Online tools can help charities save a lot of time when coordinating their digital fundraising campaigns. There is an abundance of free tools available to help them overcome the barrier of the cost, increasing the chances of a successful campaign.
It’s useful to experiment with a number of online tools until you find the ones that work best for your organisation. Before trying a new tool, it’s worth considering:
This post gives an overview of 30 free online tools that can improve communication, management, and promotion of your digital fundraising campaign. It ends with a short case study about how these tools can make a huge difference to fundraising and outreach efforts.
Slack – Slack is an instant messaging programme which enhances internal communication and is especially useful for distributed teams. It allows for the creation of custom discussion channels for different purposes, and additional apps are available ton make communication even more efficient.
Appear.in or Skype – Both Appear.in and Skype can be useful for group video conferencing among team members from different locations. Appear.in is the fastest way to start a video call, as it does not require a registration, while Skype can be more powerful due to the availability of additional features.
Google Hangouts – Google Hangouts is another possibility for group video conferencing. If you already use Google Calendar, you might prefer it for setting up direct video calls through your calendar invites.
Dropbox – Dropbox can be used to share campaign materials with your team, and also allows you to synchronise your work across all devices.
Google Drive – Similarly, Google Drive can be useful If you want to share files with the rest of your team. It offers 15 GB of free storage, and can serve as a base to organise your campaign materials.
Trello – Trello is an extremely useful project management tool. It helps you to organise a project on a board and create tasks that fit into columns. For example, each column can represent a different stage of the project, allowing you to move tasks between columns depending on its status. It also allows for the efficient assignment of tasks to people, giving a clear overview of everyone’s responsibilities.
Asana – Asana is a cloud platform that enables teams to organise their projects. The dashboard provides an overview of pending tasks and the team members assigned to them, while conversations and calendars can help you organise what’s coming up.
Wrike – Wrike is a collaboration and project management programme that helps you to centralise communication with stakeholders and streamline the workflow for a project.
IFTTT – IFTTT is an efficient way of automating a number of communication and project management tasks during a campaign. Each automated activity is called a “recipe” and it is triggered to save you the time of doing it manually. For example, you can automatically add new Twitter contacts in a spreadsheet, or you can cross-post your content from Facebook to Instagram. The fact that it offers thousands of “recipes” makes it a big time-saver.
Google for Nonprofits – Google provides a set of tools to help nonprofits manage their campaigns. Youtube’s nonprofit programme helps organisations connect with supporters, volunteers and donors, and makes donations easier through donations cards that show up on the videos. Google Ad Grants offers the equivalent of $10,000 in advertising each month to help nonprofit organisations raise awareness for their campaigns. And Google One Today provides help to find new donors and make an impact through easier campaign management.
Canva Work – Canva assists in the creation of visual content for social media and marketing materials. It offers thousands of templates, making it quick and easy to create appealing graphics. Its premium version, Canva Work, offers even more tools to try out and helps to create branding consistency among campaigns. Canva offers Canva Work for free to registered nonprofits, encouraging them to bring their vision to life.
Pablo by Buffer – Pablo is an online tool that helps you create social media graphics. It gives access to more than 50,000 images, allowing you to find the best ones for your campaign, and they can be easily resized to fit on different social platforms.
Adobe Spark – Adobe Spark offers a series of tools to create pages, videos or posts as fast as possible, allowing your organisation to produce new campaign materials that look both appealing and professional. Our favourite tool of the three is Spark Video, which offers an excellent way to create animated videos. All you need to do is speak your story and pick the theme and images, and the tool will create a video for you.
Pixlr Express – Pixlr Express offers a quick online solution to photo editing. It could be useful whether you want to crop, resize, or add filters to your images.
Giphy GIF Maker – GIFs, or animated images, have become very popular in online campaigns, as they can be extremely engaging. Giphy is the most popular online library of GIFs, and the Maker allows you to create your own from video files and Youtube links. For example, if you’ve just uploaded a Youtube video to promote your campaign, you can also create a GIF as new content for your promotion.
WeVideo – WeVideo is an online video editor that allows you to capture, create, view and share your movies at up to 4K resolution. Its free version offers a publish time of 5 minutes per month and 1GB of cloud storage.
