If you’re about to start fundraising online – or if you’ve been looking for ways to up your fundraising game – building a great stack of online tools is essential.
Big or small, every nonprofit needs to consider certain aspects of the online experience when starting or improving online fundraising. This can go from the obvious – like your website – to things like accounting software and password managers.
It’s important to consider not only how donors interact with you online, but how your staff and volunteers interact with each other. Maybe you’ve moved to a more virtual set up in the last year, or maybe you just want to streamline your processes. Either way, there are hundreds of software options out there that are perfect for nonprofits.
We asked Taylor Waldon, Content Strategist at GiveWP, what software she thinks is essential for nonprofits.
“Asana is great for project and task management. Mailchimp is a strong email marketing tool with great pricing for nonprofits, and I love Salesforce! While social media isn’t really software, I would argue it’s essential in the nonprofit tech stack.”
We must say, we agree!
Let’s take an individual look at some of the most essential kinds of online tools your nonprofit needs. Cost is always a factor for nonprofits – so most of these tools are free or have special pricing options for nonprofits. In choosing these tools to recommend, we also kept in mind feature choice and ease of use.
Remember – no software is one-size-fits-all. Use this information as a jumping off point to begin building your custom nonprofit software stack!
Content Management System
A content management system, or CMS, is what you use to build and edit your website. While it’s possible to hire a developer to build a custom website for you, it can be faster and more cost effective to use a CMS to build your own website!
At Cloud22, we obviously recommend WordPress as the top CMS choice for nonprofits. The WordPress.org open source software is a fantastic option if you’re prepared to DIY the majority of your website experience.
There are numerous reasons WordPress is perfect for nonprofits:
- Customization. Your site needs to be unique to your organization and mission. The design needs to complement the emotional tone that you want to convey when fundraising online. You don’t have to be a professional designer or developer to launch a website that works well and looks great. The plugins and themes available through WordPress allow you to build the site that suits all of your needs.
- Educational resources. While you can (and should) hire someone to help you with your website (especially when it comes to security!) you can do a lot of the work yourself. The WordPress community is overflowing with educational resources in virtually every format you can think of. From YouTube videos to live meetups and events to active support channels… there is a way for you to get your questions answered.
- Cost: Believe it or not – WordPress is free! The main costs associated with a WordPress website are the hosting and domain name. Great hosting plans start at about $100 per month and a domain name will typically run you less than $20 per year. There are thousands of free themes and plugins. You can always spend more on premium themes and plugins, but the up front cost to get started is very low!
- Ownership: These days data ownership is essential when operating online. Consumers of all kinds – including donors – are more educated than ever before and they want to know that their payment information is always safe. With other CMSs and fundraising software, you don’t always own the data 100%. With WordPress, all data either lives on your hosting server or off-site within a payment processing system like PayPal or Stripe. When you own that data, you can ensure that it’s safe and always know what is being done with it.
- Integrations: A website needs to serve as the central hub for all the activities you do online. WordPress is the ideal solution when looking to accomplish this. Whether you want to automate how your social media, your accounting, or your marketing connects to your website, there is almost always a way to do it! WordPress is the single most popular CMS in the world. As a result, most other tools and software will have a way to connect to it.
When accepting donations online, there are many options out there. We recommend two, depending on your needs.
If you’ve decided to use WordPress, we recommend GiveWP. It is the leading donation plugin for WordPress, with over 100,000+ installs and a 4.5 star rating. It’s free to begin using and allows you to take donations directly on your website using Stripe or PayPal.
It has a nonprofit friendly pricing system for addons; if you need additional services like Recurring Donations or Fee Recovery, the cost to add those to your site is doable for most organizations. One of our favorite things about GiveWP is the fact that you can take donations for multiple causes directly on your site without redirecting your visitors.
DonorBox is a good option if you don’t want to take donations on site, but prefer to use a 3rd party. (There is also a WordPress plugin available!) The pricing is a little steeper, but it pays for itself with a suite of options and features. With Donorbox you can accept monthly recurring donations and put the management of those plans in the hands of your donors.
