35+ Free Tools for Nonprofits

Philip Manzano • Nov 26, 2019
the best free tools for nonprofits

We know that the nonprofit sector doesn’t have a lot of money to throw around. And that’s why we’re tempted to make do with obsolete programs and technology. While most freemium nonprofit resources are rather limited, there are still quite a few that give you real value. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the best free nonprofit resources in each category and explain how you can get the most value from each of them.

Writing and Blogging

1. Hemingway

Make your writing bold and clear with this app. 

Let’s face it – your communication is only as good as your writing. Effective email, websites, and snail mail all depend on impactful, clear prose. Hemingway will help you ensure your writing is powerful, emotive, and clear. This free tool will grade your work, tell you if you use the passive voice (a marketing no-no), and offer suggestions when your writing is too complex. Pretty amazing!

hemingway app

2. Grammarly 

Never make a grammar mistake again with Grammarly, an AI (or Artificial Intelligence) powered writing assistant that identifies grammar, style, spelling, wordiness, and punctuation mistakes. 

It’s like an old-school spelling and grammar check tool elevated to a whole new level. Grammarly can help you write well and avoid plagiarism every time you put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

3. Medium 

Start a Medium blog and join the growing community! 

Medium promotes the site as a content platform for the curious reader who loves to learn. It uses machine intelligence to determine what content to show you. When I searched for the term “nonprofit tools,” I found multiple pages of engaging content – but my search for “nonprofit resources” returned even more. Some were tools, others opinion pieces but Medium promises to serve up well-written, well-researched content from creative thinkers. 

Remember that anyone can write on Medium, so it’s always worth checking the author and their affiliates to understand their bias.

4. Editorial Calendar

This free WordPress plugin helps you see all of your posts on a convenient calendar. 

When you commit to writing a blog, sometimes the hardest part is staying on schedule. This is a plugin, which means you use it in conjunction with WordPress (one of the more popular website and blog management tools). 

Editorial Calendar will keep your blogs and other content on track, letting you manage, edit and reschedule each piece of content easily in one place. When it comes to free nonprofit tools, plugins like this one can save you many hours per week.

5. Egg Timer 

Need help staying focused on your writing? Use this timer to set regular working intervals and stay on track.

This free tool is extremely simple, but that’s what we like most about it. Simply set your timer, hit start and it will count you down. It’s amazing how focused you can be when you know a timer is running!

Have you heard of the Pomodoro technique for productivity? It suggests you are most productive when working in 25-minute intervals separated by a short break. Egg Timer has a Pomodoro timer to help you get in the zone.

6. CoSchedule 

This free tool is a blog post headline analyzer.

 Your blog title is critical to converting traffic to readers and readers to donors. CoSchedule will help you ensure your headlines are effective, powerful, and bold. Additionally, it will teach you how to write great headlines for all your posts. A powerful title will catch your ideal donor’s eye and ensure they pause long enough to read your content.

Graphic Design and Video Tools

7. Canva 

Want to feel like a designer? Canva makes it easy! I have been hearing about Canva a lot these days, so I finally dug into what makes it so amazing. Canva is a simplified graphic design tool that uses basic drag-and-drop functionality. It enables even the most aesthetically challenged person to design beautiful content.

Interesting fact: Canva, based in Australia, is one of the country’s first unicorns. This means the company has been valued at over a billion dollars. Started in 2012, it’s run by the youngest-ever female founder of a unicorn-status company. Rather inspiring, if you ask us!

canva is free for nonprofits

8. Pixlr 

This simple photo editor will make you feel like a pro! 

While it doesn’t have all the features of a professional design program, such as background removal, Pixler does offer the basics, including fill, crop, blur, and smudge tools. This editor requires flash to be enabled, and some browsers will block it. But you can enable it by clicking on the tiny “blocked” icon in your browser bar and following the prompts.

9. DesignWizard 

Create personalized images and video designs in minutes. 

Design Wizard is similar to Canva but focuses more on video editing and creation. So if the video is your priority, this could be the perfect free tool for you.

