How to open and run a non-profit forum community without paying for a thing.

shellspeare

Uninteresting
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Feb 14, 2005
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5,162
shellspeare submitted a new Article:

How to open and run a non-profit forum community without paying for a thing.

How to open and run a non-profit forum community without paying for a thing. Stage one


Introduction
Browsing around The Admin Zone you will see a mix of forums. Some are huge, attached to profitable sites and some are just run as a hobby to bring friends together or to discuss certain themes and topics.
This article is aimed at the novice, the first time forum admin that knows little to nothing about html or managing a community. I aim to help the novice begin his/her own free forum by starting at the very beginning. You will notice there is no mention of html, scripting and the like, this, imo, is the next stage and it's absence is to ensure that new forum administrators won't be put off by technical issues.
Running a forum is extremly rewarding and us 'old hats' sometimes forget our roots when offering advice around the Admin Zone. Everyone has to start somewhere.
I hope this article will help the novice begin to understand what it takes to run a community and that it will give him/her that all important lift up the first rung of the ladder.

Getting started.
The first thing to do when thinking about opening a forum community is to decide upon a theme and content.

Some examples:
General community
community for film lovers
pet lovers
music lovers
reality tv
graphic design
extension of a blog
debate forum
humour forum
supernatural forum
anime
role play
and so on.

It should be something you enjoy as you will need to put alot of time and effort into it to make it work. There's way too many 'dead' message boards around where people have lost interest after a few days. You need to know from the start that you will only recieve what you have put in. Devotion and commitment are necessities.

Making a free non-profit community work is a struggle, because you have to strive at promoting it instead of paying for advertisments etc but with a good foundation such as, a theme, good design and layout, interesting content, imagination and commitment you are off to a good start.

You have the ideas, what next?

Now you have your ideas you need to decide upon the forum software that suits your tastes and requirements. There are lots of free message boards up for grabs, my advise is to have a play around, see which ones you prefer.

Things to look out for are:

*what type of ads does the software have (nobody likes pop ups)
*how much...
Read more about this article here...
 
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sinky911

Aspirant
Joined
Jul 17, 2007
Messages
13
Very good. I also suggest another good forum hosting site called myfreeforum.

It allows you to edit the template files, skins, upload small files, comes with some rank images and much more.

http://myfreeforum.org
 

Live2Die

Adherent
Joined
Jul 4, 2009
Messages
251
It's definitely an old thread, Thomas. ;)
It's pretty thorough though. I like how she included the links (at least the ones that aren't broken) and the steps towards running your forum. Nice job, Shell!
 

Shawn Gossman

Tazmanian Master
Joined
Dec 16, 2005
Messages
8,034
I don't understand how this can be a non-profit? Law requires non-profit orgs to register no matter what and it does cost money!

If your not a non-profit, dont EVER put on your site that you are or you may get to pay some pretty big fines!
 

Connect2Devs

Adherent
Joined
Apr 6, 2009
Messages
473
I agree with Shawn.

I've managed to open a forum with the only cost being the URL purchase. I've made it clear on my forum that we're not running adverts on the site, nor that we plan to in the immediate future, but I've not said we're running a non-profit site.
 

nat9655

Enthusiast
Joined
Nov 16, 2009
Messages
199
You can't really not pay nothing for a good forum. Even if you register with a free forum site which builds your site for free, you still need to buy the domain or your competition will say stuff like "look how poor you are, having a subdomain like [username].proboards.com".
 

HallofFamer

Habitué
Joined
Sep 6, 2010
Messages
1,332
Well not all free-forum hosting services should be considered here. Mybbnew and Phpbb3 are fine, since they allow you to pay for your database when you decide to migrate out of their hosting services as your forum grows larger. Proboard and Forumotion, on the other hand, prevents users from dumping database files so you should NEVER consider services like this. It is like killing your chance to run a potentially bigger forum, you will be stuck there forever.
 

opitkan

Aspirant
Joined
Sep 13, 2010
Messages
10
Great post! I just wish I would have read about this before I started to host my own forum using Proboards.
 

HallofFamer

Habitué
Joined
Sep 6, 2010
Messages
1,332
umm anyone still considering proboards? They suck hard and they do not allow database dump from users even if you pay(so typically, proboards is only good for small forums with about 100 members and 5000 posts maximum). Also they do not have visitor message system, cant believe why there are people who are interested in that pathetic service at all. Try Mybbnew or SMF free forum hosting services if you indeed cannot afford a paid service.
 

CrazyProgrammer

Aspirant
Joined
Dec 24, 2009
Messages
11
Nice thank you for the infor im thinking of setting up a charity forum soon for the floods in pakistan and the Torando in haiti which happend recently
 

Ashfaqk

Neophyte
Joined
Nov 9, 2010
Messages
7
thaaaanks a lot .. I was just wondering,.. is it possible to make a forum on wordpress or blogger.com ??
 

petertdavis

Not a Beginner
Joined
Feb 24, 2004
Messages
2,942
There are several forum plugins for Wordpress, but it would have to be a self-hosted Wordpress, not Wordpress.com, AFAIK they don't allow random plugins on Wordpress.com hosted blogs.
 

Phil_Tanny

Florida Nature Nut
Joined
May 10, 2010
Messages
552
I hope it's appropriate and helpful to add I've launched a free forum hosting service specifically for non-profits.

non-profit-forums.org

A successful project will probably require more than free hosting, so I've written a 120 page book entitled "Fund Your Non-Profit With Online Publishing". The book focuses on the key challenge of mobilizing volunteer supporters in to an effective online publishing team.

The book is free and may be redistributed by anybody in any medium so long as it's not edited.

Brief Bio: I'm a 59 year old University Of Florida grad (education), and have made my living online for the last 15 years. I'm a programmer and creator of the forum network software that is used to host the service.

I'm looking for opportunities to lend my time and skills to community service organizations who are doing good work, so I can add some additional meaning to my career. All services are free to non-profits.

Please feel free to pass my book, invitation and mini-resume along to your favorite community service organization. I'm here ready to help, and could use some assistance getting the word out. Many thanks.
 

Denzin

Aspirant
Joined
Jun 29, 2011
Messages
20
Several days old but i'm liking thesite posted by Phil_tanny, certainly interesting at least. And of course, interesting article posted, though it's pretty old so sorry for the bump on that matter.
 
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