I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there are enough hours in the day to ever get my work done.
My to-do list is a constant battle between my ability to cross things off the list and the to-do’s that keep making their way onto it.
I am always looking for new tools and technology I can use to make my life as a one-man business. The tools I use need to be powerful, effective, and easy to learn and use.
I put this list of my favorite free online tools for nonprofit professionals to use together for you. I hope these tools will save you as much time as they have saved me.
These tools are free at a certain level but have a premium component to them. That means that, up to a certain point or level, you can use their service for free but, if you want to unlock more features or greater customization, you have to pay.
These tools are great for smaller organizations that don’t have huge amounts of traffic, income or subscribers and are really helpful if you are trying to run things on a minimal budget.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer
Getting someone to click on a blog post is most of the battle when it comes to getting a reader to do something. How do you write a good title for a blog post that will immediately draw someone in and get them to click? By using the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer of course! This free tool by CoSchedule looks at your current blog title and tells you how attractive it is to readers. Then, it gives you tips on how to improve it! You can tweak small changes in the headline and see how that change impacts the score. The higher the score, the more likely it will be to attract readers when they see the title!
Obviously, this tool does not guarantee that your blog traffic will suddenly go through the roof, but it will help you get a better handle on how to attract readers to your page.
Once you get someone to your blog though, the writing has to be great! Grammatical mistakes can turn readers away or make it seem like you don’t know what you are talking about. Enter Grammarly!
Grammarly is a website that acts just like a text editor online. There are a lot of these available online but what makes Grammarly different is their Chrome add-on. This add-on for your web browser checks your writing for spelling and grammatical errors as you write online. If you have an error, it will let you know by underlining it in red right on the page. This is great not only for writing blog posts, website content and emails, but it also works on social media! No more spelling errors in your social media posts again!
Speaking of social media, this next tool has been a lifesaver for me. I struggle with social media the most when it comes to NPO.lib. I can post content or respond to shout outs no problem. The issue is staying focused and not getting sucked down a rabbit hole of cute animal pictures! Something that should take me a minute to do ends up taking me 15 – 30 minutes, every time!
Then I found HootSuite. HootSuite is a tool that allows you to link all of your social media profiles to one dashboard. You can see what people are posting about you, any hashtags you follow and can post to all your social media profiles from it! You don’t actually have to log on to Facebook or Twitter to post which means no cute distractions to suck up your time!
The free version of HootSuite is perfect for small nonprofits with a few social media profiles. As you expand your social media presence, they charge for more profiles. But they give you three for free, which is pretty great!
They also allow you to schedule your posts. You can load up your dashboard with up to 30 posts and then watch them get sent out automatically. It is a great resource that I have been using for years!
Another great resource I have been using for years is one of the first I ever used for my consulting business. A nonprofit has to let its followers and supporters know what it’s doing right? Social media is one way to get an event invitation or an appeal in front of your followers, but what if they miss it? How do you get that message in front of your list of followers without competing with those cute animal pictures we were just talking about?
Email marketing is how my friend! And how do you send personalized emails to your list of dedicated fans for free? With MailChimp! This email-marketing tool prides itself on its ease of use, high email delivery rates, and casually fun branding. Using your own email address, you can use their software to design and automate emails, newsletters, event invitations and more.
Their merge tags let you customize each email with a subscribers information, which means more personal emails. So instead of getting “Dear friend” as the email introduction, a subscriber named Charles would get “Dear Charles” in the intro. The more personal the email is, the more connected the subscriber will feel to you.
MailChimp is great because they also provide expert advice on how to improve your emails. Want to learn how to write a good subject line? Boom, blog post. Need to learn how to add your current subscribers to their system? Coming at ya!
They have a huge library of simple to understand articles that show you how to use MailChimp and how to write good emails in general. I have been using MailChimp for over 4 years, implemented it with many clients and have sent over 10,000 emails. I have not paid them a dime. In fact, I have not even come close to hitting their threshold yet!
Go Get Em!
These four tools have saved me countless hours and reduced my stress more than I ever thought possible. Even implementing just one of these tools will help you make your day to day workload just a little bit easier!
What free tools do you use daily to make your life easier? Is there something that I should check out? Let me know over at the NPO.lib Community Facebook Group, the place for nonprofit professionals, staff and volunteers to chat, get feedback and support each other. Or just let me know in the comments below!
Build Your Donor List, No Matter Where You Are In The Process
Founder at Reed Community Consulting and NPO.lib
Brandon helps people help other people. He has over 10 years experience working with small and medium-sized nonprofits in two countries in many different sectors. He has worked at all levels of organization from entry-level service delivery up to the executive director and board president. This experience affords him insight for whole level management of an organization, which he transfers to his clients. In his free time, he likes to play volleyball and spend time gardening with his wife and dog.