By: Brad Ball
Big Buzz Idea Group
Whether you are well-seasoned in your nonprofit management career, just starting out at an entry-level nonprofit job or somewhere in the middle, you most likely spend a good deal of time in the digital workspace. In this post, we’re going to tell you about our top five favorite online tools to make your life easier and keep your nonprofit organization running smoothly without spending a penny.
We’ve written about this one before and it’s worth mentioning again because it’s such a powerful tool for your nonprofit marketing team. Keep your branding looking beautiful with Canva’s templates, color schemes and image grids. One of our favorite functions of the free Canva account is the pre-sized image templates for most any nonprofit marketing needs your organization could ever have. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram post image templates are the easy ones here; Canva template options also include more unexpected choices like postcards, e-books, infographics and newsletters. If you ever find yourself needing inspiration, Canva’s newsletters about new features and how-to content are just as good as the service itself.
FILE MANAGEMENT: iLovePDF.com
This is a real hidden gem among the myriad free online services and tools. This amazing site advertises itself as “Every tool you need to work with PDFs in one place.” And, wow, does it deliver. iLovePDF offers 23 different functions to manipulate your PDF file. Some of our favorite tasks on this site are also the most basic ones:
- Merge PDF – putting together multiple PDF files into one single file
- Split PDF – separating PDF pages into groups of page ranges or individual pages based on what you need
- Compress PDF – for when that file is just too big to send as an email attachment
- PDF to Word Conversion (off in the distance angels sing) – for when you need to make just a small change on that form or document and don’t have the original file and don’t want to recreate it from scratch.
The other advanced PDF management functions can really be a major time and energy saver. Bookmark iLovePDF.com in your browser now and then thank us later.
EMAIL MARKETING: Mailchimp
If you need to connect with members, donors or do any type of marketing over email, Mailchimp is a powerhouse tool. Mailchimp allows a whopping 2,000 contacts with its free account before your organization needs to utilize a paid account. One of the key things that makes Mailchimp a great tool is that each contact can be on multiple lists using tags and groups, whereas other email platforms count each list a person is on against the total contact count. Mailchimp offers over 300 app integrations for other platforms and tools your organization is already using. The free edition of Mailchimp also includes 1-step automation for more advanced marketing, basic templates, custom domains and, most recently, surveys and websites. The backend of Mailchimp allows users to maintain contact profiles, see open rates and other engagement metrics so you can manage your audience and have the data to help make important nonprofit marketing strategy decisions.
TEAM COMMUNICATION: Slack
Slack is a messaging and communication app that keeps your team connected from anywhere they choose to have digital access. Its key selling point is that it is an ideal alternative to email because you can track conversations, projects and work all in one place, instead of 548 emails. Each project gets its own channel where participants can communicate in a single place instead of with lengthy email chains that cc and Reply All the users to insanity. Slack also works well for private messages when a team needs one-on-one communication to get things done. The free edition of Slack allows users to access up to 10,000 of the team’s most recent messages, which if you’re in a small organization, is likely several months’ worth of messages, at least. Slack also integrates with dozens of other apps like Google Drive, Office 365, Dropbox and more. One of the more recent upgrades in the free account is one-to-one voice and video calls between teammates.
FILE SHARING: Google Drive
Ok, ok. We know: You’re already using Google Drive and possibly much more from the Silicon Valley behemoth. One reason we love it is because Google products are so ubiquitous that it’s hard to find someone that hasn’t interacted with the Google interface at least once in their professional life. Nonprofits today (and plenty of for-profit companies for that matter) are using Google Drive to share files, workspaces, and projects. One of the key reasons we choose Drive to hit our Top Five list over other cloud storage services with free accounts available (like Dropbox) is that multiple users can work on the same document at the same time. This doesn’t work as well on other platforms we’ve tried and can lead to unsaved changes or, worse, multiple editions of the same document that each have different content from the original. One of the other things that makes Drive a great tool for your digital toolbox is that you can use your existing email address without having to sign up for a Google Mail (Gmail) account. Google Drive makes it easy to work with people in other companies and organizations, too. Just send them an invitation to collaborate as an editor and get your next project off to the races.
While there are definitely more options to choose from to get your digital job done, these are some of our favorite resources to make life just a bit easier for your nonprofit management team. We encourage you to pick one and give it a try as you grow your capacity and expand on your mission success. The other great thing about a free account – they’re easy to cancel at any time if it doesn’t meet your needs.