Creatives Without Borders – Creatives Without Borders is an interesting nonprofit startup collective that connects designers with nonprofit associations in need of their expertise.
Facebook for Nonprofits – Facebook for Nonprofits can help you use Facebook to raise awareness of your campaigns, reach a new audience, raise funds and access resources.
Twenrich – Twenrich allows you to analyse your Twitter followers through keywords and discover the most influential ones. By entering a keyword, you’ll get a detailed analysis showing which of your followers are best placed to help spread the word and generate interest for your campaign.
Brand Mentions – Brand Mentions offers real-time social media search and analysis to help you find what people are saying about your brand across the web.
Google Alerts – Google Alerts can send you notifications about particular topics or keywords that are relevant to your campaign.
Buffer – Buffer is a social media management platform that simplifies scheduling of your social posts. It’s an easy-to-use platform and it also offers analytics to measure the performance of your posts.
Tweetdeck – Tweetdeck is Twitter’s management platform and it facilitates the scheduling and monitoring of your tweets. It can be useful both in terms of scheduling your campaign’s Twitter posts and for keeping track of your followers, their tweets, or particular hashtags.
Hootsuite – Hootsuite is one of the most popular options in social media management. It’s a powerful platform that offers scheduling, monitoring and measurement of your social accounts. The free version allows you to add three social channels, which makes it ideal for a small organisation.
bit.ly – Bit.ly allows you to shorten, measure and optimise links that are part of your campaign. For example, if you want to create two different links for your campaign’s page to track which one is more effective, you can use bit.ly both to shorten your actual links, and also to measure their performance.
MailChimp – MailChimp allows you to create good looking, professional email campaigns for 2,000 or fewer recipients. You can use their range of standard templates or create your own, set up automatic welcome emails, and get recommendations based on analytics from previous campaigns.
Boomerang for Gmail – Gmail’s Boomerang is an extension that lets you organise your emails to become more productive. You can schedule an email to be sent later, set email reminders, and get real-time tips about how to improve your emails to have the impact you want.
Email Signature Template Generator by Hubspot – This allows you to customise your email signature in order to promote your organisation’s campaign. You can create a professional signature by filling in a simple form, and you can easily customise the design and the social buttons that you want to include.
Email Subject Line Open Rate Predictor – This tool can be useful if you want to predict how well your email will perform. Enter a potential subject line for your next email and it will be graded (0-100) based on its chances of motivating recipients to open the email.
Cat Whitehouse, Communication and Administration Officer at Pathway and The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health, wanted to explore how digital tools could help increase engagement.
We asked her about her two favourite online tools and how they facilitated her tasks:
Lots of small charities still run their mailing lists through a BCC on outlook. It’s incredibly outdated and means you can’t monitor engagement. As soon I started I moved The Faculty for Homeless and Inclusion Health (a network of health and social care professionals who help vulnerable people) to a free MailChimp package. I also implemented an active sign up form, rather than an ‘if you donate or contact us we’ll ask if you’d like to join’.
In the two years that have followed we’ve taken the group from 600 members to over 1000, without spending a single penny.
My other tip would be think about using tools in new ways. Traditional wisdom says Twitter is hard to fundraise from, and that it’s a young platform. That’s simply not the case any more. Twitter growth has stagnated as new forms of engagement have come out, but there’s a solid ‘older’ (in digital terms!) crowd of millennials there. If you’ve got a pre-converted audience with a personal connection it can fulfill many functions.
We’ve been able to use Twitter to engage with a variety of health professionals, reach out to international experts who’ve connected with our work, and make contact with journalists. We’re a pretty niche charity, helping health and social care services to support vulnerable people, but it’s increased our reach exponentially. When a member of staff turned 60 this year they celebrated with a bike ride to raise money for homeless hospital patients, and raised over £4000, a substantial amount of the publicity for that came through Twitter.
So, tell us which are your favourite free tools when planning a digital fundraising campaign?
With many of us and our communities concerned about COVID-19, it can be tricky to know what direction to travel in and which decisions to make when it comes to keeping your charity's supporter community committed and engaged with your cause.