14 Sep The Ultimate Guide to Free Online Tools for your Nonprofit
As a nonprofit agency, finances are often restricted. In certain instances, your spending budget is limited to paying employees, setting up for certain events, or hosting local ‘help’ events in the community. This limits your ability to spend on additional resources, which can help your nonprofit organization grow.
Although nonprofit, often referred to as ‘not-for-profit’ agencies don’t technically profit, it is impossible for any organization or company to remain open for business, without earning money. Therefore, non-profit companies must utilize the right resources, in order to grow, garner profits, pay their employees, and otherwise spend money, to help locals in their community, who rely upon their services.
In considering spending budgets, there are resources available for nonprofit organizations, which are low in cost; as a matter of fact, there are free resources nonprofits can utilize, to help their company grow! Before blowing your annual budget on devising a marketing campaign or building the ultimate advertising scheme, consider some of these resources available online for building your organization, and maintaining profits to reallocate into your local community.
Data visualization and reporting
Nonprofit agencies have to spread the word about their organization in some way or another. And, online newsletters, presentations, and documentation is a great way in which your organization can reach hundreds of thousands in any local community. A great visualization tool for nonprofit agencies to incorporate is Sway (sway.com). This free tool is provided through Microsoft Office, allowing your organization to develop newsletters, business presentations, create writing samples, and develop internal newsletters for your organization. It is easy to work with, well-developed, and creates visually appealing content you can easily share in your local community, with your online email list.
Batchgeo (https://batchgeo.com/) is another great resource. With both a free and paid version, you can easily integrate maps for campaigns you are hosting for your nonprofit organization. It allows you to integrate maps on different platforms (iPhone, iPad, Windows Mobile, Android). Maps allow your company to explore local sales leads, store business data, save donor information, and otherwise integrate a visual blueprint of locals in your area, which your nonprofit organization can tap into in the future. This resource helps you grow your list, reach out to local donors, and better integrate campaigns/messages to the right people in your local market.
Canva for nonprofits (https://about.canva.com/canva-for-nonprofits/) is a third great resource for visualization. Create infographics for an ebook, store stock photos, purchase stock photos for as low as $1, create designs, create ads, and integrate visualization tools on your online platforms, to reach your donors and audience. Visualization for your website is critical in creating an impact for your nonprofit organization. The more visually appealing the content, the greater the chances are you will reach the right audience, donor, and elicit the desired donations for your organization. With this tool, you can easily integrate design features and elements which stand out, for virtually no-cost each month.
All-in-one tools are a great way for you to manage your nonprofit organization in one place. Simple to use dashboards, easy to integrate features, and simplistic layout, helps any nonprofit organization easily manage resources, accounts, and nonprofit accounts.
Google Apps is one of the easiest, most widely used resources around, not only for nonprofit organizations but for anyone. At https://www.google.com/nonprofits/products/apps-for-nonprofits.html, nonprofit organizations can learn about the different tools available, which they can utilize, in order to manage their nonprofit organization, easily online. You can enable team collaboration online, rely on cloud-based software to share information quickly, use tools like Google calendar to manage events and functions, and connect from nearly anywhere in the world, you have an email and internet connection. For nonprofit organizations, you also get 30 GB of free storage space, to securely manage docs, spreadsheets, files, folders, and other organization-information online, which can only be shared/viewed, by those within the organization for optimal security.
Microsoft Office 365 is essential today. At https://products.office.com/en-us/nonprofit/office-365-nonprofit-plans-and-pricing?tab=1, a nonprofit organization can choose from donor-based accounts to options as low as $3/month to utilize Office tools in managing their nonprofit organization. Online security, easy online file sharing, storage solutions, presentations, integration tools, calendaring, and more. If you’ve ever used Office for work, or personal use, you are aware of the many great features in file sharing and creation. As a nonprofit organization, you are constantly drafting proposals, submitting bids, and reaching donors by writing proposals or letters. The low prices offered to nonprofit organizations for Office 365 allows them to easily integrate these products into their organization’s infrastructure, and reach more donors quickly and easily on and offline.
A nonprofit can’t survive if it doesn’t communicate with the right people. If you aren’t targeting the right donors, don’t know how to reach potential donors locally, or otherwise mismanage opportunities to connect with the right people, this can greatly hinder your nonprofit’s growth.
Hootsuite (https://hootsuite.com/en-sg/) is a great resource for communications with donors and locals in your area. You can integrate social media platforms, send out tweets, schedule Facebook messages, and otherwise share content, by pre-scheduling your social campaigns on the site. The site provides real-time analytics, allows you to integrate up to ten social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), and better manage accounts/donor information online. It is an all-in-one integrative communications platform, which helps you reach more people, better utilize time, and increase profits. Nonprofit organizations can apply for a 50% discount here: https://hootsuite.com/pages/landing/non-profit-discount-application.
