Right now, we are living through a golden era of tools for nonprofits. No matter what responsibilities you’re in charge of, there is a tool that will help you be more efficient. But with so many options, it’s difficult to know which ones you need and which ones won’t add much value. That’s why we’re here.
Not only do we know what it takes to develop software that helps nonprofits, but we also have a good idea of the features (and price points) you’re most interested in. With that in mind, we put together a list of 8 essential tools. With this suite, you’ll be able to accomplish your most important tasks faster and more accurately.
Donors expect your nonprofit to provide the same personalized experience they get from for-profit businesses, especially when it comes to customer service. If they have questions about their donations, you need to provide a quick way to get the answer. Without it, you risk losing the donation all together.
If your nonprofit doesn’t have a self-service tool for donors, consider using Zendesk. They offer a suite of customer service and engagement tools that can help you accomplish that 1:1 experience your donors want. Depending on the size of your organization, you may be able to use Zendesk tools for free, but even bigger nonprofits can start with a free trial.
Zendesk will work best for nonprofits that rely on the sale of goods or services to raise funds. Fulfillment of those goods or services adds an extra layer of logistics to prepare for with a customer service channel. If production is delayed, or the wrong product is shipped, you need a way to talk to the concerned donor directly. Zendesk is a cost-effective option to consider.
If your nonprofit has a single donation process that your donors can update by themselves, you might want to invest in another tool instead. For some nonprofits, an email newsletter is all the communication your donors require. If that sounds like you, pass on Zendesk and take a look at the other tools available.
Direct mail is an important part of your fundraising, but you also need a way to accept online donations. While a robust website would be the best option, a simple landing page with all the information a potential donor would need can suffice.
Squarespace is the easiest tool for nonprofits looking to build a website or landing page. With dozens of pre-made templates to choose from, you can go from idea to live page in about an hour. Even team members who might not be the most tech-savvy will appreciate how easy Squarespace is to use.
Nonprofits who focus on disaster relief efforts would benefit most from using Squarespace. Rather than updating your entire website with information about each new disaster, create a single landing page. They’re faster to update and easier to hide once you no longer need to use them.
If your nonprofit already has a developer on the team, you probably don’t need to invest in Squarespace. They’ll be able to create exactly the landing page you want and won’t find value in the library of page templates.
Rarely will you find tools with a sole mission of helping nonprofits raise more money. Double the Donation does just that. To let them explain it, “Double the Donation has the largest and most accurate database of matching gift and volunteer grant information in the nonprofit industry so your donors don’t miss a match opportunity.”
One simple, affordable tool will help you raise free money from all of your donors. Whether people want to give from their desktop or their phone, Double the Donation makes it easy to find their employer and increase their donation in just a few steps.
We think every nonprofit can benefit from simple donation matching. But especially if you know a majority of your donors work for larger corporations, this is the tool for you. Take some time to match your donor employment records with Double the Donation’s list of over 20,000 companies to make sure you should integrate this tool into your giving pages.
To learn more about how you can quickly integrate Double the Donation to your giving pages using Virtuous, check out our webinar.
We stand by our statement. This isn’t a bad tool for anyone. But, you might find that it’s a little too early for your nonprofit to use Double the Donation. If you currently have a small donor base, or one that is mostly retired people, this might not be the right tool for you.
The reason to give is different for every donor. While you can’t personalize your website for each individual user, you can test different messaging options or user experiences. Tools like Optimizely let you test different websites to learn what your donors respond to most passionately and what messages aren’t working anymore.
Just like Squarespace, Optimizely is meant for people who aren’t developers by trade. Their tool is easy to use and won’t overwhelm your team.
If your fundraising has hit a plateau recently, you would benefit from using Optimizely. While it is costly to experiment with direct mail efforts, for example, you can easily test different ideas online without investing much more. Learn what energizes your donors and what they ignore so that you can break through your fundraising plateau and graduate to the next level.
On the other hand, young nonprofits who are still trying to establish themselves probably won’t find value in experimentation just yet. You still need to discover what your baseline engagements are before you test new ideas. We suggest waiting for now, but definitely keep Optimizely in mind for your future investments.
Measuring your efforts is the only way you can improve them. And the best way to measure any of your efforts, from email to the structure of your website, is by using Google Analytics and their other Webmaster tools.
The learning curve is a little steep, but Google provides dozens of online resources for your team to learn from and go back to as often as you need. We suggest designating one person on your team to become the GA expert, and relying on them to distribute the information.
Nonprofits that have a website should use Google Analytics. There’s no reason not to learn from your website traffic and all of your active users.
If your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to make one person your Google Analytics expert right now, then you can always wait to use it. It is a completely free tool, and the resources are all available for free, so it will always be there when you are ready. But if learning a new platform is too much for your team to handle right now, then we suggest waiting for a slower period.
Google also provides their own suite of free office tools that we (and almost everyone else) highly recommend. Your team can collaborate in real time on documents, reports, presentations and more simply by creating a Google account.
One tool that we think more nonprofits should leverage is Google Forms. It’s similar to a Survey Monkey form and it allows you to collect responses from your donors about whatever topics you want.
Ask them for ideas, plan details for your next event, and read suggestions about how to grow your nonprofit with a quick Google Form.
Google Apps are a great tool for all nonprofits, but especially those who work remote. If your team is spread across the country, or the world, you’ll appreciate how simple they make collaboration and sharing.
We can’t think of a nonprofit that shouldn’t be using Google Apps. Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful tool, and while Google Sheets does similar functions, it is not as powerful. If you need a powerful spreadsheet option, Microsoft Office Suite might be a better option for you, just remember that they do charge a monthly fee.
Accurate expense reporting is a significant part of being transparent. If you don’t know exactly where all your money is going, you will quickly lose the trust of your donors. But, if you’re like most other nonprofits, the expense reporting tool you use is a clunky ‘90s tool. Upgrade to Expensify to save yourself the headache, and the wait times, of creating an expense report.
This is the right tool for nonprofits who frequently attend conferences and events. Your team is working long hours to get the word out about your work. They deserve a way to quickly file an expense report and recoup their money.
Small nonprofits with only a couple team members likely won’t find the value in Expensify. Likely, it’s easier just to share the credit card or do your own expense reporting than to pay for an additional tool. But as your team starts to grow, it is a solution worth looking into.
Creating content for your nonprofit is a great way to spread the word and attract new donors. But that’s only half the story. You also need Google, and other search engines, to be able to crawl that content and show it to people on their results page.
Keyword tools like SEMRush are expensive, but Keywords Everywhere is completely free. It doesn’t provide all the functionality of SEMRush, but it will give you a good idea of what people are searching for and how to optimize your marketing efforts to land on Google’s first page.
This tool is for nonprofits who are doing any form of content marketing. It’s not enough to simply publishing content, you need to optimize it for search engines if you want to see an impact.
If your nonprofit mostly focuses on email marketing and social posts, Keywords Everywhere probably won’t help you very much. It is a completely free tool, so it wouldn’t hurt to add it to your Chrome browser anyway. But you’ll see the most impact when you start publishing content.
Like we mentioned, this is not an exhaustive list of tools, just ones that we think can make a big change in your nonprofit right away. If you have a favorite tool, we want to hear about it! Find us on LinkedIn or Twitter and tell us what tools you love. Use #BestNonprofitTools so we can find you!
Traditional fundraising strategies no longer work. This blueprint explains why today's donor expects more, and how nonprofits are shifting to responsive fundraising.