5 Essential Tech Tools and Tips for Nonprofits
So, you've done it.
Your dream of establishing a nonprofit has started to come true, and you're doing the best you can to get things in line.
But where do you start when it comes to keeping everything in line?
I've had the honor of starting, joining, and leading nonprofit organizations - big and small - for close to 20 years, and I've used my technical skills to help those organizations become more efficient and accessible to their communities. In this article, I'll discuss some of the top nonprofit tech tools and tips I've run into.
Nonprofit Tech Tools & Tips
Here are a few tips I've learned the hard way, so you don't have to:
1. Sign Up with a NGO Tech Organization
The very first thing I usually tell nonprofits to do is to sign up with a company like TechSoup. Founded in 1987 as CompuMentor and later known as TechSoup Global, it is a nonprofit international network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provides technical support and technological tools to other nonprofits. Membership is free, but there are administrative costs with placing product requests. You can order anything from computers to software to support for that software, all at a discounted price.
2. Get an Email Marketing Platform
Using that handy TechSoup membership, nonprofits can find a bevy of discounted tech items. Among them, I always recommend getting an email marketing platform. No more will you be relegated to copying and pasting endless amounts of email addresses into the BCC line of your email. Instead, adding all the email addresses into a platform like MailChimp or Constant Contact makes it easier to keep track of who's opening up what, lets you know whose email address doesn't exist anymore, and is usually integrated into your website pretty easily. Which reminds me of our next item.
3. Create a Website
Your website is essentially the storefront to your nonprofit's business. You'll want to make sure that you have a great one to put your best foot forward. Website hosting companies like Wix and Kinsta offer nonprofit discounts. Make sure to give your donors a way to easily keep track of their donations as well. Which brings me to my next point.
4. Procure a Donation Management System
Although we are all tempted to just throw things into a spreadsheet and call it a day, it's always best to get some sort of formal way to keep up with your donors, remind them to renew their giving, and send out a "thank you" as well as the all-important donation receipt at the end of the year! I've wracked my brain one too many times trying to keep an eye on everything while still trying to run a nonprofit, so I highly suggest folks look into something like Braintree or DonorPerfect. The great thing is that many of these systems also include a customer relationship management (CRM) service, so you'll be able to do a little more than just keep track of your funding!
5. Hire a Fractional CTO or CIO
Last but not least on this list, get yourself a part-time technology person. Since most nonprofits are adopting for-profit titles, this person can serve as the Chief Technology Officer or Chief Information Officer of your organization. They can pretty much handle the headaches of typical software and hardware issues, and many times they can do it for just a few hours a month until you can find funding for a full-time person. Individuals like myself are hired out by the hour, or can work on a retainer basis (i.e. a set amount for up to a set amount of hours, per month).
As I've told many folks: running a nonprofit is no different than a for-profit, other than who you report to! Nonprofits can run in the black, and have a lot of revenue. Take time to figure out what's best for yours, and use these tools to help make it operate even better!