All of the information associated with your nonprofit needs to be kept under lock and key. You may be dealing with highly sensitive or private information taken from donors, staff, volunteers, or the people that your nonprofit serves.
When launching your website, take a look at the security options available to you. Your host should offer a suite of security services that are focused on preventing hacks and breaches. If you’re using WordPress, look into security plugins like Succuri. Any person that is responsible for updating or managing the website should be highly versed in how to find and report security issues. A good security tool should not only prevent hacks and breaches, but be readily available to provide emergency support if needed.
The more accounts that you have online for managing your nonprofit, the more passwords you will have! Make sure that you have a way to keep those passwords saved. We like 1Password, a password manager that stores and helps you share credentials with your team. The cherry on top – 1Password offers 50% off of team plans for nonprofits!
Remember – while nonprofits and for-profit businesses have many differences, they both need marketing! Marketing allows you to get the word out about all the amazing things your nonprofit does. This keeps volunteers and donors coming to you on a regular basis.
If you collect email addresses from anyone – like at events or through fundraising – you should be using those emails in your marketing! This doesn’t mean you need to spam people’s inboxes constantly. But use a tool like MailChimp to collect, store, and organize email addresses, as well as to email your audience on a regular basis with important updates.
The pricing structure at MailChimp does vary, starting with a free plan. But if you need paid features, MailChimp offers a 15% discount to verified nonprofits!
You may also be marketing on social media. If you don’t have a professional graphic designer on call, you can develop and send out your own posts pretty easily using online tools! Unsplash and Pexels are two excellent resources for finding stock imagery for free. Pexels even has a library of stock videos!
Put it all together with Canva. Canva is a free tool that provides you with the ability to quickly make eye-grabbing social media posts. The UI is incredibly simple and comes with hundreds of templates for posts. It even provides ideal image sizes for different social media platforms so you never have to worry about optimization.
While no accounting software can fully replace a professional accountant, it’s a good idea to have software on hand to help you organize what’s coming in and out of your organization. A good accounting software will allow you to develop systems and produce reports that you can then give to your accountant.
The right accounting software should be affordable, easy to learn and use, and suited for the unique needs of nonprofits.
We give a ton of credit to Investopedia for coming up with this top list of accounting software for different kinds of nonprofits:
- Best Overall: QuickBooks Enterprise Nonprofit
- Best for Small Organizations: ACCOUNTS from Software4Nonprofits
- Best for Large Organizations: Financial Edge by Blackbaud
- Best for Donation Tracking: Sumac by Silent Partner
- Best Cloud-Based Solution: Araize FastFund Accounting
- Best for Volunteer-Led Organizations: MoneyMinder
Internal Documentation and Communication Software
As the world shifts to being more and more online, your team should, too. While face to face is always great, there are some great options for conducting internal tasks online.
G Suite for Nonprofits is a fantastic way to combine a ton of services in one. It’s free for nonprofits and comes with professional email addresses at your website’s domain, video meetings, 30 GB of cloud storage, security controls, and standard support. You get email, Google Drive, Google Calendar and a whole lot more.
In addition, if you’re looking for a software that will help you track tasks or the progress of projects, check out Asana. Verified nonprofits save 50% with Asana, so you can get the same features while saving more. Companies like The Y and United Way use Asana for their internal task tracking.
The software allows you to collaborate on plans, conversations and files across your entire team. It’s beautiful UI is easy to learn and use so you can build workflows, automate processes, and achieve your goals.
Have you tried any of these tools? Which ones are your favorite? How have they worked for you? Let us know in the comments or tweet at us: @cloud22com
Remember that your website is the main hub of all your online work. If using WordPress, the hosting you choose can ensure that your site is always up, looks great, and performs fast. We definitely count good hosting as a top priority within your software stack.
Cloud22 Managed WordPress Hosting checks every box. We manage your updates – making sure that when your theme developer releases an update or patch, you get it right away. We back up your site, just in case you make a wrong move in your theme settings. Our servers are integrated with LiteSpeed cache and Cloudflare CDN, so the beautiful design you used your theme to build is served to visitors quickly.