I am planning to launch a new community as part of an NGO initiative.
Although I have a pretty good grasp of what people need to do, it would be really helpful to get some guidance or experience of how to set up a successful community. My guess is that just waiting for people to hear about it will not be adequate.

If there are say 20 hot tips for a new community builder what would they be?

Many thanks for your contribution,

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I am not sure what NGO is, but in my experience, the best way to do it is to advertise on google, if you would like to do it for free word of mouth I suppose can work pretty good. Also any sort of prizes/tournaments/etc... may make it interesting. Finally, I would suggest setting up a portal for your forum board, so it has a website feel to it. I've done it with a phpbb forum I ran and it was very successful.

Here is an article writen by Jacky regarding building a forum:

So You Want To Have A Forum
'Forum looks fun and I think I can do it.' Sounds familiar? Everyone have the aspirations to have a forum on their site and almost a high number of them failed due to the lack of foresight, planning and poor management.

While some lost just a couple of bucks using low cost hosting and free software, some lost quite a sum using the best software there is on the market. The list just goes on and on and before you know it, every forum looks the same with similar looking threads and designs. The below is just a short list of what to do before you start your boards. It may not be foolproof but listed according to what I have experienced.

Do Your Homework First

Check out as much boards that have similar interest in what you intend to start. A rule of the thumb, 'If you think you can do it better, go for it. While you're at it, check out the various discussions on your competitor's board and take note of what works and what's not in the board and improvise.

The next step is to choose your forum software. The market is currently full of these softwares and cater to various budgets. Make sure you choose a software that you're most likely to love and not a software just because it's cheap. If they have a forum of their own, do your homework on the Support Sections. From there you can more or less gauge the level of support.

Next is hosting. Try finding one that will not burn a hole in your pocket. A entry or basic entry level of shared hosting will suffice unless you already have a successful site and a forum is an addition to the site. A word of advice, while there are some hosts which will sponsor a hosting slot for your site in exchange of a banner, try getting information on the sponsor before you jump the gun. I learnt the hard way when a sponsor came in to host my site but it's lack of support and worse, it was hacked thrice with no backup at all ruined my 6 months of hardwork.

Opening Day

So everything is setup for your opening day and you thought you have it all covered. Opening game come and went but none came. Well, running a forum is similar to running a shop. Your shop can be the best in the block with the best stock money can buy but without advertisements of it's existence, who knows about it?

Some tips will be announcing them in boards that allow advertisements of sites, mailing your friends and families in your mailing list just to kickstart them. While the topic of your board may not interest those on your mailing list, they may have associates that may have a tinge of interest. At least someone knows.

So what's next?

The truth of a forum is it will not be successful in 1 day or some even after a year. Running a forum requires hardwork, preseverance and more hardwork. Learn thru trial and error. To be a good admin is easy but to be an admin which your members looks up to requires tact. Always be firm but approachable.

My Story
I started 4 forums since 1998 and only 1 is still running since 2003 The current one was hacked a couple of times using sponsored host which I now stay away from. Only this year was the site being revamped with a custom skin and it definitely makes the difference.

My advice to those who wished to start a forum, 'Don't give up. Even if you do and wants to start over, find something that is close to your heart or something that you know it's in your blood. With this in mind, I'm sure the passion in you will keep burning. The best doesn't mean it will be a success. Sucess doesn't mean it's the best.

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