A website can be invaluable for making a good first impression, especially for non-profits that rely on donations, fund-raising and volunteer hours from a mostly Internet-savvy public.
However, the cost of adequately maintaining one can be straining on an already tight budget, often leaving these community-oriented organizations behind the times and short of dollars.
Tony and Connie Finneman have worked to reverse this pattern ever since the couple launched OneEach Technologies in 1999 . Their Mesa-based website provider and content management company assists non-profits in establishing and updating their sites at a fraction of the cost and exertion required with traditional providers.
OneEach’s clients pay less than $2,000 a year for custom websites, a fee that includes unlimited support, rebranding and any updating – a common problem for non-profits, Tony said.
“We don’t just hand them a website. We continually help manage that site and help them generate funding from that medium,” he said.
Medium to large-sized non-profits can pay $50,000 or more, depending on the complexity of the website, just for the custom website without follow-up support, said Carrie Morgan, Phoenix-based consultant, digital strategist and author of “Above the Noise: Creating Trust, Value & Reputation Online Using Basic Digital PR.”
Currently, OneEach has nearly 700 clients in 13 countries, Tony said. In its first year, the company had about 25. There is a 95 percent renewal rate. The large volume makes it possible to keep prices affordable, he said.
“We built the business from this model where everything is done to be as efficient as possible, which allows us to keep costs down,” Tony said.
By the time they started OneEach, the Finnemans, who have been married for 27 years, had already been running a successful web-based marketing business, which is in its 25th year of operation. It generates revenue that gives them freedom to operate OneEach without worrying too much about budgets.
“This allows us to make a living while doing something to help other people. Money is not the motivator. I’m motivated to be successful if I feel like I’m making a difference,” Connie said.
How an idea became a business
The Washington state natives were living in Vancouver where Connie was on the board of a local Red Cross chapter that was looking to get into online fundraising. The chapter’s once free website hadn’t been updated in a while and doing so was difficult and pricey. No one wanted to visit it, let alone purchase any of the fund-raising items being sold on it.
This sparked the idea to create an affordable website that would be easy for a nonprofit to update in-house without having to call in a tech. This is where, Tony said, the light bulb went on.
With the help of a local technical high school, the Finnemans developed a content management system that would accomplish this. Within a couple of years, they were working with 100 local chapters across the country that had the ability to engage with a technology-driven generation.
“It evolved very quickly. We hit on an issue. It solved a problem,” Tony said.
About 10 years ago, Tony approached United Way’s East Coast chapters in hopes of spreading the model. United Way was undergoing a rebranding and OneEach developed a new website based on it. Within two years, about 200 local United Way chapters were clients. OneEach remains the only preferred website vendor for United Way Worldwide with more than 400 websites in 10 countries under its charge.
For six years, Keisha Frost, the director of community giving and marketing for United Way of Santa Cruz, has worked with OneEach, which provided a new website that incorporated custom pages for business partners that facilitated contributions and gives the public access to information about events and to register for them.
OneEach recently added an application service. The Santa Cruz, Calif., chapter was OneEach’s first app customer. It utilizes a texting option that has eliminated much of traditional hard copy forms. Frost said the reduction of paper and mailing costs along with staff time has saved her $3,000 in annual marketing costs.
“They are so innovative, so creative. They have the ability to make their customers feel just as innovative when it comes to technology,” said Frost, who feels empowered to maintain her website even though she has no technical background. “They understand the United Way brand but allow the individuality of each chapter.”
Meals on Wheels of Texoma executive director Greg Pittman was referred to OneEach by United Way five years ago. At the time, Pittman was using a template-based website that was static, unsophisticated and lacked the flexibility for features or custom code.
Pittman, whose previous career was with Microsoft, sought a feature-rich platform that was inviting, particularly to the younger generation. OneEach had the answers and equipped them with interactive pages and donation platform. Pittman said he likes the all-inclusive basic rate. Most companies follow an a la carte system that gets expensive.
“I was accustomed to companies selling software with no support on the back end. I was completely unprepared for the level of support from OneEach. They’ll hold your hand through the process,” said Pittman, who’s based in Denison, Tex. “I’ve been on the phone with them for an hour as they’ve painstakingly walked me through. That they do that alone is amazing, let alone not charge me for it.”
The Finnemans moved to Arizona in 2004, after their youngest daughter graduated from high school. The empty nesters wanted to live in a warmer climate and their virtual marketing business allowed them to pick up and relocate with ease. Today, their children and grandchildren call the Valley home.
Nearly all of OneEach’s staff members have nonprofit experience, ranging from volunteer board members to executive directors.
“It’s important to have people who understand how the nonprofit world works because it’s very different from the business world,” Connie said.
Every piece of positive feedback from worldwide non-profits that are able to do their work thanks to OneEach fuels the Finnemans’ efforts.
“Things may get challenging but at the end of the day we are helping them to help others. Every day is rewarding in that regard,” Tony said.