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17 Essential Tools Every Nonprofit Needs: Free and Discounted Resources to Streamline Operations and Boost Impact

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Do you ever feel like there's just not enough time in the day to get everything done as a nonprofit professional? You're not alone! But don't worry, I've gathered a collection of helpful tools to lend you a hand. Whether you are wrestling with project management, donor relations, or online visibility, these tools are here to make your life a little easier. Best of all, these tools are FREE!

  • Manage Projects: Feeling overwhelmed by scattered tasks and unclear deadlines? Asana's free version keeps your team organized and on the same page. Asana offers a 50% discount for nonprofits if you want to use all of its amazing features Click HERE to learn more.
  • Craft Newsletters: Ditch the personal email account! Mailchimp offers a free tier to design professional and engaging email newsletters for your subscribers. You can also get a 15% discount as a nonprofit if you want to upgrade to a higher tier. Learn more by clicking HERE.
  • Boost Online Visibility: Want to reach more people but can't afford ads? Google Ad Grants provides nonprofits with a free $10,000 monthly budget for text-based search ads.
  • Stay Connected with Donors: Zeffy's free plan helps smaller nonprofits manage donor information and streamline fundraising processes.
  • Facilitate Teamwork: Google Workspace for Nonprofits offers a suite of free tools including Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Drive for seamless collaboration within your team.
  • Proofread Your Work: Grammarly's free plan catches typos and grammatical errors before you hit publish. Polish your writing further with the free Hemingway App to improve readability.
  • Present Data with Flair: Can't afford fancy data visualization tools? Tableau Public lets you create interactive charts, graphs, and dashboards to showcase your data in a compelling way.
  • Empower Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: Give Lively's free platform empowers your supporters to create and run their own fundraising campaigns, expanding your donor network. Zeffy also offers this service for FREE!
  • Schedule Social Media Posts: Short on time to manage social media? Buffer allows you to schedule posts in advance for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram (with a limited number of free accounts).
  • Track Link Performance: Wondering if people are clicking your links? Bitly's free plan shortens links and provides basic tracking analytics. They recently acquired QR Code Generator, another free tool to connect your audience to campaigns and events.
  • Analyze Website Traffic: Google Analytics offers free insights into who visits your website, how they find you, and what they do once they arrive.
  • Test Website Usability: See how visitors navigate your website with Microsoft Clarity's free heatmaps and recordings. This helps you identify areas for improvement.
  • Find Free Images: No budget for stock photos?  Pexels and Unsplash offer high-quality images you can download for free. (But, I recommend taking your own pictures whenever possible!)
  • Design Engaging Visuals: Canva is a free and user-friendly tool to create stunning graphics and edit photos for your website and social media. Nonprofits can get the professional version of Canva FREE! Click HERE to learn more and sign up now!
  • Build Online Communities: Facebook Groups provide a free platform for fostering discussion and connection among your supporters within a familiar platform.
  • Manage Volunteers: Simplify volunteer recruitment and communication with a free Volunteer Management tool by SignUp.
  • Securely Store Passwords: LastPass helps you manage all your passwords securely with a single master password. The free plan offers basic features for password storage and generation.

Did I miss any hidden gems on this list? Feel free to email me at Steph@SuccessForNonprofits, and I will add them.

The Nonprofit Business Plan: Your Roadmap to Impact

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You're passionate, driven, and fueled by a desire to make a difference. You've got a big vision for your nonprofit, but translating that into a concrete plan can feel overwhelming. Enter the nonprofit business plan: your roadmap to success.

Whether your nonprofit is just starting out, facing challenges, or thriving with years of success, crafting a nonprofit business plan is an absolute must! Why, you ask?

By developing a nonprofit business plan, you're not just creating a document; you're igniting the dynamic roadmap for your organization's journey. It defines the who, what, and how of your nonprofit's operations, assigning responsibilities and charting the exhilarating course towards your ambitious goals!

With your nonprofit business plan, your team is crystal clear on your goals, challenges, and path forward. It sets achievable targets for the next few years, keeping you focused and accountable. It's also your touchstone, revisited throughout the year to ensure your actions align with your vision. No more drifting off course, unsure if you're making a real difference. This plan reminds you and your donors what you're about and, more importantly, what you're not.

Your nonprofit organization also needs a business plan to best secure support of any kind, this is true whether you are seeking monetary donations, in-kind donations, recruiting volunteers, etc. 

Why a nonprofit business plan is your secret weapon:

Unlike for-profits targeting investors, nonprofits appeal to a diverse audience: donors, volunteers, foundations, and clients - all with a vested interest in your "why" and "how." You need to understand how to speak to each of them, and building your plan will help you do that.

Ready to write your nonprofit business plan? Here's your 7-step guide:

1. Mind your audience: Avoid jargon and acronyms. Write for everyone, not just experts.

2. Outline your plan: Know what information you need to gather before you start writing.

3. Keep it simple: 12-point font, Times New Roman, readable margins, and white space are your friends.

4. Divide and conquer: Use clear headings and separate pages for each section.

5. Data with pizazz: Charts and graphs make your facts sing.

6. Proofread like a pro: Even the best writers need an editor.

7. Stay positive: Highlight your solutions, not just the problems you tackle.

Now, let's dissect the sections:

Executive Summary: This is your elevator pitch, the most read section. Tell your story of change, mission, vision and goals.

Products, programs, and services: Dive deep into what you offer. Detail the need you address and your unique approach. Highlight your impact on your community, both now and in the future.

Operations: This is where you showcase your organizational muscle. Mention your nonprofit's areas of focus, your team, and how you're structured for success. Don't forget your location(s) and past accomplishments if you're established.

Marketing: It's not just about good deeds. Tell everyone about them! Explain your branding, online reach (website, social media, SEO), and how you plan to get noticed.

Operational plan: Daily duties meet long-term dreams. Show your practical side and your big-picture vision. Include daily operations, costs, expansion plans, and how you'll get there.

Finances: Be transparent. Lay out your funding projections and expected expenses. Use tables for easy reading.

Appendix: This is your catch-all for anything extra: board member bios, research papers, or anything relevant that doesn't fit elsewhere.

Remember, your plan is a living document. Use it, update it, and let it guide you towards the impact you were born to make.

Feeling inspired? Join the Success For Nonprofits Membership Program for a nonprofit business plan template and start writing! Your community is counting on your impact and success!

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