Bringing Your Organization to Life
A business or organization is ready to begin operating with integrity and fully thriving when its leadership and internal team members understand the integral components of healthy, happy institutions; there is a commitment to celebrating diversity and ensuring accessibility and inclusion for all people; and when all of the basic components of the business or organization are fully in place as demonstrated by the completion of the Operations Manual/Business Plan and the Dash-Based Website.
Operations Manual/Business Plan
An Operations Manual (also known as a Business Plan) captures all of the main elements of the organization in a single document. Having this document completed demonstrates that you have all of your organization’s basic needs in place. A standard Operations Manual/Business Plan can be organized with the following outline:
✓ Core Beliefs
✓ Guiding Principles
Governance & Leadership
✓ Bylaws/Partner Agreement
✓ Board of Directors Job Descriptions
✓ Decision-Making Processes
✓ CEO/Executive Director Job Description
Operations & Administration
✓ General Administration Items (Name, Phone Number, Email, Address, Hours of
✓ Human Resources Plan
✓ Budget, Finance and Accounting Policies (Basic) + Articles of Incorporation, EIN, 501(c)3
✓ Fundraising, Revenue & Development Plan
✓ Marketing & Outreach Outline
✓ Media & Press
Programs, Products & Services
This manual is an important tool that can be used to keep your organization on the right track. As importantly, it can be tailored (i.e. by redacting bank account information) to meet various needs. These include:
- Introducing the organization to new board members, potential funders or investors;
- Providing an employee and/volunteer handbook, or used as an important tool in succession planning; or
- Preparing your submission for a 501(c)3 application (if applicable).
Let’s look at a sample here.
We’ll look at a blank template of the Operations Manual/Business Plan in the Build & Create Section. If you’ve finished all of the worksheets as you went through Organizing With Integrity, you already have everything you need. If needed, you can also view the worksheets in the Tool Box.
A Dash-Based Website (DBW) is more than just a website in the traditional marketing sense. It’s a complete tool for your entire organization. Whether it’s the CEO/Executive Director, board member, staff member, volunteer, client, customer, partner, donor or potential funder, all website visitors should be able to learn about and know the major ins and outs of the business or organization – and all of its programs, products and services – in just a few simple clicks. Generally speaking, a DBW follows a basic outline:
– Mission, Vision, Core Beliefs, Guiding Principles and Values
– Board/Partners/Advisory Committee & Bylaws
– Team Members & Employment or Volunteer Opportunities
Program Area 1
-Programs, Products & Services
Program Area 2
– Programs, Products & Services
Program Area 3
– Programs, Products & Services
Program Area 4
– Programs, Products & Services
– Phone, Email, Website, Address, Hours of Operations
However, a DBW can be built using any design styles or aesthetics. The most important thing is that it includes the general components as outlined above. Let’s view a sample so you can see the DBW’s information layout in action.
Choosing a Hosting Provider
A hosting provider allows your website to be displayed on the internet. Just like with any business dealing, it’s important find a hosting provider that aligns with your organization/business needs and values. Common priorities include customer service, cost, and usability. When it comes to useability, hosting providers that provide easy-to-use tools that don’t require any coding or previous website knowledge to build a website can also save businesses and organizations time and money.
We’ve been using InMotion Hosting for more than 15 years because they provide excellent customer service and offer 24/7 technical support for website novices (which is perfect for small businesses, groups and nonprofit organizations). That means you can call them in the middle of the night if you’re up late (or early) working on your creations. Most importantly, you don’t need to be a website expert. If you can use Word, WordPress, or a Google document, you can build your own website using their tools. If you don’t want to build your own website, they can build one for you at reasonable rates. We’ve included a link to InMotion Hosting in the main Tool Box. Even if you choose not to go with InMotion Hosting, it’s a great place to start so that you can compare them with other services.
Choosing a Domain
A domain (or website address) is how people find your website. There are many ways to purchase your domain, however, we recommend purchasing them directly through your hosting provider (the place where your website lives). This allows you to have just one bill, and they usually offer more streamlined protections and options for your domain renewal. They also usually have features that will allow you to search to make sure your desired domain name is available. As a reminder, be sure to consider how your domain name or abbreviations will appear as a website address, and how it sounds when you say it loud.
Information, Registration and Payment Collection Systems
One of the most important tools needed for websites is the ability to collect online payments and registration information. Here, it’s important to think about what information you need to collect, as well as how to make it seamless and easy for your customers and clients.
We came across JotForm in 2018, and have been recommending them to small businesses and nonprofit organizations since then. Once again, we were seeking customer service, cost and usability. We’ve found that if you spend about 15 minutes playing around, you’ll find the set-up is intuitive and easy to use. It provides an excellent payment gateway that connects directly to your PayPal, Square or other online payment solution, so you’ll receive your funds immediately. JotForm can also be used for surveys, event registration – and other tools – and they have HIPAA compliant programs available as well. Recently, they released an all-new App building program that lets you build and launch an app with no coding, and allows you to bypass the App stores altogether. Most importantly for us – You can build and use your forms and start receiving payments for FREE! When you start earning money, they ask you to pay a reasonable monthly subscription which you can downgrade or upgrade at any time. We think that’s an equitable business model and we haven’t found anything comparable on the market to date. Their link is also included in the main Tool Box for your review.
Build & Create
In this section, you can start building (or reviewing) your Operations Manual/Business Plan and your Dash-Based website to bring your business or organization fully to life! You can also use the Integrity Check and Knowledge Review to make sure you’ve gotten down the basics.
Step 1: Operations Manual
Review or complete the Operations Manual Template by copying and pasting the content from your worksheets or starting completely fresh.
Step 2: Website Management, Provider Selection & Domain
A) Review or decide which of the following most closely matches your current needs and capacity.
- I want to build and manage my own website.
- I want someone on my staff or team to build or manage my website.
- I want to hire someone outside of my organization to build and manage my website.
B) Once you’ve decided how you want your website to be managed, it’s time to select your provider.
- Write down or consider the most important things for your agency when seeking a provider
- Explore the options presented by InMotion Hosting
- Do additional research to find other providers
- Select your provider
C) Select and purchase your domain (URL).
NOTE: Once you’ve decided on your hosting provider and URL, you’ll also want to update your Operations Manual/Business Plan with any new information. Your Operations Manual/Business Plan should also be updated any time there are major changes to the structural elements of your organization (I.E. Fundraising Plan, Budget, Programs, Human Resources, Etc.)
Step 3: Dash-Based Website
Review, build and/or launch your Dash-Based Website (or delegate its completion to your staff, volunteers or 3rd party provider). Review or use the DBW Sample Template to guide your site’s structure and use the content from your Operations Manual/Business Plan to complete your site and make it live!
NOTE: If you choose a 3rd Party to create and manage your website, they might also recommend a hosting provider and way to purchase your URL.