13 Productivity Tools for Nonprofits (2021 Update)

Website & Technology July 21, 2021

Terry Ibele

By Terry Ibele

Alyssa had no idea what she was getting into when she landed her first role as the Admin Coordinator at a small association in Chicago.

While her duties seemed clear-cut in the job description, she quickly realized what a mess everything was on the inside. On top of managing the general administrative work, she was also expected to help plan events, manage members, and promote the organization online.

She loved the staff and members of the association. But, in her words, “The juice wasn’t worth the squeeze.” After working one too many late nights, she was ready to quit — until she met the Sarah, the admin of a similar-sized association, at a conference.

It turned out that Sarah shared a similar workload to Alyssa, but didn’t share the same stress levels, and she rarely stayed late. It wasn’t that this other admin was a harder worker. 

Her secret? 

She used a number of free and inexpensive productivity tools to automate much of her work — things like scheduling social media posts, managing board tasks, updating member profiles, and more — saving hours every week.

Alyssa went back to the office with Sarah’s list of tools. Not surprisingly, by the end of the week, she was able to automate many of her regular tasks and relieve the stress that came with juggling multiple hats.

If you find yourself struggling to keep up with everything you have to coordinate in your work, browse this list of productivity tools (some of which Alyssa now swears by) to see which ones might help you out.

 

Why Nonprofits Should Use Productivity Tools

Nonprofits do incredibly meaningful work, improving (and often changing!) the lives of the people they serve. However, even the largest nonprofits don't spend 100% of their time doing this work — there's always emails to answer, meetings to schedule, budgets to approve and other important but tedious tasks. 

If you work at a small nonprofit, you know how difficult it is to push through the administrative to-dos and get to the real stuff — the program planning, the strategy, the fundraising, and the action. 

This's why the most successful nonprofits invest in software tools that help them use their time more productively. Tools like this can help you and your colleagues:

  • Automate administrative and repetitive tasks
  • Stop wasting time searching for files and information
  • Stay organized
  • Collaborate with each other without wasting time on lengthy meetings and emails
  • Streamline projects and events
  • Streamline the approval process
  • Better manage your board of directors and volunteers 
  • And much more! 

 

Characteristics of a Highly Productive Nonprofit

So what does a productive nonprofit look like? Nonprofits who don't waste time an administrative tasks have the following:

1. Organized and accessible storage systems

How many hours have you spent responding to your manager's emails where they ask you to send them something they don't have access to or don't have the time to find. Having a proper file storage system and information database means everyone in the organization — including leadership — can find what they need when they need it, without taking up anyone else's time. 

2. Robust approval processes

Productive organizations follow a strict approval process for their documents, proposals, reports, project plans, collateral, and publications. Without a process in place, it's too easy for things to be approved with errors, which costs both time and money. Not to mention, when people don't have a good sense of how long they they can take or how much feedback they should to give, things tend to get stuck in the approval stage for much too long. Ultimately, it can mean missed deadlines and overspending. 

3. Project management systems

Nonprofits often undertake projects that are cyclical in nature — the same gala every year, the same annual report needs to be published, etc. When you take the time to properly document how a project was coordinated, you can review what went well and what didn't, and make adjustments for next year. When next year rolls around, you don't have to start from scratch! Instead, you'll have an evidence-based roadmap to follow. 

4. Buy-in from everyone 

Productivity tools and systems are great, but they only work so long as everyone involved adopts them wholeheartedly and conscientiously. For example, an information database is only useful if everyone who uses it contributes to its upkeep. Staff at productive nonprofits understand the importance of productivity tools and consider it a part of their job description to use them properly. 

How to Implement Productivity Tools

So how exactly do you get buy-in from everyone? The most important place to start is with leadership. After all, they're the ones approving the new expense. 

The first step is to try out the new tool. Most tools have either a trial version or a free limited version, so take advantage of this opportunity. Use the new tool for a month and, if you can, ask a few colleagues to try it out with you. 

Then, be prepared to speak to your manager about the difference you saw in your productivity and your overall experience. Get your colleagues to weigh in, as well. Together, you can make a case for why this new app or software would be a valuable addition to your organization's toolkit. 

