Top digital tools for small charities
Sophie Millward, VAL's Administrator, offers up some of the best free digital tools that can help make life easier for small charities
We in the VCSE sector are constantly looking for new ways to be more efficient, cut costs, and deliver more. Digital tools take up no extra space, cost very little, and can streamline all manner of processes to save man hours.
This list comprises some of the best digital tools we’ve encountered, to help ease your workload, encourage creativity, streamline staff communications and more. For bonus points, integrate your apps for hassle-free workflows. The majority of these are available in their basic form for free, with ‘premium’ features available for what is usually a monthly cost.
Email, data and databases
Google is the rising powerhouse of the internet, and for good or bad it has infiltrated every area of life. If you are on a budget, Google’s tools are free and cloud-based (meaning you can access your data anywhere):
- Gmail: email
- Drive: cloud storage
- Docs: word processor
- Sheets: spreadsheets
- YouTube: videos
- Hangouts: live chat with video calling feature
- Analytics: a challenge to learn, but very useful if you have a lot of online services hosted directly on your website, such as donations and bookings
Most of these are compatible with other big name software, and they are mobile-friendly for on-the-go working.
2. Salesforce CRM
Salesforce is the world’s biggest CRM (customer relationship manager). It’s also free for up to 10 users. This one may require initial investment for customisation and training; but in return for this investment, you’ll have a database that’s also a full client management system, with automated processes, scheduled reports and more.
Zoho is another CRM with a 10 free users deal. Less complex than Salesforce if your needs are simpler (eg just contact storage and communications); plus it integrates with Gmail.
Events and projects
Eventbrite is an online booking system for events of all shapes and sizes. Free events are free to post; a paid-for event will incur a % fee to Eventbrite per ticket sold. It’s easy to learn and has excellent help pages for newbies.
Trello is a super-simple project planning tool, with a visual layout built on the premise of the humble noticeboard. Create a board then add sticky notes with lists, photos, deadlines and checkboxes, plus collaborate with colleagues. Free to use, with paid-for premium features.
Asana is a more in-depth project management tool. Create your project, then add tasks, deadlines, assign other users, and attach documents. Track the progress of your project by ticking off completed tasks. There’s also a chat feature to communicate with your team.
Free to use for Skype to Skype calls, you can cut your phone bills and your email time by using this handy app on either PC or mobile. Download it or simply use in your browser. It also has a chat feature for when you need to be more discreet.
Slack is comms re-envisioned for the modern staff team. It works like the humble chat client, but better - create subject-specific channels, attach documents, images and emails, and set privacy levels. Conversations are automatically archived, creating a knowledge centre for your team. It’s free, and mobile-ready, so you can stay in touch from anywhere.
Interests.me is a new platform designed specifically for small non-profit groups with limited technical capacity, as a free and simple way to share your information. Post a blog, add events and create newsletters for email or print. You can also join a larger community for wider reach and links with other local groups. Take a look at the Lewisham community.
Free to use for the basics, Canva is a simple online tool to create all kinds of publicity. Select a template, drag-and-drop from the library of images (or your own), then add text. Share your designs with others for feedback; or download in a variety of formats for web or print.
Want to create videos for YouTube or your website? LiteCAM is a simple, free downloadable tool that can capture video, audio or both, plus allow you to trim the finished reel.
Need help finding out more about how to set up and start using these tools? Email Sophie at firstname.lastname@example.org and she'll put your name on a list for a digital surgery planned for October.