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 – both Dreamhost and Hostgator above – 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.
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, unless your Google Checkout below. I frequently recommend this for small or new nonprofits. It’s well established and has name recognition with almost all online users.
Google Checkout – One of the primary goals for an organizations website is to receive online donations. Most online donation processors will charge you monthly fees as well as per transaction fees. Google Checkout waives both of those for nonprofit organizations. Their set up is much like Paypal if you’re familiar with them. You put a button on your website that says “Donate” which will take users to the Google Checkout page where they can enter their credit card information and the money is sent to you. One caveat, in order to get Google Checkout free you first need to apply for a Google Grant, it’s free and most organizations are accepted, but it may take a few months to be approved. So plan ahead.
Free Web Services
Flickr – A site for uploading, storing, and sharing photos. Flickr can be used two ways, it’s a great place to post photos from your organization to share with the world. Check out this great post on how to use Flickr by Techsoup for some more ideas. Flickr can also be used to find free photos under the creative commons license. Some of the photos under the creative commons license are free for you to use for non commercial purposes. Just be sure to read the info on different license types so you know which photos are ok to use and which aren’t. Techsoup also offers deeply discounted pro accounts for Flickr – not free, but at $6 per year still quite a bargain.
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 of these gives you 2GB of storage for free. If you go over you can pay a small monthly fee for more storage. You can try any one of these MozyHome, iDrive, Dropbox
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.
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.
Dreamhost – In addition to their free web hosting, Dreamhost also provides an email blast service. They call it an Announce List. It’s not as full featured as Vertical Response, but it works and allows you to stay within Dreamhost.
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.
Yousendit.com – Most files you can simply email. However, most email services have a size limit to attachments. For anything bigger you can use this service for free.
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.