10. Vidyard 

Have you ever wondered how to create a personalized thank-you video for your donors? We’ve found the perfect tool for you!  

Vidyard is a video hosting platform, but the beauty of it is its Chrome extension tool. Vidyard has a free screen and webcam recording tool that makes it really easy to create videos on the fly. Plus you can track who’s watching it. 

This makes it incredibly easy to create personalized videos and send them via email with just a few clicks.

11. Social Image Resizer Tool

Create optimized graphics for social media. 

Everyone has suffered the challenge of trying to make the ideal image fit within a social media post. This tool will ensure every picture is sized to perfection. While it may not be the most beautiful interface, the tool works and does what it promises. You can’t really ask for more!

12. Looka

Looka Logo Maker is an AI-powered tool that helps you create a custom logo in minutes. You don’t need any prior design skills or experience to use it. All you need to do is enter your company name and industry and select some logo samples, colors, and symbols you like. The tool then uses these as inspiration to generate logo designs that you can customize. 

13. Pablo 

Create engaging social images for all of your channels using this free tool. 

Similar to other word art tools, Pablo lets you get a little creative and choose your image, font, and style. Additionally, it allows you to size your new word art for the exact social post it is intended for. Simple!

14. Colorcinch

Colorcinch is a cutting-edge photo editing tool that harnesses the power of AI to transform your images into stunning works of art. With an array of creative filters & effects and photo editing tools, you can effortlessly crop & resize, recolor images, remove & change backgrounds, add overlays & frames, and turn ordinary photos into cartoons, drawings, sketches, and more!       

15. Image Upscaler

A user-friendly hub for creative image transformations.
Image Upscaler enhances image quality effortlessly with advanced algorithms for upscaling low-resolution images while retaining details. It’s perfect for personal or professional projects, offering convenient solutions for print, display, and sharing. The site also provides tools for deblurring, background removal, face blurring, and photo and video effects.

16. Picsart

Easily eliminate image backgrounds using PicsArt’s AI-powered complimentary Background Remover tool

Generate, modify, replace, edit, and craft transparent backgrounds seamlessly—all within a single solution! Enhance your creativity by effortlessly transforming your images, and explore a wide range of possibilities for personalized and captivating visuals.

Stock Photography

17. Pexels 

Pexels is an amazing collection of beautiful, professional, and free photos. They offer these pictures for free by suggesting you promote the photographer or send them a donation, or you do have the option of doing nothing at all. This approach lets newer photographers develop their portfolios while also earning a little along the way. For nonprofits, Pexels offers free images that are impactful and professional.

The only downfall is that you do have a smaller selection than some of the paid image platforms like Shutterstock. Instead of 300 images returned for the average search, you might only get 20. But hey – did I mention it’s free?

18. All The Free Stock 

This site is a collection of free stock content, from pictures to illustrations to doodles. They aggregate free graphics from a number of different sites all in one location. This ensures you get a large volume of images on every search. They do advise users to check the licensing on the item they are interested in, but overall the content is well-designed, professional, and free.

Did you know that finding and using an illustration or image that is not yours without the right license is actually infringing on IP laws? You must have the right license to use the content for any commercial undertaking – nonprofit missions included. Sites like this offer a ton of valuable content and simply ask that you consider making a donation to support the project.

19. Unsplash 

This tool provides free high-res photos that you can do whatever you want. It’s another fantastic site to source professional, high-quality pictures for all your marketing and fundraising needs.

20. Here are a few more great sites with millions of free images: 

Branding and Logo Design

21. Logaster

Get a professional logo for your organization or project. 

This site offers professional-looking branding for free. You can take it as far as you like, but the design and logo creation is quick and easy and looks pretty sharp. It’s definitely worth looking at if a new logo or branding project is on your horizon.

22. Flat Icon 

This free tool is a search engine for 16,000+ vector icons. It’s a great place to start for free images.

If you’re building your website or developing marketing material and need uniform icons (drawings that signify an idea) like learning???? , love????‍❤️‍???? or sushi ???? You can find it all here!

flaticon free tools for nonprofits

23. Material Design Icons

This site offers 750 free open-source icons and glyphs from Google to meet your design needs.

