Many nonprofits are struggling to survive in our lean economy. With a small staff and a limited budget you must be resourceful and quickly adapt to a changing environment.
There are many free online products that can make the difference between helping a handful of individuals and helping thousands. As a non-profit worker I am continually searching for products that are cost effective, easy to use, and help streamline work flow. With those tenets in mind I have found five “must have” tools with a cost anyone can love – free.
For profit businesses have already realized the importance of search engine marketing. Through Google’s Adwords businesses are able to pay for specific phrases pertaining to their specific business models. The cost varies but many larger businesses spend several thousand dollars a month to stay competitive. Many nonprofits, especially smaller ones, could not allocate that amount of funds towards search engine marketing – until Google Grants.
Google is donating their Adwords service to select nonprofits (free to nonprofits). Google already offers the service to over 4,000 nonprofit organizations. By filling out a simple online grant application Google may offer you the ability to use all the components of the normal Adwords with a cap of $10,000 a month in free advertising. The cost is determined by a pay-per-click (PPC) strategy where each time an individual clicks on a particular Adword the user is charged a set cost.
If your organization is accepted into the Google Grants program you could have between 10,000 and 33,000 additional visitors to your site for free. It can take Google up to six months to determine if your nonprofit is eligible, so the sooner you apply the better.
Continuing the trend of Google offering amazing online tools for free is Google Apps . The applications, or apps for short, employed by Google are an extensive suite of tools that your organization already uses, but for free.
Included in the Google Apps is Gmail, an exclusive email service that can be customized for your nonprofit. Google Calendar gives your nonprofit the ability to organize meetings and manage resources. Another facet available in the packet is Google Documents. Instead of passing often used attachments back and forth Google Docs gives you the ability to create and share documents in a secure online setting.
Google even gives you the worry free ability to migrate all your previous email subjects over to Gmail. Finally, Google offers 24/7 support for your Google Apps. The best part, if your organization employs under 3,000 individuals everything is free with Google’s Education Edition package.
Such is the case for Checkout, Google’s online donation tool. Checkout coincides with Google Grant because recipients of the grant receive free processing until 2011.
Checkout allows nonprofits the ability to provide donors a way to donate directly from an organization’s website. Google provides a simple code that only needs to be pasted into your source code to display the donate button and have everything up and running. I wouldn’t suggest going through with Checkout unless you are already a Google Grants recipient as their processing fees tend to be higher than other sites, such as PayPal for nonprofits.
YouTube Nonprofit Program:
They say a picture is worth a thousands words. The ability to tell your story in a compelling video is fine, but often times battling cat theme’s on YouTube usually means not enough donors are visiting any of your heartwarming videos.
Now YouTube has initiated a nonprofit channel. You now have at your disposal a channel specifically designated for nonprofits. People browsing this channel will only be looking at nonprofits. Additionally, an organization has the capability to add on Google checkout to help increase and drive fundraising right from your videos. The nonprofit program also offers advice and a channel where volunteers can help you fine-tune your organizations videos.
Okay so not necessarily a tool, but this website is like an online dating service; instead of looking for love you have nonprofits looking for volunteers, and vice versa. Volunteer Match allows nonprofits to display their cause and interested volunteers can apply to help, but it goes further than that.
Volunteer Match helps you identify volunteers that have specific skills you need, and volunteers are going to try and utilize their skills when looking for a nonprofit. Need some accounting work done? Perhaps a tricky piece of code just doesn’t make sense, or maybe you just need someone to answer phones.
Volunteer Match allows individuals to piece together a resume of all their volunteer work making it easier for nonprofits to find that perfect match. It gives nonprofits the ability to find people that can fill specific roles.
There are a multitude of free or low cost online services for nonprofits. The only downside is the amount of research required before finding relevant tools to help your nonprofit. Those mentioned above are only a sampling, albeit ones that mesh well with one another. If you are determined you can probably find a tool you need to round out your organization’s needs. You will find that it is time well spent that will save you many hours of labor going forward.