As someone who works at a nonprofit, I know what it’s like to not have the budget to buy all the “pay to play” communications tool that bigger businesses might have.
This list is for nonprofits, small businesses, student organizations, and any other group that needs to improve their communications without increasing their budgets.
**I am an affiliate for a small number of the platforms listed below and may earn a small commission for your signup—at no cost to you. I believe in all of these platforms and use all of them during my daily work as a communications professional.**
You can download, install, and activate this plugin then have sharing buttons on all the blog posts on your website in literally 3 minutes.
This plugin constantly checks your site for broken links and missing images for website management peace of mind.
The free version works great, but if you apply, your nonprofit might be able to get the business version for free, which opens up all kinds of possibilities.
Infogram is a good option for quick graphs. The site even generates the code you need to embed an interactive graph on your site. (You’ll need to pay if you’d like to remove their branding.)
If you don’t have pictures to go along with your social media post, Legend (a mobile app) is perfect for creating quick, beautiful GIFs/videos that increase engagement.
This mobile app has its flaws, but Facebook Pages Manager has just about everything you could ask for in a free app including scheduling, the ability to broadcast a live video, and the capability to post to any of your pages in one place.
Tweetdeck, a web app, allows you to schedule Twitter posts to go live while you’re away from the computer, including posts with images. It’s reliable and straightforward.
If you don’t like the Twitter and Facebook scheduling tools listed above, then you might like Hootsuite. The paid option allows you to manage more accounts, but the free version will get you by, especially if your goal is cross-posting the same content across multiple accounts (not ideal, but often the reality in small nonprofits).
It’s free and Grammarly’s amazing Chrome plugin has prevented 1,131 grammar errors for me since I signed up in 2017.
Files & analytics
If your organization already uses Gmail, then the rest of Google’s tools integrate almost flawlessly.
Set up Google Alerts not only for the name of your nonprofit but also terms surrounding your mission. This way, you’ll get an email notification every time something newsworthy happens in your field, AKA a constant stream of social media content ideas.
Yes, Bit.ly shortens links, making them prettier. But it also adds tracking. Generate a shortened link with Bit.ly to track who is navigating to your site through a particular social media post, newsletter ask, etc.
Free team collaboration tools
Asana is a lot like Trello but with a lot more features. If you’re focused on one project at a time, Trello is great. But we all know that the communications field is so rarely, if ever, like that. Asana gives you so much more flexibility. Just be sure you don’t create so many projects you’re completely overwhelmed!
Slack is a system designed to streamline your team’s internal communications. It’s a definite upgrade to your typical office G-Chat. If you have remote workers who aren’t often in the office, moving your team to Slack for group communication is definitely worth a try.
**Note: These are all amazing tools and very comparable. It’s easy to argue about which one is better, but the system that will best serve your team is the project management system you can get your whole team on board with. Stick with just one at a time and make sure everyone is using it on a daily basis.
Email & signups
Signup Genius has a bit of an outdated look, but the free version is pretty solid. It also sends automated email reminders to participants. In my opinion, it doesn’t feel nearly as spammy as some other free signup tools.
Mailchimp’s Forever Free plan is probably the best and most popular email tool out there for nonprofits that don’t have room for a paid bulk email service in their budgets. But once you have over 2,000 email subscribers, you’ll have to move to their paid service. Plus, their “Knowledge Base” guides are awesome no matter what email platform you use.
MotionMail’s free account will allow you to create a countdown timer that you can both use on your emails and on your webpage. These are so easy to create—no coding knowledge required!
Comment with any free communications tools that you think should be added to this list.
Interested in more helpful information on this topic?
Choose “Digital communications” when you sign up for my email list. Your information is private and you will only receive emails relevant to the topics you want.