Free Resources For Nonprofits

Free resources for nonprofits and  charities. These are all the free resources that I have collected while working with nonprofit organizations. Oh, and did I mention – they are all Free!

Free Web hosting

Dreamhost – I use this site for a number of my clients. They provide many, many tools, very reliable web hosting, and incredible customer service. I highly recommend Dreamhost for your web hosting needs. To sign up you simply need to fax them a copy of your 501c3 designation letter.

Free Content Management System

Content management systems (CMS) are the back end to your website. You need one of these so you can make changes to your website content (the words, pictures, links) without paying a web designer for every little change. Most web hosts provide One Click installs. You just pick which system you want and they install it automatically for you.

WordPress – One of the most common CMS. It was originally a software for blogs but has grown so powerful it can be used for full websites. WordPress is my CMS of choice and I use it for all my clients.

Joomla & Drupal –  Both of these are gaining in popularity. They provide much of the same ability of WordPress but take it a step beyond allowing extensive customizability. You will need a programmer and designer to help you set these up. They are powerful tools and can do a lot, but they also have a pretty steep learning curve.

Free Donations

Paypal – This is the leading provider of an easy to use easy to set up free donation button. They do charge a small fee for processing credit cards, but that’s pretty standard. I frequently recommend this for small or new nonprofits. It’s well established and has name recognition with almost all online users.

Square – This services allows you to take credit card donations via your phone with a free little square device that plugs into the phones headphone jack. It’s absolutely essential if you have fundraising events and want to take donations at the event or sell merchandise. As with Paypal there is a processing fee, but there are no monthly fees, and usually they’ll send you the little square dongle for free.

Free Web Services

Unsplash.com – Free high-resolution photos. These incredible photos are all under the Creative Commons Zero license, which means you can use them however you want without asking permission or needing to provide attribution to the photographer. Only check this one out when you’ve got an afternoon because you will lose yourself browsing through the amazing images.

Online Backup – Backing up the data on your computer is essential. If you’re not doing it, there is no excuse. Start now! There are several free online services that offer basic backup. Each of these are really simple to use and will take you only 30 minutes to set up. They all use standard encryption so your data is kept private. Each gives you a specific amount of back up space free. If you go over you can pay a small monthly fee for more storage. You can try any one of these iDrive, Dropbox, or Google Drive.

Salesforce.com – Salesforce is a well known customer relationship management software for the for profit sector. They also offer a special set up for non profit donor/volunteer management. You can get a 10 user license for free if you are a 501c3. This is a comprehensive program that you should definitely take a look at, but, be forewarned, Salesforce is a monster of an application and even with their nonprofit starter pack you’re going to need some training to fully utilize it.

Free Email Marketing

MailChimp – Free email marketing for up to 12,000 emails per month and 2,000 email addresses. This is my preferred email service. They’ve got easy to use software, great support, and great pricing if you go over the 2,000 email address limit for the free account.

Vertical Response – Provides email marketing. Up to 10,000 emails per month free for nonprofits. I use these guys for a few of my clients who don’t need to send out more than 10,000 emails per month. They have easy to create sign up forms you can put right on your website or Facebook page and a visual email editor making it easy to create your email blasts.

Free Email For Your Organization

Google Apps – Google actually provides a whole suite of services called Google Apps. I think one of the most useful features in this suite is the ability to attach your domain name to the Gmail web service. Essentially you can use Gmail but have it look like it’s coming from your own personal domain name. Thus you don’t have to worry about all the overhead of maintaining your own email server. All you need to do is sign up for a Google Apps account. Free of course for nonprofits.

Dreamhost – Once again in addition to their free web hosting, Dreamhost also provides direct email service automatically with their web hosting account. They also offer a really easy way to have all your email go to a Google Apps account. http://wiki.dreamhost.com/Nonprofit

Yousendit.com – Most files you can simply email. However, most e-mail services have a size limit to attachments. For anything bigger you can use this service for free.

Free Advertising

Google Grants – You may not have heard of Google Adwords, but you’ve almost certainly seen it in action. Google Adwords is Googles advertising network that you see on Google search results and a large percentage of websites. Google offers up to $10,000 per month of free advertising via their ad network for nonprofit organizations. I use it for a number of my clients it and it drives about half of all traffic to their websites. In order to get the advertising, you need to apply for a Google Grant and then wait upon Googles response. I don’t know how many organizations they accept, but I’ve never seen an application denied.