Before you present your case to leadership, be sure to research pricing and other details, such as which plan would work best for your organization and what it would include. Many companies who develop these tools also offer a considerable nonprofit discount, so don't forget to check for that — it may just be the difference between a yes and a no from leadership. 

Once leadership agrees to implement the new tool, the most important thing they can do is lead by example and encourage everyone else to get on board. You can help by providing your superiors with everything they need to adopt the new tool and start seeing its benefits for themselves.

 

13 Super Productivity Tools for Nonprofits

Now, without further ado, here are 12 productivity tools your nonprofit could benefit from. The list is sorted alphabetically and includes the pricing and highlights of each tool, so you can decide which ones will be most effective in helping you boost productivity

1. Airtable

  • Great for: Staying organized
  • Use it to: Keep track of information and share it with collaborators
  • Cost: Free basic version, premium plans start at $10/month billed annually; eligible nonprofits can apply for a 50% discount

Airtable

Do you work with a lot of data? Have you created countless spreadsheets to keep track of project plans, campaigns, budgets, collateral inventory, vendor contact information, mailing lists, and everything in between? Do other people need to access these spreadsheets but never know where to find them?

If this sounds familiar, Airtable may just be the tool you never knew you needed. It looks just like a spreadsheet — it's familiar and intuitive to use — but it's so much more powerful than that. 

With Airtable, you can keep all your important data in one place and separate it with tabs, relate databases to each other, add fields like attachments and checkboxes, and automate data entry. You can also set up different views like grid, calendar, gallery or kanban, and invite team members to view or collaborate.  

 

2. Asana

  • Great for: Managing projects
  • Use it to: Collaborate with team members and meet deadlines 
  • Cost: Free basic version, premium plans start at $10.99/month billed annually; eligible nonprofits can apply for a 50% discount

Asana

Do you manage projects that have many steps and contributors, such as fundraising campaigns and events? Do you find it hard to stay on schedule and keep everyone in the loop?

Asana is the project management system that helps teams stay on track and meet deadlines without feeling stressed and overwhelmed. 

It allows you to create comprehensive plans for recurring projects your nonprofit may face, like your annual gala, the publication of your annual report, your board meetings, and anything else that requires multiple steps to plan. You can then break these projects down into smaller steps, work backwards from the final deadline to create milestones, assign tasks to your team members, check on their progress, share files and conversations, and much more.

Once you've created project roadmaps that work, you can come back to them again and again, making sure your campaigns, publications, and events run smoothly year after year. 

 

3. Board Director

  • Great for: Board management
  • Use it to: Communicate, collaborate, and share documents with board members all in one place
  • Cost: Free 21-day trial, plans start at $299/month; eligible nonprofits can apply for a 50% discount
Board Directory Productivity Tools

Do you struggle with important emails from board members getting lost in your inbox? Does your board often miss notes from you for the same reason?

If you run into issues communicating with your nonprofit board members, Board Director could be a good solution for you.

 Board Director is a portal that allows nonprofit workers and board members to share information, collect documents, collaborate, and schedule board meetings all in one place. No more digging through your inbox to find that important meeting date!

With Board Director, you get a snapshot of all the board’s activities. You can also post your nonprofit’s latest updates to keep the board well informed, and save documents (think governance docs and financial statements) in one spot for easy access.

   

4. Dropbox

  • Great for: Team collaboration
  • Use it to: Send, receive, and store large files
  • Cost: Get 2 GB of space free with a basic account; upgrade to Plus for 1 TB for $12.99/month; contact for special nonprofit pricing

Dropbox Productivity Tools

Do you work with a lot of large files at your nonprofit? Do you struggle with sending big images or PDFs via email, or even use a flash drive to move files from one computer to another?

 Dropbox is a free file storage solution that helps you access files from anywhere with ease. You can send and view videos, documents, and other files from any device (all you need is an Internet connection). 

Simply upload your file to your Dropbox account, and email a link to your recipient. No more waiting for files to upload to a server, or getting flustered looking for large files lost to the depths of your inbox.

 

5. Focus Booster

  • Great for: Getting rid of distractions
  • Use it to: Enhance your concentration
  • Cost: Free starter plan; premium plans start at $4.99/month
Focus Booster Productivity Tools

Do you have too many tasks on your to-do list? Feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start?