On the same front as Hootsuite is MailChimp (https://mailchimp.com/). MailChimp allows you to target contacts with ads. It helps you build email campaigns and lists, retarget site visitors with specific ad content, streamline marketing, integrate Google marketing ads, include landing pages in messages, and otherwise develop a sound marketing and advertising campaign for your nonprofit. If nothing more, it is a great resource to help you manage email campaigns and lists, manage contacts, and better target the right donors, for specific campaigns you are promoting for your nonprofit organization. As a nonprofit, there is also a discount application available at https://blog.mailchimp.com/tag/nonprofits/.
Fundraising, Marketing (ads), and Productivity
It is the cornerstone of 99% of nonprofit organizations. If you aren’t raising funds locally and online, for the campaigns and causes your organizations to support, there is no way you will continue helping those in your community you desire to help. As a nonprofit organization, it is important to utilize the right fundraising campaigns, to better create campaigns, do so for a low price, and reach a broader audience, utilizing as small an amount from your annual budget as possible.
Foundation Directory Online (https://fconline.foundationcenter.org/) is a great resource to help your nonprofit organization create and find fundraising opportunities. Powerful search tools, a comprehensive database, research opportunities, and other tools are provided to nonprofit organizations, in an effort to help them develop fundraising events. The site has helped major nonprofit organizations including the Red Cross, Feeding America, and United Way. There are different plan options (including Pro, Enterprise, and Essential), based upon your nonprofit’s budget, and niche-targeting needs.
Production in any work environment is essential for your nonprofit organization to thrive. Relying on free or low-cost productivity tools is a great resource your company will benefit from. Doodle (https://doodle.com/) is one resource your nonprofit organization might benefit from. You can easily create polls for your members or volunteers to choose dates to host an event. You can decide on dates, places, locations, or meeting times. You can easily create online polls, with various options for people to choose from, which will allow your team to better implement and create fundraising events, host events, and help the local community.
Productivity also depends on time equity. If something needs to be fixed, worked on, or otherwise solved it could take you out of commission for a while. Use a service like AirTasker (https://www.airtasker.com) to get the everyday tasks for your organization handled so you can focus on the higher level stuff. They can handle everything from admin to painting and everything in between.
Of course, when setting up a fundraising campaign, it is important to properly utilize ad space to inform donors and locals in the community of ways in which they can help. Google offers a great resource for nonprofits, https://www.google.com/grants/, which allows them to receive up to $10,000 in grant assistance. Organizations will receive a set amount each month in Google Adwords, allowing them to easily target and create online ads, recruit volunteers, and attract donations, from various markets, and online avenues. Google offers over 20,000 grants to nonprofit organizations in over 50 countries. Applicants can determine their eligibility here https://www.google.com/grants/eligibility/, based upon the type of organization they run, their profits, and the type of campaigns they plan on running to help local communities in need.
Without properly targeting your fundraising campaigns, a nonprofit organization will never thrive, nor will it reach the appropriate target audience. For such reasons, it is important to utilize the proper tools to help develop fundraising events, know where to host them, how to target appropriate donors, and so forth. With Foundation Directory Online, and these marketing and productivity tools, a nonprofit organization has these integrative tools to work with an invaluable resource which will assist them in creating targeted fundraiser campaigns, which will actually garner some profits.
Hardware and Software
A nonprofit organization needs hardware and software to operate. It is impossible for any business to operate without the internet. Computers, software programs, accounting tools, printers, and other items are extremely costly. And, the larger the nonprofit organization becomes, the more of these resources and products they are going to require to continue to operate.
TechSoup (https://www.techsoup.org/) is a great organization which offers nonprofit organizations free or discounted pricing on the hardware and software they will need, in order to operate their organization. Intuit, Cisco, Google, AWS, Microsoft products, are a few of the featured companies which nonprofit organizations might qualify for a discount from when using TechSoup to help them build their offices in different markets. The company also offers tech support, IT support, communications assistance, call desk center support, and other resources, which the nonprofit organization requires to operate on a daily basis, in order to keep its doors open to the public. Educational and training resources are also available to nonprofit organizations, in addition to the donated hardware, software, and tools, which TechSoup offers to those organizations which qualify for their program.
Online security is a major concern for businesses – nonprofit organizations included. Whether a hacker wants to steal donor information, or your website is compromised after an online breach or attack, you want to know such information is protected and doesn’t get into the wrong hands. As a nonprofit organization, you want to safeguard your company, your donors, and those you are trying to help as an organization. With proper online security, not only can you better monitor your systems and servers, but also have added protection for email communications, file sharing, and other tasks which are completed online by your organization. The right security program will not only help protect servers and networks, but also safeguard the information which is provided to you by donors, and others, as it relates to fundraising, personal information and accounts, and account information your nonprofit organization stores online.
It is impossible to have an online presence without some form of online security tools. Avira is a great option for nonprofit organizations. At https://www.avira.com/en/for-business, nonprofit organizations may qualify for up to an 80% discount for online security and monitoring, as long as their nonprofit organization is in good standing. Secure networks, servers, internal spaces, email accounts, and client data all in one place.