If you know of any other free services for nonprofits let me know in the comments below.


 

22 thoughts on “Free Resources For Nonprofits

  1. Your site was very helpful! It offers great resources for non-profits and doesn’t have a lot of bull that you have to read throught ot get to the “good stuff”.

    Thanks alot!

  2. HostGator is a great host with amazing amounts of space, but their free website service is only for one year, then you have to reapply.

    Dreamhost is similarly very generous with space and resources, but customer service for their nonprofit program isn’t the most responsive. I’ve had several low-literacy clients give up (but it was easy for me to “make it happen.”

    I work with some amazing not-for-profit, all-volunteer groups than can’t get a 501c3 — groups of undocumented immigrants doing fantastic work; faith-based groups doing AIDS work that don’t dare use their church’s 501c3 or have a public board — and Vertical Response has been very cool about giving them free email without a 501c3 (after proof and verification from a related 501c3).

    Thank you, NonProfit Sucess for this great resource list. Lastly you might want to add:
    (1) TechSoup.org’s very cheap software
    (2) WePay.com (can sell virtual services like theater tickets and the interface is much better designed than PayPal.com and doesn’t require sign in like Google Checkout
    (3) YouTube’s nonprofit program which gives 501c3’s full access to their paid services, including adding links inside videos– i.e. have a “make a donation” and “learn more” links at the bottom of your videos, and much more.

    1. Elise,

      Thanks for the kudos, and the additional resources I’ll be adding them to the list.

      As far as Dreamhost and Hostgator go, yes, a nonprofit would still need either a web designer or someone on staff/volunteer who know some basics in order to get set up and running.

      I’ve been considering recommending, a more all in one service like the free wordpress.com or pay squarespace.com but haven’t quite decided if either really works all that well for a nonprofit yet.

  3. I’m a long time volunteer for SCAN (stop child abuse and neglect) in Ft. Wayne IN. We’re trying to put together a program to improve client/consituent relationship and quality service training for our staff of just under 100. Are you aware of any customer service training programs & materials that are geared to non-profits and also available for free or very minimal expense? This is a great little site. Thanks!

    1. Valerie,

      MailChimp is an excellent choice. I use them for a couple of email campaigns I run and I really like them. They do offer a free trial for a limit amount of email subscribers on your list. So it’s definitely worth checking out.

  4. You web site is very helpful and has me a lot of good leads. Do you or anyone else have any tips of how to get free of discounted photocopying? We are a small organization and that is a challenge for us. Thanks so much!
    Tam

    1. Tam, my suggestion would be to go around to some local independent copy shops and just ask. The worst that they can do is say no. You’re probably not going to find a place that will do the photocopying for free, but sometimes they are willing to do it at cost, which can be a significant discount.

  5. Very helpful post – thank you! There are a growing number of free services that offer online backup and shared online folders, and you mention a few. I like SugarSync (www.sugarsync.com). Also EverNote (www.evernote.com) has an interesting way of accessing and sharing your notes, no matter what computer you’re using.

  6. What an awesome find. Please keep us updated on anything else you find. I’ve favorited this page. Thanks for helping the 501c3 community out.
    ALOHA FROM HAWAII

  7. Just an FYI – hostgator doesn’t offer free web hosting:

    Chat ID: 6349783. Question: Do you offer free hosting for not for profit organizations that are NOT 501c3?
    (3:20:18pm)System:Customer has entered chat and is waiting for an agent.
    (3:22:17pm)Jorge S.:Welcome to HostGator Live Chat.
    (3:22:37pm)Jorge S.:Let me get an answer for you.
    (3:25:55pm)Jorge S.:Unfortunately we don’t offer free hosting!

    1. Thanks for the update on that Kathy. Seems like they have decided to stop offering the free hosting for non-profits. I’ll update the page to reflect that.

  8. Thank you so much for providing this list. I was able to use this to setup a website (with my limited knowledge) for a small non profit in a very short amount of time. Thanks again.

    1. Allan, I’m not sure what your referring to. But they still offer their entry level service for free. Currently as long as your list is under 2,000 emails you don’t have to pay.

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