and more! We realize that running a nonprofit isn’t easy, so we wanted to help take some of the guesswork out of choosing a web hosting company. As web design and development experts, we have a lot of great information to share with you!
Really quickly, before we get started: if you are kind enough to purchase hosting from a link in this tutorial, we might get a small kickback or commission. Rest assured, that doesn’t affect our recommendations as we only recommend hosts that we use ourselves and our standards are very high!
With that said, let’s dive into this tutorial on nonprofit web hosting so we can look at the best options and more!
Can You Get Free Web Hosting for Nonprofits—Does It Exist?
Can you actually get free web hosting if you’re running a nonprofit organization? The short answer is technically yes, you can get hosting at no cost, but the more accurate answer is that it’s not worth the trouble. Let us explain…
In the hosting world, things have become so cheap and commoditized that companies rarely give away free hosting anymore—and when they do, it’s generally not worth having. Most hosting companies that do offer free nonprofit hosting usually do so with some kind of catch, like giving you an extremely limited account or an account that doesn’t include tech support.
Here are some of the most common problems related to free hosting:
- Free hosting servers are often littered with spammy sites
- The free accounts typically given to nonprofits are extremely limited and include very little bandwidth
- These free accounts often don’t include support
- The hosting companies that offer free hosting for nonprofit organizations are frequently low quality companies that often vanish or shut down unexpectedly taking your files and website with them never to be heard from again
So, as you can see there are a lot of problems with free hosting. The only company that we’d even consider getting nonprofit hosting from for free is DreamHost, as they’re a mainstream hosting company with a good reputation. However, DreamHost’s web panel is very confusing and we don’t recommend them to anyone. So where does that leave you?
Honestly, it leaves you paying a little bit for hosting as the best and most hassle-free option. Think about it this way: where is your time best spent—on haggling and hassling with hosting companies to save a few dollars per month, or being focused on your nonprofit’s mission to make the world a better place?
We’ve partnered with Bluehost to offer $2.95/month hosting for nonprofits, which is very cheap and an excellent exclusive deal for Instructify visitors to help nonprofits with their causes. For less than $3/month, you can have access to an excellent, business-class web host. On top of that, you don’t have to waste your time trying to scrounge up a deal or locate free hosting somewhere.
The bottom line is this—while there may be some free web hosting options for nonprofits out there if you search far and wide, it’s simply not worth the hassle to save a few dollars a month to get a limited, shotty plan from an unreliable web host. The best course of action is to pay a few dollars per month and worry about more pressing issues! Hosting is so inexpensive nowadays that it isn’t even worth a second thought…
Recommended Nonprofit Web Hosting Companies
Listed below are a variety of our favorite providers for web hosts. We’ve broken these down into three different levels to give people some different options. We use all these hosts professionally on everything from small hobby blogs to big business websites. They are awesome hosting companies you can trust and they can also fit into a nonprofit budget too!
Best Option for Most Nonprofits: Bluehost
Bluehost is pretty much our favorite hosting company. They offer business class hosting at an extremely cheap price. They have great speed and reliability, and we use them all the time.
Best of all, they partnered with us to give nonprofits an exclusive pricing deal for only $2.95/month. That’s about as cheap as you’ll find anywhere for good quality hosting. They have great servers and are extremely reliable. You can go with Bluehost and then forget about your hosting—they’re that good!
Upgraded Option for Bigger Nonprofits: SiteGround
While Bluehost can handle just about anything a normal site can throw at them, if you need a premium host without the premium price, we usually recommend SiteGround. They have some exclusive features that make sites lightning fast and they have some of the best support in the game. We absolutely love SiteGround and have nothing bad to say about them! They cost about $3.95/month which is still very cheap and an amazing deal for all that you get.
Premium Option for Nonprofits Using WordPress: WP Engine
While you can host a nonprofit WordPress site on Bluehost or SiteGround with no problem at all (we do it all the time), WP Engine is the best of the best when it comes to WordPress. Their security, support, and backups are second to none because they only host WordPress sites. This comes at a little bit of a price premium as WP Engine costs about $29/month for their cheapest plan, but if you’ve got to have the best of the best they are well worth it.
Other Considerations When Looking for Nonprofit Web Hosting
To provide a little additional insight, we created a “commonly asked questions” section to help address questions that we see nonprofits asking about web hosting.
Does your nonprofit website receive a lot of traffic?
This is one of the first considerations when choosing a web hosting company, because you need to be sure that your server is well-equipped to handle the amount of visitors your website receives, otherwise you could end up with a slow website or a site that crashes due to a heavy visitor load.
For all but the largest nonprofits, a Bluehost plan should be good enough. This can typically handle up to 750+ visitors per day without much trouble, assuming that your visitors aren’t streaming any video or doing anything too intensive. If you get more visitors than that per day, you may want to look at a larger hosting plan with Bluehost or moving up to SiteGround or even a dedicated server.
Are you hosting WordPress or a static HTML site?
WordPress is the most popular platform to build a website on, and because of that a large percentage of new websites are created with it. If your nonprofit website runs on WordPress, then you’ll want to make sure you choose a hosting company that can handle a WordPress site. Bluehost, SiteGround and WP Engine are all excellent with respect to WordPress, so you can’t go wrong there—and for most people, Bluehost will be enough. And of course, if you want the best that money can buy, then WP Engine is probably the best choice, but they may be overkill for most nonprofit web hosting scenarios.
When it comes to static HTML websites (which aren’t that common anymore), both Bluehost and SiteGround are excellent options. In this situation, WP Engine is out because they only host WordPress websites.
Do you plan on sending emails from your website?
If you plan on having emails associated with your domain name (firstname.lastname@example.org, etc.), then you’ll need to make sure that your hosting plan offers email hosting as well. Both Bluehost and SiteGround offer email hosting that’s included with their regular hosting packages. WP Engine does not offer email hosting for nonprofit organizations, so you’d need to purchase that separately.
If you’re looking for a separate email hosting company for nonprofit organizations, we recommend Amazon WorkMail. It’s simply, extremely cheap, and pretty easy to set up. However, the easiest thing to do is just to choose a web host that includes email hosting as part of their regular packages.
Are there any other hosting options that aren’t covered here?
Of course there are other options, but as professional web developers who have used almost every web hosting company out there from mom and pop operations to large global hosting companies, we strongly believe that these are the best options for hosting a nonprofit website.
If you choose any of these hosts, you won’t have to spend time worrying about whether you have good support, whether your site is offline because of low quality server, or anything like that. Sure, they aren’t free—but they are very inexpensive and the peace of mind is well worth the little bit of money you’ll spend.
What’s the cheapest you can get nonprofit web hosting for?
Honestly, $2.95/month with our exclusive Bluehost nonprofit deal is the lowest that we would go. Technically, if you’re extremely tech savvy and you only have a simple page you can host a single static page in an Amazon cloud bucket for $.50 cents per month, but this is extremely limited.
Microsoft Azure also offers Nonprofit cloud services for free, but Azure is an extremely technical platform that requires quite a bit of experience to use—even our seasoned web developers have trouble figuring it out sometimes. On top of that, they don’t offer any support, so if you need help, you’re stuck!
All in all, hosting has become so inexpensive that it’s simply not worth the hassle to a) spend a considerable amount of time searching for free or low cost hosting, and b) deal with the limitations and low quality that come with free hosting accounts. For $2.95/month, you can access business-quality hosting and focus on fulfilling your nonprofit’s mission instead of dealing with buggy web hosting!