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10 Best and (Almost) Free Tools to Create Mind Maps for Your Nonprofit

A mind map is a visual representation of keynote thoughts centered around the main idea. It helps us stay organized in the informational chaos.

Mind maps look like trees. Or spiders. Or octopuses. It's just like anything that has a center (a core idea or problem) and branches (essential points to work through). Where applicable, each branch has own, smaller offshoots. And so on until you iron out all the details.

Psychologists claim that mind mapping can make us smarter and more creative. That's all well and fine, but what about its use in practice for your nonprofit organization?

Why Your Nonprofit Needs Mind Maps

Mind mapping is an exceptional tool for business planning, communicating ideas to employees, and supporting project management processes in your nonprofit organization. Also, it improves collaboration between teams: according to the research by mind mapping expert Chuck Frey, employees who use maps are 20-30 percent more productive in work.

Mind maps will help you:

  • Plan nonprofit projects. Share a mind map with team members and edit it accordingly to control tasks as well as project processes.
  • Prepare and conduct business meetings. Use a mind map to outline your speech, keep a narrative logic, and sum up everything. Mind mapping tools allow creating presentations for you to visualize all points.
  • Build business strategies, analyze all the research in your nonprofit niche.
  • Brainstorm ideas to come up with innovative solutions for your projects.

10 Best and (Almost) Free Tools to Create Mind Maps for Your Nonprofit

How to Create a Mind Map

To make a long story short, let's use the algorithm of mind map creation developed by its author, British psychologist Tony Buzan.

  • Start with a central idea, and follow thoughts hierarchy.
  • Represent a single idea with one or two words, color, or image.
  • Use visual elements to categorize ideas.
  • Connect subsidiary ideas around a central one by lines. Link all branches, so they lead to a core idea.
  • Leave some space between blocks to make each branch clearer.
  • Make blocks, lines, images extensional for better perception and stronger conclusions.
  • Stay clear and concise. Implement unified hierarchy styles through your mind map to organize ideas.

A whiteboard and multicolored pencils are everything you need to draw a mind map and visually focus on project processes and business ideas. Some managers continue using PowerPoint or Keynote for mind mapping, as well. And yet, in 2018, a lot of different tools and software can help to organize your business processes and enhance your employees' productivity.

Below is the list of the top 10 mind-mapping tools to try in your nonprofit organization.

Top 10 (Almost) Free Tools to Use

  1. Mind Meister. It's a web-based tool that doesn't require any downloads or updates. Create an account, integrate it with Google instruments as well as Dropbox or Evernote, sync with Meister Task to manage your projects, and feel free to use more than 50 mind maps templates. You can also upload your own images or backgrounds to Mind Meister and share maps with colleagues so they can elaborate on them if needed.
  2. Mind Mup. This tool is perfect for mind-mapping newbies because of its intuitive interface and features. You can add and edit images and texts with two clicks, and create or delete branches with a single click. Mind Mup is great for planning, note-taking, and teamwork. Manage your mind maps in Google Apps, convert them to PDF or PowerPoint, and publish or share them online.
  3. Mind42. Completely free to use, this tool allows creating to-do lists, organizing business events, brainstorming ideas for your new nonprofit projects, and more. Use it to collaborate with co-workers, assign tasks, and see mind maps created by others. Mind42 features are not that extensive but are enough for efficient work on projects.
  4. Mind Jet. Use this one to create mind maps by categories (meetings, events, strategy planning, personal productivity, problem-solving) and prioritize tasks. Tons of templates, map synchronization across websites and applications, intuitive interface and multiple features—all this makes Mind Jet worth trying. A month trial is available for free, so you could try the features and decide if this tool meets your business needs.
  5. iMind Map. Four modes are available here: ideas recording, brainstorming, mind mapping, and data conversion into 2D and 3D presentations, PDF, charts, and other formats. iMind Map spell checks your texts, allows taking notes on each branch, provides 100+ creative styles for presentation, and guides you through the whole process of mind mapping.
  6. Wise Mapping. Easy and free to use, this web-based mind-mapping tool allows you to export data into JPEG, PNG, PDF, SVG, Freemind, Mind Jet, text, or Excel formats. All you need to start working with Wise Mapping is to create an account at their website.
  7. Mapul. This online application with unusual design lets you create beautiful and intuitive mind maps. Its free version provides you with brainstorming and drawing modes to craft rectangular/spline branches and export them to JPEG format. Mapul might be quite challenging to use for mind mapping newbies, but once you get used to it—it will become your favorite for sure.
  8. Mindomo. Though a free version of this tool provides you with three mind maps only, it's quite enough to evaluate all features and decide if it fits your organization needs. Mindomo offers 24 templates, three account types, and opportunities to work on mind maps in teams, add video and audio files, set tasks priority, and add comments to branches.
  9. Popplet. Aimed at helping the educational and business sectors, this tool allows you to brainstorm ideas and organize projects. Its free version offers five mind maps that you can edit, print, save as PNG or PDF, and share with co-workers for further discussion and process regulations.
  10. Coggle. It's a web-based instrument for collaborative work with mind maps. Use it to take notes, brainstorm business ideas, plan nonprofit projects, and share information with your team members. Coggle can also track history, and it works in a real-time mode.


Mind mapping is an efficient method to brainstorm ideas, build plans and strategies, and collaborate with employees in your nonprofit organization. Breaking ideas and concepts into smaller parts for better understanding and step-by-step implementing, you can apply mind maps in different sectors.

To get the most out of this instrument, consider the best full-featured tools: they will help to create and save mind maps in different formats as well as integrate them with other applications for better illustrative purposes.

Lesley Vos is a content architect and blogger behind Bid4Papers, a regular contributor to publications on business and marketing, and a writing coach to newbie web authors. Feel free to get in touch on Twitter.

Topics: Nonprofit management Brainstorming Mind Mapping