That’s where Focus Booster can potentially help. This app can help inundated workers kick procrastination to the curb with a digital timer. Based on the Pomodoro Technique, the app breaks tasks and your workday into shorter work intervals (traditionally around 25 minutes) with short breaks in between.

Working in sprints with frequent mental breaks can help increase concentration and keep you mentally refreshed — which ultimately makes you more productive.

 

6. Integromat

  • Great for: Automating tasks
  • Use it to: Connect apps and automate workflows
  • Cost: Free basic version, premium plans start at $9/month

Integromat

Do you use a lot of different tools in your work? Do you find yourself completing endless small tasks to make sure information across all of them is up to date? 

Integromat is like a personal assistant that will complete all these tasks for you, so you can focus on checking off more important to-dos. 

For example, do you need to keep track of event RSVPs that come through via email? Integromat can automatically add new email messages to a spreadsheet. Or maybe you'd like to create a new event in your calendar every time you add a new deadline in your project management tool? Integromat can do that, too. 

Integromat works with hundreds of apps commonly used by businesses and nonprofits, including WildApricot, so you can let it do the tedious work while you focus on the big picture. 

   

7. LastPass

  • Great for: Keeping track of passwords
  • Use it to: Manage all your passwords in one place
  • Cost: Free entry-level version, premium plans start at $4.25/month billed annually

LastPass Productivity Tools

Where do you keep track of all your passwords? Do you keep them all in a Word document saved somewhere? Or maybe written on a piece of paper?

If you’re looking for a secure way to keep all your passwords in one place, LastPass could be a viable alternative to writing them all down (which is a security risk).

Here’s how it works: Just install the Google Chrome extension. Create one master password (they recommend a long passphrase that’s easy to remember). Then click “Sites” in the toolbar and manually add sites that require passwords. LastPass will save the passwords for these sites as you log in, so that all you’ll need to remember in the future is your master password.

From there, you’ll only need to log into LastPass to access all those password-protected sites.

 

8. Loom

  • Great for: Remote collaboration
  • Use it to: Send quick video messages to your team
  • Cost: Free basic version, premium plans start at $8/month billed annually

Loom

Sometimes you only need two minutes of someone's time to explain something, so calling a meeting is unnecessary. On the other hand, an email won't suffice because you need to show them something on your screen — it would take too long to type out and probably be too hard to understand. 

That's where Loom comes in. It allows you to record quick videos of your screen and/or yourself, then send them to your team members using a secure link. It's like being in a mini Zoom meeting, but without any connection issues or time-wasting off-topic tangents. 

Whether you work remotely, collaborate with people outside of your office, or simply want to avoid asking your colleague from another floor to come see something on your screen, Loom is great tool to adopt.

9. Shift

  • Great for: Streamlining accounts and workflows
  • Use it to: Access email, messaging and other apps all in one place
  • Cost: Free basic version, premium plans start at $99.99/year; eligible nonprofits can apply for a 30% discount

Shift

Do you have a million tabs open at any given time? Are you overwhelmed by all the ways people can reach you — email, Teams, Slack, Facebook Messenger, etc — and tired of trying to keep up with notifications? 

Shift is a desktop app that allows you to access everything in one place. This includes various email accounts (great for people who manage a public facing email account in addition to their own), messaging apps, calendars, social media profiles, and any other apps or websites you use on a regular basis. 

Shift includes a web browser, so you can organize your browsing and online work, as well, helping you stay focused and productive. 

 

10. Trello

  • Great for: Project management when multiple tasks and people are involved
  • Use it to: Keep track of all your tasks and track their progress
  • Cost: Free entry-level version, premium plans start at $10/month billed annually; eligible nonprofits can apply for a 75% discount
Productivity Tools for Nonprofits Trello

Do you work on multiple projects at once and constantly juggle deadlines? Do you frequently work with team members to see projects through to completion?

With Trello, you can keep track of to-dos, deadlines, and progress, all in once place. 

