For organizations large and small, and for nonprofit professionals who wear many hats, we are now living in a time where having a few handy tools in your utility belt can go a long way in making the organization better. From marketing to project management, there are probably thousands of tools nonprofits could use to improve their efficiency.
Here’s a list breaking down seven of the best free and paid software nonprofits should consider trying out right away.
1) Google for Nonprofits
Sometimes, it just so happens that the best tools out there are mostly free or have a very low cost. Rather than a single tool, Google has a whole suite of tools that nonprofits can use that’s all bundled together under Google for Nonprofits.
The first place to start with Google’s tools is Google Analytics, the most popular website analytics software used the world over. If you have a website and you are not retaining data about visitors to your site, then you are missing out on a massive opportunity.
Most nonprofits already use Google Analytics, but it can never hurt to make sure your specific account is configured properly. Even though Google Analytics may be running, there is a chance that data is being skewed, so make sure you’re getting the cleanest data possible. Once you’re sure about the quality of your Google Analytics data, you can try out the Dashboard Junkie plugin to create awesome and simplified reports.
On the marketing side of things, Google AdWords is the leader in search engine advertising platforms. But what many nonprofits don’t realize is that Google gives out up to $10,000 of in-kind advertising dollars every month to nonprofit organizations who qualify. To learn more, be sure to check out the Google Grants program.
2) Best Tools for Email
Email marketing is a powerful tool that your nonprofit can use to further engage your audience. Through tailored emails sent en masse to your list of constituents, you can easily thank your donors, attract more volunteers, and spread your mission to a wider audience.
While there are tons of email marketing platforms — such as MailChimp and Constant Contact — choosing the best fit for your organization will depends on your needs. But in most cases, nonprofits all have their email marketing tool of choice and there are two tools which can help improve your emails.
There’s the grueling task of coding and previewing an email to make sure it looks great in all email clients and apps, and checking to make sure the links and images all work. Litmus is a fantastic email tool that can help preview and design the look of your email templates before you hit send. This tool integrates with over 400 email marketing tools, so it can help give you some insights into how your emails are looking regardless of device.
Few things are more frustrating than launching a new email campaign only to get a high number of undeliverable failure notifications. Email verification tools like Email Hippo extract just the valid, working email addresses from your donor/prospect lists.
3) Canva (Graphic Design)
There are times when a good looking thumbnail preview image can be the difference between people clicking on your link or skimming on by when your post pops up in their social news feed. If you have an in-house designer that can whip up something custom like clockwork, then you’re ahead of a lot of nonprofit organizations.
But you may not have a dedicated creative person on hand, which may lead you to believe that there’s no other choice than to rely on stock photos and Microsoft Paint (gasp!). Fortunately, there are a couple of free tools out there that allow you to do a whole lot with creating custom graphics.
The best one has to be Canva; it’s quick, free, and an efficient alternative to Photoshop or Illustrator. This web application allows you to upload your own images, apply customized filters, and choose from a wide selection of engaging font types to lay over the image. Even experienced designers use the paid subscription to generate assets quickly when time is short.
Bonus Tool: Piktochart
Similar to Canva, Piktochart is another good tool if your marketing team wants to get into creating more infographics. With paid and free options, Piktochart is designed specifically to make high-quality infographics with a simple to use interface.
4) Asana for Project Management
There are tons of apps that aim to solve the same problem, but there’s enough between all of them that it all comes down to personal preference. When it comes to task management and project collaboration across a team, every nonprofit will tell you which tool is their favorite.
Designed expressly for task and project management, Asana is also fantastic for team collaboration. The interface is extremely user friendly and easy to get the hang of once you play around with it a little bit.
Nonprofits can use all the help they can get with project management, and Asana is most certainly one of the best solutions out there.
5) Agorapulse for Social Media Management
Social media has become synonymous with everyday life, so it’s hard for any nonprofit organization to ignore for long. Whether it’s spreading the word or engaging members of the community, social media will likely not be going anywhere in the near future.
There are lots of social media management tools, but Agorapulse has a full selection of features and competitive pricing that make it one of the best to consider right now. The most interesting aspect is how the platform can be utilized to engage with users directly or through established automated rules. Not to mention it also can now post directly to Instagram on behalf of its users.
While Buffer and Hootsuite are fine social platform management solutions, it’s worth seeing everything Agorapulse can do to make social media marketing a breeze.
6) Text Message Marketing
One of the most interesting developments over the last couple of years is the growth of text message (SMS) marketing. It’s a powerful mobile marketing tool considering that billions of people across the world have a mobile device that sends and receives text messages. SMS messages are an entirely different experience in comparison to email and social media.
For nonprofits who want to reach as many of their donors as possible, text messaging can be a new avenue to explore. Technology for chatbots and text messaging is still progressing, but for the time being, nonprofits can use text-to-donate tools to send text messages in bulk and engage with users in a highly efficient way.
7) ClickTime for Time Tracking Software
One of the first steps nonprofits can take to boost productivity is by evaluating how the organization is spending their time during the course of a day. The best way to go about this is to consider implementing time-tracking software such as Clicktime. Each month you can conduct an analysis of how long it takes to complete ongoing tasks to see where improvements can be made or give better insights into forecasting how long a project will take.
Best-in-class time tracking technologies can provide deep operational insights that empower your organization, and allow you to share data-driven stories with your funders, grantors, or members. ClickTime makes it easy to track employee time against the programs and grants you manage to ensure compliance, improve program management, and drive increased funding.
When your nonprofit implements tools for better efficiency, the organization will see benefits both immediately and in the long-term. No matter the size of your nonprofit, with these seven tools in your utility belt, nothing should stop you from becoming a stronger organization.