Thursday, August 2, 2012

Web Hosting is NOT Your Biggest Cost

A church website hosting company recently posted an article stating that web hosting is the biggest cost of a church website. It became clear that they were promoting their own services when I saw the following list:

Take these example costs from a variety of church website providers. The number you see is the monthly cost.
  • $49-$119
  • $54-109.95
  • Clover sites: $20
  • $99-299
  • $59.95
  • Sharefaith: $14.99 (Best Value)

My first thought when I saw this list was that these are annual costs because my own church is paying about $80 a year for web hosting and I know there are other hosting companies that have even more economical rates, if you are really looking for the lowest price. But these are monthly rates and that means that Sharefaith is charging more than twice as much as you really need to pay. Even so, $180 a year isn’t really that bad if you’re putting the website to good use. But is that really your biggest cost? It may well be if you use the $3,588 a year figure given for, but it doesn’t seem like it should be.

While I’m not saying that we must spend more it strikes me as being like buying someone a birthday gift and spending more for wrapping paper than for the gift itself. Hosting a website is a necessary service and a valuable service, but if webhosting is your biggest investment, I wonder about the value of what you’re putting on the web.

Don’t Forget the Volunteers

One problem I see with churches is that they forget the value of volunteer labor because it doesn’t show up on their financial report. This is a shame because many church members give more to the church through their labor than they put in the offering plate. Suppose the church webmaster donates an average of eight hours of time each week. If you were paying him $25 an hour, that would be $200 a week, or $10,400 a year. Even at $7.25 an hour, it works out to be $3,016 a year. That’s a little less than the $3,588 figure from above, but webmasters are paid closer to the $25 an hour rate than they are to minimum wage.

The Cost of Royalties

The other thing to consider is the cost of the content that you place on the website. Some churches like to post video recordings of their worship services on their websites. We won’t count what you’re paying the pastor, since he would get paid whether you post the video or not. What we must consider, however, is the cost of the music and other copyrighted material that is included in the video. My understanding is that CCLI doesn’t apply to posting video online. Even if it did, CCLI only applies if the number of copies is less than a given percentage of the congregation size. And a lot of music doesn’t fall under CCLI at all. So, if you want to post video legally, you’ve got to get copy permission for the music used and you’ve got to pay the fees. That also means more volunteer time.

Add it all up and you quickly see that web hosting is not your biggest cost. In fact, the amount you spend on webhosting is a minor concern when we look at other costs.

What other things might cost you more than web hosting?