Trello is a simple project management tools that gives busy nonprofit workers an easy way to visualize their team’s tasks. You create a card for each task, add any notes, assign it to the right team member, and set a deadline, then place the card in the appropriate column. Many people set up “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done” statuses in different columns. Organizing tasks is really simple — just drag and drop each card as it goes from in-progress to complete.

 

11. Unroll.Me

  • Great for: Decluttering your email inbox
  • Use it to: Unsubscribe from emails and consolidate newsletters
  • Cost: Free

Unroll.me

Do you dream of getting to "inbox zero"? Are you buried in emails and spending too much time trying to dig through the mess?

The truth of the matter is, most of the emails you receive are probably irrelevant to your work and don't need your attention (i.e. like from that time you subscribed to a vendor's emails so you could get 10% off your order). Unsubscribe from the clutter so you can easily find emails that actually matter and get more done. 

Unroll.me is a completely free tool that lets you do just that. Simply log in using your email credentials, scroll through the list of emails you're subscribed to and unsubscribe with a single click. It takes less than 5 minutes but will save you hours in the long run. 

For the emails and newsletters you'd like to keep (but never seem to get around to reading), Unroll.me allows you to consolidate them into a single email that you receive on your own schedule. Keep your inbox clutter-free and check out your subscriptions guilt-free, on your own time. 

12. monday.com

  • Great for: Team productivity
  • Use it to: Organize, coordinate, and track your nonprofit operations
  • Cost: Basic plans start at $24/month. We offer a 2-week free trial and some nonprofits may be eligible for a discount

A screenshot of monday.com, a nonprofit productivity tool

Are you looking for a way to generate social impact while simplifying and streamlining your nonprofit operations in one place?

monday.com is your go-to Work OS for all of your nonprofit needs, from fundraising campaigns and volunteer engagement to end-to-end project management. This visual and dynamic platform boosts your productivity with the capabilities to automate routine tasks, centralize communication, and assign owners and priority in a snap.

With robust integrations offerings and the ability to create dashboards and reports with ease, you can spend less time searching for multiple tools and more time making an impact. 

 

13. WildApricot

  • Great for: Managing and communicating with members
  • Use it to: Register new members, accept online payments, communicate with members, set up events, etc.
  • Cost: Free basic version, premium plans start at $43.20/month billed annually. 
Productivity Tools for Nonprofits

If you’re any type of organization that manages members (club, nonprofit, association, etc.), you probably find it difficult to keep track of who’s paid, or who’s been to which event, not to mention duplicated, erroneous, and out-of-date contact entries.

WildApricot’s all-in-one membership management software can be a huge time-saver. It’s comprised of a drag and drop website builder, emailing system, contact database, and event platform. The best part is that everything can be done online, so you can scrap manual data entry forever.

WildApricot also has a free, 30-day trial for anyone wishing to test out the system. You can access the trial simply by clicking here.

 

How WildApricot’s Automated Features Save You Time and Money

Imagine you had an army of robots doing all the grunt work for your nonprofit — things like updating your website, processing dues and donations, registering people for events, etc. This way, you could actually spend more time advancing your mission and building meaningful relationships with your community. 

That’s exactly what WildApricot’s Membership Management Software does for you — it works like an army of robots automating all your admin work in the background. Many organizations report saving 20 hours a week or more in administrative work.

If you’d like to save this kind of time too, I encourage you to start your free, 30-day trial of WildApricot now.

WildApricot features

WildApricot has dozens of other features that can help you save time including:

  • A membership directory
  • Multiple membership levels
  • A mobile app to manage your organization on the go
  • Donation collection and a donation goal meter
  • Member summaries
  • Financial reports
  • Online store
  • Free, unlimited support
  • And more! 

 

Other Types of Tools for Nonprofits

The Membership Growth Report:

Benchmarks & Insights for Growing Revenue and Constituents

Get the report now!

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Comments

  • Heather Banikas:
    Great information. Very informative. Found a couple of errors below (which are marked with *):

    "So what does a productive nonprofit look like? Nonprofits who don't waste time *on* administrative tasks have the following:"

    "Not to mention, when people don't have a good sense of how long they (delete second *they*) can take or how much feedback they should (delete *to*) give, things tend to get stuck in the approval stage for much too long."

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