24. Font Awesome 

A lot of the icons you see on your favorite websites likely use this iconic font and CSS toolkit! You can choose basic access, which is free, or a paid version for access to everything.

25. Brand Studio by Crowdspring

Brand Studio by Crowdspring is a completely free tool to create marketing assets like business cards, brochures, signs, invoices, and more all in your brand style within seconds, including brochure templates available.

You simply enter your website or upload your logo and Brand Studio builds all the marketing assets in your brand colors, fonts, and creative style.

Brand Studio makes it easy to create a consistent brand identity to tell your nonprofit’s story in a way that creates awareness and excitement.

Productivity Tools 

26. Keela

We may be a bit biased… But we believe that nonprofits both big and small can have a HUGE impact on the communities they serve.

Keela Starter is a FREE Donation Processing Tool that allows nonprofits to take advantage of the core features like donation forms, automatic tax receipts, and a centralized donor data pool (and more!) that have helped our clients improve their fundraising and bring in more donations. Keela Starter empowers an organization to put every last penny towards what really matters: achieving its mission.

27. Trello 

This visual project management tool helps nonprofit teams stay on task using boards.

 It allows you to see current and future tasks and collaborate easily with your team. While Trello has some limitations when compared to more robust project management software, it’s a great place to start and refreshingly easy to learn.

trello for nonprofits

28. Evernote 

This workspace allows you to keep important information in one central location, take notes, collect info and share it with anyone.

Evernote is a well-known and popular platform because it’s well-designed and easy to use. The free version offers plenty of functionality and storage, so give it a go.

29. Dropbox 

This is a great place to store and organize your nonprofit’s files. It offers free space up to 2GB. 

You can store any kind of file here and share it easily with anyone from anywhere. It’s a great central storage space if you need to collaborate with others.

30. Slack 

Slack is a must-have chat tool for modern nonprofit teams. It makes collaboration easy and powerful, and the free version offers unlimited users and many features. 

Slack is the best choice if you need real-time, instantaneous online communication. It keeps your team’s conversation private and allows you to invite other users as needed.

31. Google Hangouts 

Bring conversations to life with photos, emojis, and group video calls.

 This free tool is great for keeping remote teams connected. If you want to have a long-distance call without paying long-distance fees, use Hangouts.

32. Asana 

This project management tool will help your team get more done and work more efficiently. 

Asana is the authority when it comes to powerful project management and collaboration software. It offers a robust set of tools to help you organize documents, stay on track and hit deadlines. If you stick with it for the first 14 days, research shows you will begin to save time and accomplish more with this powerful tool.

33. Zapier 

Zapier is THE tool you need to automate your workflows. Zapier connects the apps you use every day to increase the overall speed, consistency, and visibility of your work. There are thousands of different uses for this – from sharing posts on social media to automating your emails and data-entry in your spreadsheets. In fact, Zapier integrates with more than 1,500 applications including Gmail, Mailchimp, Google Sheets, and much more. 

Let’s take a look at how you could use Zapier to facilitate administrative tasks. Let’s say every time a donor makes a donation larger than $1,000, it’s your organization’s policy to add them to a spreadsheet tracking major gifts. With Zapier, you don’t have to do this manually. Any time someone makes a major donation online, this donor will be automatically added to your major gifts spreadsheet – making sure nothing slips through the cracks. 

The basic plan is free and includes 100 automation tasks per month. 

34. Calendar 

Calendar is a Scheduling software that allows anyone to choose and book a meeting time directly into your calendar. Most importantly, Calendar will prevent pre-existing or conflicting meetings from being scheduled at the same time. It’s a huge time saver!

Calendar offers a free plan for nonprofits.

35. Buffer

Nonprofits use social media to create meaningful connections that drive people to donate or volunteer. Creating these connections takes time and dedication, and managing social media across multiple channels can be a daunting task. 

That’s why you might consider using a social media management tool like Buffer. With Buffer, you can save tons of time by scheduling your posts across different social channels, getting the full picture of your content calendar in one dashboard, and tracking the success of your social campaigns. 

