Which Ones to Choose and How to Choose Them?
In an increasingly digitised world, digital tools have become almost indispensable, whether for your internal or external communications, fundraising or administrative tasks.
However, in a sea of online tools and software, choosing the one that best suits your organisation can be challenging. Each tool promises the best results at varying prices. Additionally, your budget is inevitably limited as your investments are primarily focused on the projects you are developing.
While most online tools are designed for businesses, an increasing number of them offer free or discounted access to nonprofit organisations. In this article, we will introduce you to some of these digital tools and software, both free and affordable, that could assist you as a nascent association or NGO. They will help you stand out, save money by avoiding external companies, and save time by simplifying some of your daily tasks.
Team Collaboration Tools
If you are still relying solely on emails to communicate with your team, it's high time to modernise your collaboration methods. To ensure effective teamwork, even small nonprofit organisations need a collaborative workspace and communication platform where you can share and store files, collaborate on documents, plan projects, events, and meetings.
The two most popular platforms in this field are Microsoft 365/Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace. Both platforms offer free subscriptions and favorable pricing for nonprofit organisations. While they have some variations, both platforms are highly performant. If you are torn between the two, I recommend consulting this article that highlights the advantages of each platform. Generally, it is advisable to stick to a platform if you have already started using it since migrating to another one can be time-consuming and require a period of adaptation for the entire team to a new tool.
For our Swiss readers, there are alternative solutions that are more respectful of private data and hosted in Switzerland. The Infomaniak platform competes with giants like Google and Microsoft by developing its own online collaboration space called K Suite, offering a set of tools very similar to MS Teams and Google Workspace. There are still some improvements to be made, but the platform is evolving rapidly and constantly introduces new and enhanced options. While there are no offers for for-profit organisations, the prices are reasonable, and you can test the platform for free for 30 days.
If you are looking for tools focused on project management, we highly recommend you consider Trello and Asana, which are very popular among non-profits and use the Kanban method. The Kanban method is a project management approach that focuses on continuous improvement using visual boards to represent workflow and tasks to be completed. It is important to note that both Trello and Asana offer free versions with basic functionality, as well as advanced paid options. Asana offers a 50% discount for non-profit organisations.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is fundamental for both small and large organisations. Don't let the term "customer" in CRM mislead you – you should consider your donors, volunteers, members, partners, subscribers, and others as customers and ensure relevant and lasting communication with them to maintain their engagement. CRM forms the digital roots of your organisation, allowing it to grow on solid foundations. Poor contact management can quickly turn into a nightmare.
There is no perfect CRM for NGOs, but there is a CRM that will meet your needs and fit the size of your organisation. It is challenging to provide specific recommendations as CRM systems vary significantly based on the needs and size of each organisation. Two important criteria to consider when making your choice are not to aim too big initially and not to neglect integrations. Industry giants are designed to cater to the needs of large teams with tens of thousands of contacts. While their extensive capabilities may seem attractive, they can be disproportionate to the needs of smaller organisations, and the software's complexity may require extensive training or the assistance of a specialist. Opt for a solution that your team can control and manage. Secondly, when choosing a CRM, ensure it integrates with the other applications you use. If you utilize mass email services like MailChimp, make sure easy integration is available, as transferring contacts between the two software can quickly become complicated.
I recommend taking a look at two inexpensive and user-friendly CRM options. Airtable offers an intuitive interface and numerous integrations, and you can benefit from nonprofit discounts. The French CRM Springly is specifically designed for associations and may also suit your needs.
To optimize your communication campaigns and create your communication materials, I recommend using Canva. Canva is a graphic design platform that allows you to create graphics for social media, presentations, posters, documents, and other visual content. The pro version is free for NGOs.
For your social media posts, you can use YayText to give your texts different styles and fonts. If you are a small organisation and do not have images to use or are always using the same ones, there are many stock image banks with free selections like iStock or Pexels.
Visibility and Fundraising
Are you familiar with Google for Nonprofits? This programme gives non-profit organisations access to free or discounted Google products, including Google Ad Grants, the YouTube for Non-Profits programme, Google Maps Platform and Google Workspace. These different tools can help you collaborate better, improve your video campaigns and also for your fundraising. The specific benefits and products available may vary depending on the size and scope of your organisation. For example, Google for Grants is aimed more at large and medium-sized organisations, but the programme in general is designed to be accessible to a wide range of not-for-profit organisations. You need to meet a number of criteria to register your organisation.
Analyze and collect data, whether it's on your website or social media platforms. Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool that helps you understand your website traffic and measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. If you prefer a data privacy-focused alternative, you can use Matomo, which does not use your data for advertising purposes.
Each social media platform, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, offers statistics on your posts and page traffic. Remember to consult and analyze them.
There are many other online tools that can significantly improve the management and communication of your organisation. If you find a tool that seems relevant, don't forget to check if it offers special offers for nonprofit organisations. If you can't find any information on the website, you can inquire directly with the company via email. It is crucial to consider the costs and benefits of each online tool. Sometimes, it is necessary to recognize that investing a certain amount of money in a tool can save you numerous hours or greatly enhance the management and communication of your organisation.
Please note that tools and software evolve rapidly. Therefore, it's important to acknowledge that some of the information provided above may become outdated over time. This article was published in December 2023.