The Best (and Mostly Free) Technology for Your Nonprofit

If you’re like me, you’re the defacto IT professional at your organization: i.e., you’re relatively tech-savvy, and you enjoy seeing your organization enter the second decade of 21st century. I’ve been that guy for 5 years at my organization, New City Kids. Here’s a list of technologies that will vastly improve your organization.

  1. Google for Nonprofits (The best email service. Free.)

Hands-down the best investment of your time. If you’re a registered nonprofit, you can license Google entire business platform. FOR FREE. That means:

  • Gmail for your domain: i.e., john@charity.org.
  • Create, delete, and organize users through the admin panel (it’s unlimited, by the way).
  • Bonus: you’ll definitely want to apply for$10,000/mo of free Google Ad Words advertising. It’s a short (~30 min) grant application.

2. Salesforce (Powerful donor relationship management database)

Salesforce is one of the leading Customer Relationship Management solutions on the web. The platform helps sales and marketing teams keep track of their leads (potential customers) and customers. It’s incredibly powerful, and Salesforce has thoughtfully built our a nonprofit edition that is designed around the specific needs of nonprofits. The platform is free for up to 10 users, and beyond that each license is $360/year. The Salesforce Nonprofit Starter Pack 3.0 (NPSP 3.0) is deeply integrated with the platform and updates are released regularly. Individual donors, foundations, and household pages (including address management tools, giving totals by household as well as individual), grants, memberships, and recurring donation tracking are all standard with Salesforce NPSP 3.0.

If you’re still tracking donors on spreadsheets — don’t.

3. Mailchimp (Intuitive email marketing)

Mailchimp is a leading email marketing platform. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, and has beautiful templates built in. It also integrates with Salesforce to build email lists from donors in the database.

4. Dropbox (Efficient cloud server)

Dropbox can be perceived as somewhat pricey, since the business license costs $100/user/year after a 30% nonprofit discount is applied. But the platform is an incredibly solid cloud server for your nonprofit. The sharing abilities have gotten much better in the past couple years, and now it’s a slick and efficient way to make sure that everyone on your team has access to all the important files in your organzation. One of my favorite features about Dropbox for Business is the ability to restore any file, at any time, so when that one person accidentally deletes the presentation they need to give tomorrow morning (it always happens), the admin can go in an restore the file instantly.

Here’s a little secret: each employee at Dropbox gets to choose one nonprofit to support with unlimited free licenses. If you know an employee, make sure to ask about this perk.

5. Wordpress Templates (Slick websites with built-in donation platform)

A quick search on the popular Themeforest site reveals that building a charity website from the ground up is a serious waste of time. Wordpress, originally designed as a blogging platform, is now being used as an easy content manager for real websites. Unless your cause depends on a serious online feature set, a Wordpress template will give you a high-dollar look for about $70. Some templates even come with built-in Paypal donation pages for an all-in-one experience that will increase your donor conversion rates.

6. Dialpad (Cloud-based professional business phone)

If you’re looking for a professional-sounding phone system, Dialpad is a great option. The service is an entirely cloud-based business phone solution. Users are $20/month. Each user gets a direct line which rings to any device (Mac, PC, iPhone, or Android) with the Dialpad app installed. A free main line is included once your organization is set up, and it’s simple to set up an answering system with extensions for either individuals or departments.

I have personally used and can attest to the value of all 6 of these tools. If you have other services that have been useful to your nonprofit (or are mostly free), let me know in the comments or on Twitter.