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How to Spot Useful Nonprofit Tech Tools — And 3 You Can Use Today

Artie Shlykov 20 August 2019 3 comments

useful nonprofit tech tools

 

This is a guest post by Amy Neumann, founder of Free Tech for Nonprofits

 

As a professional in the nonprofit space, you’re all too familiar with the drumbeat of new tech. 


If you’re looking to increase membership or donors, engage volunteers, or any of the other key activities nonprofits strive towards daily, you’re probably always on the hunt for newer, faster, better ways. 


There are articles and headlines everywhere, talking about the latest technology and tools… but how are you supposed to know which ones will be most effective? 


Over more than two decades of working with nonprofits and other organizations, I have found some common ways you can determine whether a tech tool is needed. 


A tool is truly useful for achieving your goals if it:

  • Minimizes wear and tear (and boredom or burnout) for humans (examples: automating the rote tasks or organizing)

  • Increases effectiveness (example: tracking and managing data to measure outcomes)

  • Saves money (example: removing unnecessary steps in processes)

  • Frees up time (examples: automatic responders like chatbots)

  • Helps people understand your work and mission (example: compelling visuals and storytelling)

  • Better connects you with your community or clients (example: language and translation tools)

  • Enhances your skills (example: online courses)


But where should you start? 


If you’d like to learn my methodology for determining a shortlist of tools, read on! 


And if you’re looking for a deeper dive and additional tools, please join me for the “8 Super Easy Tech Tools to Grow Your Membership and Motivate Your Volunteers,” offered by Wild Apricot on August 27 at 2:00PM ET. 

How You Can Pick The Right Tech Tools


Here’s a quick way to create a quality shortlist based on what tools others have found most useful in real life. 

  • Try doing a quick search for “Best tools to ______ [whatever you are trying to do] for nonprofits” or similar.

  • Scan a few credible blog articles that result and see if some of the same recommendations pop up consistently.

  • Use Capterra, a review site for software, and compare those tools through recommendations for performance overall as well as for ease-of-use, value, features, and support.


Just in the past few months, I used this process to find a new mobile-friendly dynamic webpage proposal tool called Qwilr, and a text-for-information service called Betwext. 


These two tools allow organizations to let people text a word and receive a link to a “digital brochure” that can easily be edited in real-time without updating a website. It’s a simple way to reduce the need for printing pamphlets and staying updated with information that changes often.

Three Tech Tools You Can Try Today


The tools listed below might help you accomplish some common nonprofit goals better, faster, easier or more efficiently. Once you have identified a specific need, there are usually several solid technology tools available to help with your task. 


1. Increase your knowledge and skills with TED Talks (and other online learning resources). 


TED has thousands of free videos from global experts (and incredible speakers and storytellers) on almost any topic, sharing “ideas worth spreading”. There are numerous lists online of best nonprofit TED Talks to start with, or you can search for something specific. 


If you’re looking for more specialized knowledge, you can also take free or inexpensive classes (many similar to college courses) on an array of topics through sites like Udemy, Coursera, Lynda (now LinkedIn Learning), CyberWise, Microsoft’s Digital Skills Center for Nonprofits, CodeAcademy, and Think with Google


In fact, at the moment, I am taking Python coding classes (to converse better with AI developers) on CodeAcademy! It’s intuitive, simple, and can be done for a few minutes or a few hours as time allows.


2. Communicate better with Duolingo. 


This language learning app has 22 languages available to learn, all free. If you have clients or community members who speak different languages, Duolingo is a fun, fast way to pick up some basics in only a few minutes a day. I’ve been learning German this way for about six months, for about 10-15 minutes daily — and have learned more than 2000 words! 


3. Reach more people through Google Ad Grants. 


If you are a 501(c)3, you may qualify for Google for Nonprofits. Once qualified, in addition to G Suite and other tools, you can get up to $10,000 in-kind Google Ads per month. This lets your organization to easily be found when someone is actively searching for and interested in your type of organization, which can potentially lead to stronger awareness, more members, more volunteers, and more donors.


This is a personal favourite and I use it for my own nonprofit, Free Tech for Nonprofits. Through the free AdWords program, a large number of people have connected globally with us with both offers to provide services and technology for free to other nonprofits (if you provide free technology for nonprofits, drop me a line!) as well as from people looking for resources. 


Much matchmaking has been done, and none of that would have happened except that they did a Google search for free nonprofit technology and my organization came up for them to find, right at that moment of inspired action-taking. 


Now you have a cheat sheet for how to spot useful tech, the steps to get started, and a couple new tools to use. 


If you would like to hear additional use case examples and more applications of tech tools that solve common nonprofit challenges, please join my upcoming webinar, “8 Super Easy Tech Tools to Grow Your Membership and Motivate Your Volunteers,” offered by Wild Apricot if you want some real world example on August 27 at 2:00PM ET. 

 


amy-neumannAmy Neumann is a social good fanatic, striving world changer, and entrepreneur. Amy founded a startup nonprofit called Free Tech for Nonprofits in 2017 and is CEO of the social enterprise consultancy Good Plus Tech, with a focus on emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence for social impact.

Artie Shlykov

Posted by Artie Shlykov

Published Tuesday, 20 August 2019 at 4:20 PM

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