What Discussion Board options for a private non profit?

Hi folks. I’m in a Facebook group for folks that have a medical condition. We have grown to 20,000 members. The nature of the discussions is very private. Facebook is not the right platform for this. I’m doing research for the CEO of the non profit considering alternatives. Of course we have no budget for this, which is why she chose
Facebook years ago. Do you have any suggestions for an alternative? It’s an extremely active group. Thanks.

If you can find few hundred dollars a year, and are willing to administer a forum with more features than Facebook, Discourse is a great option. As you may know, this Mac Power Users forum migrated from a busy Facebook group to a Discourse forum a few years ago, and it’s flourished.

You can see a list of Discourse features here: Discourse features | Discourse - Civilized Discussion

You’ll have to host Discourse, but there are some solid options. For people on a budget without IT skills, I recommend looking at this hosting company that will keep your forum up to date and provide support: Discourse Hosting Plans and Pricing - Communiteq

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Can Discourse be kept sufficiently private?

SSL encryption and 2FA user management and various community management and moderation profiles should offer sufficient privacy, especially for people already willing to share their stories on Facebook.

The trust levels and roles are:

  1. New User

  2. Basic User

  3. Member

  4. Regular

  5. Leader

  6. Category Moderator (Moderate only a specific category, not the entire forum)

  7. Moderator (Moderate the forum, one does not have access in the site settings)

  8. Admin (Can do anything they want, access in site settings, more admin actions in posts, user profiles and more)

Read more here and here

Yes, in addition to what @simonsmark said, you can set all of the forum to only be visible to logged in members. You can also require approval before activating a registered user.

I’d highly recommend Discourse. It’s pretty easy to manage, and has privacy features built-in. You can even set up Sign in with Facebook to help people migrate over. You will not be able to export posts from Facebook to the forum (or indeed any forum), which is probably a good thing as you’d need permission from every person whose post or comment were being migrated. It’s also relatively easy to style to look the way you want, and there’s free official Discourse apps for iOS and Android (unlike several other solutions which integrate with Tapatalk—and that requires each member to pay to remove ads).

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Thank you all. I have presented your ideas to the admins and Discourse is looking promising. For others reading this thread, apparently there is a 50% discount for non profits (which we are).

Do you admins have any sort of vetting process for new members? Besides the trust levels? This group is female only with issues that are quite personal. We don’t allow men, simply because of the personal revelations of these vulnerable women. Right now our process is to go to the person’s Facebook page to determine if they are real (not a spammer) and female. Some board members are worried about losing this screening tool. I’m not convinced it would be an issue. I see the merit in asking, though.
Thanks again.