Never before has there been a greater opportunity for nonprofits to be able to produce professional quality websites on low budgets.
Free, web-based software is available for organizations to better expand and customize your nonprofit’s online presence. Though the range and scope of free applications on the internet is absolutely staggering, most applications can be best organized in a few main categories.
There are now more opportunities than ever to be able to design creative and professional websites. Websites such as moonfruit, wufoo, and wix provide free applications that allow users to create stunning and professional websites with little to no programming experience and minimal time commitments. These applications not only allow nonprofits to have more control over their primary websites, but the ease and low cost of their use means than nonprofits can even create specific websites for events or campaigns, or volunteer recruitment. Website content management has never been easier with the array tools available in this category.
Social Networking and Outreach
In addition to websites, it has never been more crucial for nonprofit organizations to maintain a strong online presence on social networks. As a nonprofit, you should regularly update your Facebook and Twitter profiles to keep in contact with and energize followers. Facebook collaborates with nonprofits and has recently released a set of guidelines of best practices for nonprofits and charities. Twitter is also incredibly useful and there are myriad free applications such as twtpoll or twibbon that are specifically designed to maximize your Twitter efforts. To gain even more visibility online, nonprofits should consider making accounts on photo sharing and blogging sites such as Instagram or Tumblr to further reach followers with heavy visual appetites.
Instagram, which was purchase by Facebook for $1 billion has already made a huge impact in the world of nonprofit fundraising, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals. This purchase has only recently been surpassed by the purchase of Tumblr by Yahoo for over a billion dollars.
In a more traditional mode, there are many free review magazines and free online directories of nonprofits, such as Great Nonprofits, designed specifically to spread the word of about exceptional nonprofit organizations around the country.
Perhaps most importantly, there are an incredible amount of resources for nonprofits that can be used to make your organization more efficient. Many of these free services involve providing cloud services to nonprofit organizations, such as the Nonprofit Cloud or the newly retooled Microsoft Outlook. Services, such as Meetup and Join.me are meant to provide more effective communication for organizations by facilitating meetings.
Many services are specifically designed to be optimal for nonprofits, several are described in the Nonprofit Technology Magazine which keeps regularly reviews and recommendations of free technology.
Perhaps the most useful free software in terms of efficiency are Google Apps and Websites. With a free account, Google provides complementary cloud services such as the Google Drive and free methods of communicating via multimedia with Google Hangout. Perhaps most critically, Google provides the opportunity for free website analytics with Google Analytics. This app is critical for nonprofits as it provides moment to moment tracking of site visitors and allows for nonprofits to quickly respond, evaluate, and adapt to participants’ areas of interest tailor their message and services. All of these services are powerful tools that can allow nonprofits to operate with greater efficiency on a modest budget.