As a nonprofit professional or passionate advocate, you’re always on the lookout for ways to grow your organization. Maybe you’re looking to increase membership, donors, or engage volunteers?
The Internet is filled with articles and headlines revealing the benefits of the latest technology and tools. So, do they make a difference? And how do you know which ones to use?
It depends on what you’re doing and what you want to be doing.
What pain points are you trying to resolve?
Tech tools can be helpful for reducing or eliminating pain points, and most helpful if they create better ways to accomplish existing or future goals.
Are tech tools right for you? They may be if you need to accomplish any of the following:
Minimize wear and tear (and boredom/burnout) for humans (examples: automating rote tasks or organizing)
Increase effectiveness (example: tracking and managing data to measure outcomes)
Save money (example: removing unnecessary steps in processes)
Free up time (example: automatic responders like chatbots)
Help people understand your work and mission (examples: compelling visuals and storytelling)
Better connect with your community or clients (example: language and translation tools)
Enhance your skills (example: online courses)
Here is a simple process to get started with finding the right tools.
Do a quick online search for “Best tools to ______ [whatever you are trying to do] for nonprofits” or something similar.
Scan a few credible blog articles in the search results and see if some of the same recommendations pop up consistently.
Head over to Capterra, a review site for software, and compare the tools you see recommended across several articles. Capterra rates performance overall as well as ease-of-use, value, features, and support.
If the recommended tools also have good ratings, create a quality “short list” and dive deeper as needed.
Popular Tools for Nonprofits
Google Ad Grants. If your organization is a 501(c)(3), you may qualify for Google for Nonprofits. Once qualified, in addition to G Suite and other tools, you can get up to $10,000 of in-kind Google Ads per month. The ads let you to be found easily when someone is actively searching for and interested in your type of organization, which can potentially lead to stronger awareness, more members, more volunteers, and more donors.
Duolingo. This language-learning app has 22 languages available, all free. If you have clients or community members who speak different languages, Duolingo is a fun, fast way to pick up some basics in only a few minutes a day.
TED Talks (and other online learning). TED has thousands of free videos from global experts (and incredible speakers and storytellers) on almost any topic, sharing “ideas worth spreading.” There are numerous lists online of best nonprofit TED talks to start with, or you can search for something specific. You can also take free or inexpensive classes (many similar to college courses) on a dizzying array of topics through sites like Udemy, Coursera, Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning), CyberWise, Microsoft’s Digital Skills Center for Nonprofits, CodeAcademy, and Think with Google.
Like projects and programs, technology offers the most benefit when a specific need and a thoughtful strategy come together. The tools listed here might help you accomplish tasks better, faster, easier or more efficiently for some of the needs nonprofits commonly have.
Want to Learn More?
Join me at the upcoming webinar, “8 Super Easy Tech Tools to Grow Your Membership and Motivate Your Volunteers,” offered by Wild Apricot on August 27 at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Amy Neumann is a social good fanatic, striving world changer, and entrepreneur. Amy founded a start-up nonprofit called Free Tech for Nonprofits in 2017 and is CEO of the social enterprise consultancy Good Plus Tech, with a focus on emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence for social impact. In 2018 Amy published a Simon and Schuster book, Simple Acts to Change the World: 500 Ways to Make a Difference, as a tribute to social good, social justice, and volunteering ideas gathered over two decades in the space.