Hosting for Good: It Gets Better

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With more than 800 million websites on WordPress alone, it should come as no surprise that some incredible organizations are using it to serve their communities. Here at Pressable, we are grateful for the opportunity to provide many of them with managed WordPress hosting.

Our “Hosting For Good” series aims to highlight some of these organizations that use technology to give back to the community. Their work is changing the world, and we’re excited to share their stories with you. We hope the series encourages you and inspires your work with WordPress and beyond. 

It Gets Better uses WordPress to save lives. It sounds dramatic, but not if you know the facts. 

Research shows that it takes just one supportive, identity-affirming adult in the life of an LGBTQ+ youth to make them less likely to complete suicide. Since this population is considered most at risk of suicide, it’s clear how an organization that connects LGBTQ+ youth with community is vital to helping people feel seen and understood and proactively saving lives.

An ‘Accidental Nonprofit’

The It Gets Better Project is an “accidental nonprofit,” said Ross von Metzke, the organization’s Director of Communications and PR. He said: 

“It launched as a viral video movement in response to a number of young people whose stories were being reported on in the media who had taken their own lives because they were queer, gay, or perceived to be and were enduring relentless bullying. 

Those first videos really were adults trying to reach young people and let them know that high school and middle school is sort of this temporary experience. And then when you get out there, and you find your community, and you find what your home is going to look like and what your life is going to look like, things get better. 

“A lot of folks really gravitated toward that. It became the first big nonprofit viral video movement on YouTube and evolved into the nonprofit that we’re in today.”

Where the project is today is a global preventative measure that focuses proactively on solving the major problem of feeling disenfranchised or alone as an LGBTQ+ youth.

“We’re really looking to get in front of kids before there’s a crisis — introducing them to community, introducing them to resources, educating them about language and labels and all of the potential good that is out there in this life for them, with the idea that you bolster these kids with information and community support early enough that they see overall improved mental health. They do better in school. They have better relationships with their family, be it their birth family or chosen family. 

“Certainly, there are kids who find themselves in crisis, and we’re incredibly grateful that there are resources out there available for them. But with us, we’re really trying to get in front of kids at the beginning of their journey so that they see this world of possibility early on.”

Using WordPress to Share Community

Today, It Gets Better fulfills its mission “to uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) youth around the globe.” The organization offers tools and resources for youth worldwide through a main WordPress website and sites hosted by affiliates in places like Mexico and the UK. 

The websites are invaluable because It Gets Better’s efforts are almost completely virtual, except for a few in-person events each year, von Metzke said:

“Our belief is always that if you don’t have a community of support in your school, in your neighborhood, in your family, that community exists in the digital space and we just are here to facilitate finding them. Our website is the hub for all that.”

The website houses tons of videos, including the entire library of Its Gets Better’s podcasts, where 20-something self-actualized LGBTQ+ hosts answer questions from the young people watching. It also hosts educational resources for download and gated content for the subscriber community to delve deeper into the conversation and resources.  

“It really has just become this central library of everything that is the It Gets Better Project,” von Metzke said. 

So, It Gets Better needs a content management system and managed WordPress hosting that helps them house lots of video without slowing down the site. They need the site to be fast while being interactive, with lots of moving parts delivering both public-facing and gated content. And they need to be able to track who is joining, downloading, viewing, etc., to help identify potential donors and validate their desire to contribute to the organization’s mission.

“The general consensus is that WordPress is the gold standard,” von Metzke said. “It’s just the easiest platform to work with. We wanted something that was fairly easy to update and maintain and that the staff could get their hands dirty without pulling down the entire thing.”

Building a Website for the Future — Now

The It Gets Better website undergoes regular updates and improvements, working to always fit the organization’s target audience of 13- to 18-year-olds. 

“We want that 14-year-old who’s looking for information and resources to come to our website and have it be designed for them,” von Metzke said.

He said reaching the right people on the site is critical to the organization’s mission.

“If you can remember being a teenager, no matter how you identify, it’s a very confusing, curious, sometimes daunting time, and your thoughts about who you are and what you want to be when you grow up and where you fit into the world are constantly evolving. And for LGBTQ+ youth, I think even more so. Finding resources, community, and language to see yourself validated and recognized is invaluable.”

Partnering for People

It Gets Better proactively identifies community for LGBTQ+ youth who may feel alone or without support. By providing human and digital resources, they help these young people better understand themselves, put language around their feelings, and connect with other people like them. And, in doing so, they are literally saving lives. 

As a fully-digital organization, It Gets Better couldn’t do its work without WordPress. 
At Pressable, we are proud allies who are grateful to get to play a role in supporting this organization’s work. If you’d like to support it too, visit their website and take the pledge today!

Jessica Frick

Jessica serves as the Director of Operations for Pressable and is dedicated to creating the best managed WordPress hosting experience possible. She’s been using WordPress since 2008, has been in WordPress-focused roles since 2010, and currently serves as one of the Make WordPress Hosting team reps. When she’s not working, you can find her spending time with her family, serving in her community, watching hilarious dog videos online, or brewing a pitcher of iced tea.

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