Posted: November 13, 2006
Key points to remember:
PayPal has made it easy for you to offer memberships, accept donations and even sell products via your Web site. Users can pay with major credit cards or with a PayPal account.
A PayPal Merchant Account is free for you. There are no contracts and no long-term obligations. You are charged 2.9% plus $.30 for each transaction. For example, if a users makes an online donation of $100, you would be assessed a fee of $3.20.
To get started, follow the basic instructions below. PayPal offers extensive online demos and instructions if you need additional assistance.
To accept online donations: click the “Donations” link and enter the necessary information.
To offer memberships:click “Buy Now Buttons” and enter the necessary information. If you offer different levels of membership, you will need to create a separate “Buy Now” button for each level. This method can also be used for selling products.
To sell products: click “Pay Pal Shopping Cart” and enter the necessary information for each product. You can also use the “Buy Now” option above for products. The shopping cart method is recommended if you have a large number of products.
How to add your PayPal buttons to your microsite:
What happens when a user clicks your PayPal button?
Once the page with your PayPal button has been created, users will click it to complete their transactions. The button will link users to a checkout page on the PayPal Web site where they will enter their contact information and payment information. PayPal will verify the payment and transfer the funds to your bank account, less PayPal’s fees. You will receive notice of the transaction via e-mail, and the user will also receive confirmation via e-mail. Information about all transactions will be available via reports in the My Account section of the PayPal site.
You will then want to follow up on the transaction. For donations, you will want to send a letter of acknowledgement. For memberships, you will want to enter the member into your membership records. For product purchases, you will need to ship the product.
Once you have enabled online transactions, you want to be sure to get the word out to your mailing list.
Auctionpay is another service you may wish to consider. In addition to online payments for donations and membership, it also offers online event registration. It does not support product sales, however. NAMI North Carolina currently uses Auctionpay. For more information, visit www.auctionpay.com
There are several free or low cost options that can help you manage e-mail lists and send broadcast e-mails.
Any NAMI member may use this system for free to create and manage e-mail lists.
This system differs somewhat from the other options below in that you have the ability to allow members of a mail group to send e-mails to the whole group. For instance, let’s suppose you set up a mail group for your board of directors called firstname.lastname@example.org, and each member of your board was set up to receive messages sent to that e-mail address. You could either allow any member of the group to automatically have access to send messages to that address, thereby e-mailing all members of your board at once, or you could restrict it so that an administrator would need to approve any message sent to the group prior to it going to all members.
While the mail group system is comparatively easy to use, like the microsite system it is still a complex piece of software, and the documentation should be carefully examined before mail groups are set up. Fortunately, there is extensive documentation and help resources available online.
Constant Contact is an online service for managing mailing lists and sending broadcast e-mails. If your list is fewer than 50 people, you may use the service for free. For lists of 50 people or more, pricing begins at $15 per month but non-profit discounts are available.
Constant Contact boasts having over 75,000 customers including businesses and non-profits alike. Several NAMI organizations already use Constant Contact, particularly for NAMIWALKS, including Massachusetts, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, Kansas, and Oregon.
Like Constant Contact, MailChimp is an online platform for broadcast e-mail. It shares many of the same features as Constant Contact, but there are some key differences.
How can I add Web site visitors to my mailing list?
NAMI’s online Legislative Action Center makes it easy for NAMI supporters to learn more about public policy issues and contact their representatives.
You can also harness the power of this system for state-level advocacy. Here’s how:
NAMI's Legislative Action Center is powered by Capitol Advantage's CapWiz software. Captiol Advantage also offers a service on their Congress.org Web site called Soapbox alerts, which is comparable in many ways and puts you in complete control.
With Soapbox alerts, you:
The cost is $8.95 to run a single Soapbox alert for 30 days.
Often, you may find yourself wanting to collect information or input from your Web site visitors. One simple way to do this is to pose your questions and ask your site visitors to reply via e-mail with their responses.
Another more powerful and sophisticated way is to build online forms that allow your visitors to respond directly online and allow you to analyze and report on their responses.
For this task, we recommend yet another online service named for a primate: SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com).
