NAMI Microsite Resource Guide
A guide to online resources for enhancing your NAMI microsite
Posted: November 13, 2006
Key points to remember:
- NAMI National is providing these recommendations based on a good faith evaluation of each online service. However, we can make no guarantees that these services will function as described below, or that these will be the best solutions for you. You are advised to use your own judgment before using any of these services.
- The information provided below is believed to be accurate as of the date on this page.
- NAMI National cannot provide technical assistance with these services beyond the information provide below. If you need additional help, please contact customer support for the particular service.
Online Transactions: PayPal
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.
- Visit www.paypal.com
- Sign up for a PayPal account. You will want to choose the “Business Account” option. In the process, you will enter the contact information for your organization and your organization’s bank account number where funds received will be deposited. You will also need an e-mail address where notifications of transactions will be sent.
- Once your account has been established, sign in and visit the “Merchant Services” section.
- In the "PayPal Website Payments Standard" section, in the “Key Features” box, are the options you will use for creating your transaction links.
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.
- In each case, once you have created your transaction button on PayPal, you will be presented with HTML code which you will then need to copy and paste into a page on your microsite.
How to add your PayPal buttons to your microsite:
- Follow the steps in the Microsite User Guide for creating a new page on your microsite (or modify an existing page). You may wish to title the page to match the transaction type (Donation, Join, Store, etc.)
- On the Content Properties screen, under “HTML Content,” click “Create New” (or use the Ektron icon if you are modifying an existing page).
- Within the Ektron editor, toggle to the HTML code view of your page (see illustration).
- Place your cursor in the page and paste the HTML code for your transaction button that you copied from the PayPal site.
- Toggle back to the WYSIWYG view of your page. You will now see your button displayed. You can now add instructions about how to make donations, how to join, product descriptions, etc.
- When done, save and publish your page to your site.
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.
Another Option: Auctionpay
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
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Sending Mass E-mail
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.
- Ability to set up multiple groups and assign multiple persons to administer your group.
- Allow people to automatically subscribe and unsubcribe themselves from your group
- A searchable Web-based archive of all messages
- A shared files areas for posting common documents for your group
- Ability to send messages via your own e-mail account, or a Web-based form
- Ability to keep track of undeliverable messages (“bounces”)
- Supports HTML-formatted messages
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.
- Wizard interface for setting up and sending your messages
- Access to more than 100 professional HTML e-mail templates
- Easy import of existing email addresses or lists
- Ability to set up multiple lists based on user interests (education, policy, etc.)
- Customizable visitor sign-up for your Web site
- Ability to trackhow many e-mails were delivered and opened, and who opened each e-mail and who clicked through
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.
- Pricing: whereas the pricing in Constant Contact is based on your total list size, with Mail Chimp you pay based on how many e-mails you actually send. For example, if you had a list of 100 e-mail addresses that you mailed to once per month, with Constant Contact your yearly cost would be $126 after the non-profit discount. But with MailChimp, your yearly cost would be only $36.
- Fewer templates: MailChimp’s slogan is “You design. Me send.” Accordingly, it is more oriented to people who want to design their own message templates, though it does have sample templates available.
How can I add Web site visitors to my mailing list?
- If using the NAMI Mailgroups system, you can place an e-mail link (mailto:) on your Web site that, when clicked, will open up a “subscribe request” message in the user’s e-mail program. When the user sends an e-mail to this address, you can either have them automatically added to your list, or require administrator approval prior to being added.
- Both Constant Contact and MailChimp allow you to create Web-based forms that users can fill out to be added to your list.
- You can also provide a basic e-mail link on your site and request that people who want to join your list simply send you their contact information via e-mail
- Remember to promote your Web site and e-mail lists every chance you get – on your stationery, business cards, and voice mail; at meetings; and in all print materials.
- Finally, remember, never send e-mail to anyone who has not given you permission to do so, and always provide a clear method for people to be removed from your list. Just say no to spam! It's not just a good business practice, it's the law.
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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:
- www.nami.org/advocacy. Explore both the “Congress and President” section and the “State Officials” section.
- Use your Web site and e-mail list to communicate with your supporters about current policy issues.
- Be as clear and concise as possible about what the issues are and what your supporters can do to make a difference.
- Provide a link to NAMI National’s Legislative Action Center (www.nami.org/advocacy) and instructions as to whether they should contact their federal or state representatives.
- Provide sample talking points or a sample letter on your microsite. Let users know that they can highlight the text on the screen with their mouse and copy it for use in the Legislative Action Center.
- Finally, remind users that in order to make their advocacy more effective, they should a) share personally about why this issue matters to them, and b) be specific about exactly what it is they would like their representative to do.
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:
- Post your issue to the Congress.org Web site
- Choose which level of government you want users to respond to
- E-mail an alert to others, with a link back to your posting
- Track how many times your issue was viewed, and how many letter were sent
The cost is $8.95 to run a single Soapbox alert for 30 days.
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Online Surveys and Forms: SurveyMonkey
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.
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Graphics and Photos
Sources of graphics and images:
- Free images: a search of the Web offers a tempting source of images. But beware. Just because it is technically possible to grab an image from the Web does not mean it is legal. You should never use an image on your Web site unless you have obtained permission from the source, or you are positive it is in the public domain (and most images are not).
- Packaged software: a trip to your local Best Buy or Office Depot or a click over to Amazon.com using this link will present you with lots of (legal) options for graphics, photos and art on CD-ROM. Most packages are between $20 and $50.
- Online subscriptions: Photos To Go offers subscriptions for access to tens of thousands of photos and images online, in a searchable format. Subscriptions begin at $99/year (www.photostogo.com)
Working with images
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:
- The image resolution should be 72 ppi (pixels per inch).
- The maximum image width is 550 pixels.
There are numerous options for editing images, from free or low-cost, to very high-end:
- Free: Google Picasa (http://picasa.google.com) is a free program you can download that lets you organize and edit photos and images. It is similar to Apple's iPhoto and software that comes with digital cameras.
- Low cost: One of the best low-cost programs for editing photos, as well as creating graphics is Corel's Paint Shop Pro. It can do most of the same things as Adobe Photoshop, at a much lower price (around $100). Learn more at www.corel.com.
- High-end: The reigning champ of image editing is still Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop has every feature you could ever want, but it comes with a price tag – around $650. It also comes with a pretty steep learning curve. Unless you are very tech and design savvy (or want to become so), you would do better choosing another option.
Creating Online Photo Albums:
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.
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Working Different File Types
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:
To PDF or not to PDF?
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.
Moving Files Around
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:
- YouSendIt.com (www.yousendit.com): allows you to e-mail files up to 100 MB in size to multiple recipients. This can be useful if your own e-mail system put limits on the size of files you can send.
- SaveFile.com (www.savefile.com): allows you to upload files up to 60 MB to their Web site and then gives you a link that others can use to download the file. This is essentially free FTP, and is useful when your intended recipient cannot receive large files via e-mail. You can also place the link on your microsite.
Audio and Video:
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.
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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:
- The best blogs have an individual voice and represent a personal point of view, for example, that of your executive director, program director or Walk manager.
- If you build it they will come – but they won't keep coming unless you keep it fresh. Create a regular schedule for updating your blog, and stick to it. Even saying something brief is better than nothing at all.
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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