This is a fantastic article written by IDEAWARE by Laura Quinn. A website that helps nonprofits make good decisions.
Ah, it's the eternal question: how much should I expect to pay for a website? And how can I find out some answer other than "it depends" without actually building the sucker? It can be really difficult to define what communications approaches make sense for you when website costs appear to be all over the map.
Well, it does depend. If you want to hone in on a price, the best way is probably to get proposals from consultants or firms - not a fast process, but a pretty accurate one. But the general magnitude depends on factors that are knowable, so I thought I'd take a crack at defining what you could expect at each price level based on my experience. Note that this prices are approximate US market rate - so you might be able to find folks who will discount or volunteer for less, but these are what someone who's doing this full time might charge.
This is around the lowest market rate you're likely to find, and it won't buy you a lot. At this price, you might be able get an independent consultant, probably without a ton of experience, to whip out a 10-30 page static site, based on a templated graphic design and a very straightforward navigation scheme. You won't get something very branded to your organization, and you'll likely have to define precisely what you want up front, as this price wouldn't cover time to help you work through your needs to any substantial degree. You may well have trouble finding someone to work at this low end.
At this level, you could get a jack-of-all-website-trades independent consultant who makes a living building website to build a simple site tailored to your needs. It might cover a simple, custom graphic design, and potentially one or two simple features (like a simple event calendar). There still wouldn't be a lot of time for strategy or feature definition, but you could expect a bit more customer service from the consultant. Note that a jack-of-all-website-trades consultant is likely to be, as the aphorism says, a master of none. Top quality websites are typically designed and built by a team of people - perhaps a graphic designer, a navigation expert, a content specialist, a design implementer, and an serious programmer. A jack-of-all-trades isn't likely to be an expert in all of those things, so it will be important to see a portfolio to judge their skills in the areas important to you.
We're now getting into the realm of solid, scalable, strategic websites. It would cover an independent consultant, a team of consultants working together, or a small firm, in building a site on a solid infrastructure (like a content management system) with some strategically chosen features beyond simple text and images. It also might cover a very simple, basic site from a top consultant or firm - something very small but expertly crafted and designed. The budget would now cover some up-front help from the consultant in figuring out your needs.
A lot opens up in this price range. This could be a fairly sophisticated site from a small firm, or a straightforward site by one of the top firms in the country, with some substantial strategic guidance.
This is a solid budget for most large websites. Very sophisticated web applications or huge sites could certainly cost more (potentially much more!), but for $100,000 you could hire a top nonprofit internet consulting firm to create a robust site. At this level, your consultants can also help guide you through decision making, and shepherd decisions through internal politics and disputes - you're getting a strategic partner in addition to just someone to implement a site.