As its name implies, SurveyMonkey is a tool for conducting online surveys (of humans). It provides a simple and intuitive interface and lets you pose questions in the full spectrum of formats (true/false, multiple choice, rankings, short and long response, etc.) and then analyze and report on the results.
But the same elements needed to build an online survey can just as easily be used to build any type of online form—registration forms, story banks, quizzes, even membership applications. If you need a way to collect information from your Web site visitors or members, SurveyMonkey can pretty much handle it.
A basic subscription to SurveyMonkey is free. You can create as many surveys as you like, however you are limited to a total of 10 questions and 100 responses per survey. A professional subscription is $19.95 per month, and allows surveys of unlimited length and 1,000 responses per month. There are no long-term contracts and you can cancel at any time, so you can simply pay your fee and use it when you need it. If you pay yearly for the service, the cost is only $200 and they offer a 25% non-profit discount on top of that.
Once you have your image, you will likely need to edit it to make it fit on your Web page. Keep in mind two basic facts when preparing images for your microsite:
There are numerous options for editing images, from free or low-cost, to very high-end:
So, you've got some photos from your convention or Walk that you want to put on your Web site? You could build your own photo album in your microsite. But you may find it easier and more beneficial to create your photo album elsewhere on the Web and simply link to it from your microsite. Again, there are lots of ways to do this for free, and they offer certain advantages:
More robust upload tools: With the microsite Image Manger, you have to upload one image at a time. With other tools you can upload multiple images simultaneously
Automatic thumbnail creation: The most user-friendly way to create an online photo album is to create a page of thumbnail images that users can then click to view the full image. Using the microsite Image Manager, you would need to upload each image twice – once at thumbnail size and once at full size. You would also have to create a separate Web page for each full size image. All in all, it is quite time consuming. But with these other tools, thumbnail and full size pages are created automatically.
Print ordering: If you think users may want to order prints of your photos, most of these online tools will allow them to order prints directly.
The File Upload feature of microsites makes it easy to share all kinds of files: documents, spreadsheets, presentations, even audio and video.
Here are some tips when working with files:
A commonly asked question is whether files that you post online should be converted to PDF. The answer depends on one basic question: do you want to give users the ability to edit or modify your document? If the answer is "yes", then you do not want to post it as a PDF. If the answer is "no", then PDF is the way to go. And if the answer is "It doesn't matter", then PDF is preferable because everyone has the ability to read PDF, unlike Word documents for instance, which require that the user have Microsoft Word installed.
The good news is that you can now create PDF files for free, from anywhere you have an internet connection. Just visit www.PDFonline.com. Once there, you simply upload your document to their site, enter your e-mail address, and in a few minutes an e-mail will arrive with your PDF attached.
Posting files to your microsite is an easy way to share them with others. But sometimes you may want to share files without first posting them to your site. For instance, you may want to send or receive graphic files from a graphic designer. Unlike a traditional Web hosting arrangement, microsites do not include FTP capability. But there are a couple of free options available to you:
Using the File Upload feature of microsites, you can upload Web-ready audio (.mp3) and video (.mpg, .wmv) to your microsite. Keep in mind that these files can be quite large, though. If you are planning on uploading very large files, especially on a regular basis, please let us know first at email@example.com so we can manage available space accordingly.
As alternatives, you can use the file transfer options above. Or, if you have video, a great option is to post your video at Google Video (www.google.com/video) and link to it from your microsite.
Blogs (or "Web logs") are an increasingly popular way to communicate online. They are essentially a running online journal, where each new post appears above the post before it, in a chronological list.
You could basically replicate the look of a blog on your microsite, by creating a page that you add new information to on a regular basis. However, a true blog requires using blog software, which automatically archives older posts and allows for user feedback on each post.
Fortunately, there is Blogger (www.blogger.com), which is free blog software, including hosting, from the folks at Google. Blogger is very user-friendly and makes it easy to get a blog up-and-running.
If you create a blog in Blogger (or similar site), you would then just need to create a link to it from your microsite.
A couple of points to keep in mind about blogging:
Have an idea for something that should be included in this guide -- either a topic area or a tool you've found effective? Let us know! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org