Crowdfunding & Freelance Work
Crowdfunding is a great way for a nonprofit organization to elicit donations. As a matter of fact, it is easy to set up any campaign quickly and easily, write a blurb about your cause, and set a target donation goal for the fundraising you want to do online.
Supporter Wall (https://www.supporterwall.com/) is a great place to begin your online crowdfunding campaigns for your nonprofit organization. Supporters basically purchase squares on your fundraising board, and as squares fill up on the donor wall, the funds are directly funded to your nonprofit account.
Kiva is another great resource in the crowdsourcing realm for nonprofit organizations to rely upon. At https://www.kiva.org/ supporters can make micro-loans of as little as $25 to any organization or cause of their choosing. 100% of the donation goes to the field or organization which the micro-loan is intended for, you can set up nonprofit organizations for any category (women, education, healthcare, training, etc.), and micro-loans can be made to nonprofit organizations in 85 countries around the world.
Donations aren’t the only way your nonprofit organization can grow. What if you need to write a brief about an upcoming event? Or, if you want to create a design for a marketing campaign, but don’t have a design team readily available to use, you can rely on the help of other professionals. Fiverr (https://www.fiverr.com/) is a great website. For as little as $5, you can hire professionals who will do the work for you! Have content written, have a portfolio designed, have your website revamped, or host volunteer events by putting together a crew. The site allows you to set up a campaign, and people will bid on the work based upon the requirements you lay out in your brief. Quick, easy to use, and extremely affordable, for nonprofit organizations who aren’t inclined to spending thousands of dollars to have a design made for a marketing campaign they are laying out.
Crowdfunding is a great resource which nonprofit organizations should tap into. Not only does it allow you to spread your cause online, free of charge, and provides you with a free marketing platform for your organization, but there are many sites which offer nonprofit-specific funding campaigns, to help you better your cause, and increase the donations which are being made to your campaign. With these options listed above, the opportunity for donors to make micro, or smaller donation amounts, is also ideal for smaller nonprofit organizations, which are simply trying to attract donations from anyone in the local community, as opposed to major donations from larger corporations or partners.
Billing and Accounting
As detailed, nonprofit organizations must develop and stick to a budget. It is important to know how much the organization is earning from donations, campaigns, advertisement, online email campaigns, and other areas. It is also important to understand the spending budget. Paying employees, setting up campaigns, creating online ads, renting venue space, and so forth. Without the appropriate tools to manage the budget, and understand what is coming in (and going out), any nonprofit organization, like any for-profit business, is going to falter.
Billy (https://billyapp.com/) is a great online resource for nonprofit organizations which want to easily manage and track their budget, spending, and accounting. You can use this tool to see where spending is occurring, create monthly budgets, understand how much is being spent on campaigns, and have an online visualization of profits, losses, spending, and fundraising earning. You can bill clients directly, receive online payments, integrate accounting applications, send out invoices, and receive payments through various online payment systems. Although there is a full-priced version, nonprofits can apply for a 50% discount at https://billyapp.com/for-non-profits/.
Without properly allocating a budget, understanding spending, and understanding how much is coming in, versus how much is going out of your nonprofit’s accounts, it is impossible to properly grow, and continue to thrive and assist locals in your community. Utilizing the right accounting software and budgeting tools is a great resource any organization can benefit from, to maintain their budget, and fully understand how the nonprofit is functioning through the various events, networking, and fundraising events it hosts.
A board of directors is necessary for any company, and nonprofit organizations are no different. A board must include people who have the common goal or vision as the nonprofit organization. Those members should work towards contributing as much good as possible to the local community. They should have a primary focus on building the nonprofit organization, bolstering fundraising campaigns, and delivering as much assistance to the local community as possible. Therefore, in building a board of directors for a nonprofit, organizations can rely on different tools to help them find the right people.
BoardSource (https://boardsource.org/) is one organization which is specifically geared towards helping nonprofit organizations build their board of directors. It helps advance the nonprofit’s cause, it is intended to help organizations which require year-round support and intended to help strengthen the board’s mission. Schools, charter programs, educational, or healthcare foundations, are among the types of organizations which might benefit from a resource like BoardSource in building their board and maintaining the right members as well.
The Final Verdict
As a nonprofit organization, as is the case with any other business, you have to spend money in order to make money. But, most nonprofit organizations don’t have hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars at their discretion for spending, like many larger corporations have available to spend. However, there are hundreds of free and low-cost resources which are available for your nonprofit organization, which will help you further your cause, find the right people and resources, all while remaining under your monthly, quarterly, or annual spending budgets.
A nonprofit organization is intended to help the community and those who can’t do or afford certain things on their own. With this being said, like any business looking to grow, profits are a must for a nonprofit organization to keep its doors open.
These resources are invaluable for any nonprofit organization. They are easy to utilize, find, and can truly help a nonprofit organization grow, and better serve their community, without having to worry about how they are going to fund the projects, events, and fundraising campaigns, which they plan on hosting, to help those who rely on that nonprofit organization most.
Looking for some other great digital marketing tools to put in your toolbelt? Check out our blog here of our top ten.