Unfortunately, non-profit’s have much to fear these days: a slump in the economy that translates to a downturn in donations; an ineffective social media program; an unscrupulous or ineffective board of directors; an apathetic staff or volunteer base; the list goes on and on.
However, when it comes to a website, there is one thing an NPO should never, ever be afraid of: that there’s a chance they will, for all intents and purposes, become locked out of their own site or domain. There are multiple scenarios that could lead to this situation, but consider this: your web designer or agency built your site on a proprietary content management system (CMS), which gives them (and hopefully you as well) control over your updates and online data via password logins: said designer or agency then goes out of business—or a relationship sours—and you’re unable to reach them; said designer is the sole holder of the aforementioned passwords needed to regain access and control of your site.
If this situation becomes a troubling reality, the remedies can be expensive and extremely time consuming: legal action may need to be initiated, a new web developer or manager enlisted to work on accessing the existing site, or, in the most extreme circumstances, your site may needed to be reconstructed from the ground up. All of this may inevitably lead to lost revenue from a donor base, severely compromised social media and outreach programs, an uncommunicative volunteer base and so much more.
However, this scary tale can be easily avoided if the proper steps are taken to ensure the principals of a non-profit organization have complete and unfettered access to their website, domain names and hosting platforms. Insist—indeed demand, in an iron-clad contract if necessary—that all passwords and login information be handed over to the director, IT professional or, preferably, to multiple (but thoroughly vetted) individuals who will each keep those passwords safe and secure, even if it’s anticipated that they’ll never be needed.
To be proactive in ensuring such a situation never becomes a reality, also consider this: hire a well-referenced website developer or agency with a stellar reputation, and have that ironclad contract clearly spell out the terms of the relationship and include provisions for password-sharing clauses regarding websites and domain names.