I continue to be amazed at how many tools there are out there for organizations to use — many of them absolutely free. Here are a few of my favorites:
Facebook’s new Nonprofit Resource page
Facebook has (finally!) created a page especially for nonprofits which helps organizations understand the resources available to us. For those who don’t know the difference between a page, a group and an event, this bud’s for you. These are clearly explained, along with information on how to create content, how to grow your connections, and how to use Facebook ads (hey, can’t blame them for trying to generate a little revenue, can you?).
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the tool I’m using right now to write this blog. There are lots of blog sites out there, but I’ve never had the need to look elsewhere. Wordpress is easy to use, flexible, and the stats are tremendous. And, you can also create websites on WordPress, choosing from an impressive array of templates (and customization options for the brave). This makes WordPress the go-to resource for integrating blogs into websites. One thing to note: WordPress.com and WordPress.org are related platforms which offer different features. Here’s a comparison.
Online survey tools
I’ve been using SurveyMonkey for years, but WordPress has created a worthy rival, PollDaddy, who’s main advantage is that it can interface with WordPress sites. Both sites allow you to send out basic surveys (10 questions max and minimal analysis tools) to limited numbers of people (100 respondents per month) for free. Upgrades for both start at about $200 per year, which you gotta admit is a small price to pay, considering you can use a survey for anything from a board vote to market research.
Do me a favor. Go here, right now. Do what it tells you to do. It takes five minutes and allows anyone who finds your location on a Google map to see enhanced information about your organization, including your website, mission, operating hours and photos. All for free. You can thank me later.
Of course, cool tools are just toys unless you integrate them into your marketing plan and your operations. Selecting the tools that work for you has a lot to do with who works with them and who uses them. I think that a question each organization should ask is, who is going to be maintaining this (blog, facebook page, website, survey account) a year from now? If you don’t know (and don’t know if it will be you), don’t get too fancy. If your audiences aren’t techno geeks, don’t load up your website with flash animations that will load slowly and send them running to another website.
And here’s a final caution: don’t think that you can’t do this. I know too many organizations who think they can’t improve their website or start a blog until they get a “someone with web experience” to design it for them. The only trouble with that is, the “someone with web experience” who sets up your site may not be around to help you troubleshoot — and of course, nobody knows best what should go on your site or blog than you do. Go for it. Jump in with both feet.
What tools do you like?