Hi Meg – well done, looks like a model that has worked in Australia, and great that you are talking to the founder this week to get some valuable insights. See if you can get the founder to reflect back to the time they founded it, and what their learnings were and how many platform changes they have been through. It does not mean the exact same thing will happen here in NZ – but it will give you some guidance and direction.
Spending as little money as possible in the beginning when you are not sure what functionality will be valued is a good idea, especially as things always change once you hit the market – I would challenge you and the team to start with something free and limited functionality, get into the market with or two charities – what this will do also is give people a shop-window into what you are doing, and prove the demand, and that will enable you to pickup other charities and/or to support your bid to get the site sponsored by parties.
Also think about some of the ‘tech teams’ that exist in the charities – they maybe able to build the site for you?
Going back to Australia, ask them what functionality did they start with – as their site is pretty extensive now – do you need all of that now? Cheekily, would she give you / grant you access to the source code for NZ – would that make it easier? Maybe too much to start with, but an idea.
For me, try to keep it super simple, low cost and flexible and then learn – even use paper to start with, until you know what you actually need. Andy