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Review: FireSpring

firespringAs much as we hate to admit it, the world is becoming increasingly materialistic. Society dictates what is popular and if a nonprofit doesn’t fit that mold, it will be an uphill struggle, despite its noble cause. Add that to the amount of nonprofits forging for donations, a charity has to constantly put their best foot forward. A website is a great way to gain audiences’ attention and this is where Nebraska-based company FireSpring hopes to come in. The company aims to help nonprofit organizations make their websites more aesthetically pleasing. Nebraska-based company, FireSpring is a great resource as it not only helps charities develop a website that engages their audience but it also offers tools and services such as email marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing to coincide with a nonprofit’s new website.

In Use:
FireSpring is a platform that offers “beautiful websites with essential tools for nonprofits”. The company caters to charities, helping them build engaging websites to increase traffic, donations, and a nonprofit’s overall Internet presence. Like popular web design websites such as Wordpress and Blogger, FireSpring gives customers seven pre-made layouts with an option to create a customized layout that’s exclusive to the nonprofit. This is a great option for medium to large nonprofits who can stand to spend a few extra dollars for this add-on. Start-ups or small charities may opt to save money by picking one of the layouts that the site already offers. Once the layout is decided upon, FireSpring will brand the new site with a charity’s colors, pictures, and logos. Once the site is published, nonprofits have the ability to add pages, and update text and pictures. They also have the ability to use the other tools available from FireSpring such as “fundraising bootcamp” and event registration.

Add-ons lets nonprofits see how well their website is doing with search engine optimization and search marketing or pay-per-click. If a website is not performing as well as a nonprofit hopes for, they can turn to their account team which is included in both the basic and premium packages.

When it comes to cost, FireSpring offers a few packages with additional add-ons. The basic plan is $89 a month and includes among other things an event calendar, unlimited fundraising campaigns, responsive design, site analytics and statistics and even a dedicated account team. Want to opt for the premium plan? A charity receives everything the basic plan offers plus email marketing, an integrated shopping cart, group management and event registration. Additional add-ons include custom design, color customization, social media services, and search engine optimization.

Technology Used:
FireSpring requires customers to have Internet access. It works with either Macs or PCs.  More technology may be required if using certain tools.

Ease of Use:
Like any new software, FireSpring will take a learning curve depending on what tools an organization decides to use. If an organization simply opts for web design, chances are they will catch on quickly.  The hardest part of any web design template is deciding which layout is use or which design will work best for the nonprofit. Once the template is picked, the charity will be prompted to pick colors, load logos, and upload text.  If a charity is not particularly tech savvy, FireSpring offers support in IT and customer service.

FireSpring allows nonprofits to design visually stunning websites with the option of adding on tools to enhance customer experience. From choosing layouts to customizing the website, FireSpring promises beautiful websites that will grab the attention of potential donors.

Nonprofits and charities can pick between two plans and numerous add-on options to help their website stand out in a sea of nonprofits.

  • Websites are responsive- so it will look great whether a potential donor views it from her cell phone, tablet or desktop.
  • While the price can seem daunting for start-ups who might not necessarily have $89 a month to spend on website design, many tools and services are included. Before a nonprofit decides against it, they could ask themselves if it could actually be saving them money.  Theoretically they will no longer have to pay for:
  • Site hosting
  • Site analytics and statistics
  • Integrated payment processing
  • A charity has its own account team that will help a nonprofit get the most out of Firespring.
  • There is an option for FireSpring to build a custom layout.
  • FireSpring is dedicated to nonprofit organizations. Founder and CEO Jay Wilkinson spent years working with nonprofits and thus has an understanding of the issues charities face.
  • If a charity is unsure whether or not they want to dole out the monthly fee, they can start with a free trial available on FireSpring’s website.

  • Disadvantages:
  • Smaller nonprofits can’t afford $89 a month regardless of all the bells and whistles the package offers.
  • There are only seven layouts that nonprofits can choose from. That’s hardly unique.
  • FireSpring boasts that customers will be able to customize their website in the nonprofits colors yet they charge extra for that.
  • Wordpress is more widely recognized. Other software that charities use may be more compatible with Wordpress or Blogger as opposed to FireSpring. For instance, if a charity uses QuickBooks there is a plugin for Wordpress to make it easier to take payment and bill customers.

  • My Opinion
    In far too many instances nonprofit organizations don’t have many options to choose from when it comes to the software they use. So I like the idea that nonprofits’ have a third option when it comes to web design. It’s also exciting to find a website design company that is dedicated to nonprofits. This more than likely means that they understand the struggles nonprofits face such as lack of money, resources, and time. Because of this they are better equipped to help them overcome these obstacles on a day-to-day basis.

    Although at first glance the packages are expensive, each package comes with many tools that could help the nonprofit succeed. Site analytics will help the charity understand their audience and see whose viewing their website. The fundraising bootcamp will give nonprofits valuable information to grab the attention of more donors. With the basic package, users are also able to launch fundraising campaigns and offer integrated payment processing. In my opinion when adding all of this up individually it comes to more than $89 a month.

    The reason why a lot of nonprofits and companies in general choose Wordpress is becomes of its familiarity, ease, and convenience. Wordpress offers numerous plugins to enhance user experiences, something they’ve been able to do because they’re so well known. I think a potential downfall of FireSpring is despite the many tools and services they offer, many customers may opt to stay with WordPress because it’s easier.  

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    Danielle Loughnane

    Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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