The free version offers one social profile per network – compatible with Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. You can also register for their special program for nonprofits and get a Buffer Publish Plan for 50% off. 

36. Eventbrite 

You’ve probably heard of Eventbrite – whether you’ve bought a ticket for a local concert or hosted your own fundraising event. It’s an amazing (and free) event management tool.

Did you know it also has a cheaper processing fee for all nonprofits? Not only you can ask your supporters to pay the processing fee, but they can actually pay a much smaller amount than a normal ticket would cost. 

On top of that, Eventbrite gives you the freedom to add custom questions to your event tickets. You can track important information, like allergies or meal choices, while also giving your supporters the option to add a donation to their purchase along with their event. ticket

Last but not least, Eventbrite integrates with many nonprofit CRMs – including Keela. It means that you can track who is attending your events and segment attendees for targeted, personalized communications.

37. Milanote

Milanote is a tool for organizing projects into beautiful visual boards. Just like working on the wall in a creative studio, Milanote offers a visual and tactile way to put together projects. It’s a perfect collaboration tool for small nonprofit teams.

Check out how people are using Milanote here

Surveys and Feedback Forms

38. Typeform

Build beautiful surveys and forms with Typeform. Did you know that collecting data is one of the only effective ways to make consistently good decisions? You owe it to your donors to be effective with their money. Typeform will allow you to create effective and professional surveys that you can use to learn more about your donors, volunteers, and the people you serve with at your mission. Typeform will tally and report on your results so you can simply review and move forward, taking the right next step.

39. Free Survey Creator 

This survey tool is a little different from Typeform in that the tool converts a survey you make into a line of code you can embed into your website. Here is an example: you add a new page to your website describing a detailed case study of one of your most recent projects. As a reader clicks away from the page, a survey may appear asking them the following:

  • Yes, this is exactly what I want to see more of
  • Sort of, but I would love to see more ___________
  • Not at all, this is not where I feel my donations should be spent

You can gather data from people who come to your site and compare this with the growth or decrease in donations. If the number of website visitors is increasing but donations are decreasing, you may have a communication problem. A survey like this will shed light on the issue.

40. Jotform 

Jotform is another survey platform we really like. It’s easy to use and it has over 5,000 beautiful templates to choose from. If you want to give a sleek and professional look to your survey, you can also build your own template and use your brand colors and logo. You can use JotForm for event registration, volunteer signup, post-event surveys, sponsorship forms, and much more! 

The best part is that Jotform offers a special discount for nonprofits – 50% off all their packages if you’re ever interested in a premium version. You can always use the free version if it fits your needs. 

How would a nonprofit use these free tools?

Free tools are an amazing resource for budget-conscious nonprofits. The challenge, or should we say opportunity, comes from knowing which ones to adopt. There are thousands of tools available today, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Here we will offer some scenarios and provide some guidance so you can start on the right track.

1. A nonprofit hosting an event

The team created strong messaging using the free Hemingway App. Once, they had strong prose and positioning, they created a poster for their event using  Pixlr. They made sure to get some great, free, stock photos from  Unsplash. To keep track of this project, they used the free version of  Asana. And to keep everyone communicating, they used the free version of  Slack.

Without spending a cent, the team was able to create strong messaging, produce event collateral and manage the project.

2. A nonprofit launching a new fundraising campaign.

The team wanted to figure out what programs were most important to their donors. They crafted a set of questions and used Grammarly to ensure their copy was concise and clear. Next, they created a free account on Typeform and designed a beautiful survey to send to donors.

The nonprofit sent out the surveys via email, allowing donors to quickly click through responses and making them feel valued by asking thoughtful questions about their donation preferences. The organization sent the survey in a drip email campaign using a free MailChimp account. They made sure to include a fundraising request in those emails and made notes about the responses and insight in Evernote.

Relying solely on free nonprofit tools, the team was able to source valuable information from their donors in a beautiful survey and solicit funds in an attractive email.

It is important to understand that for a small nonprofit, these free tools will amplify your effectiveness and reach. Once you identify the tools you will use to grow, your organization will need to invest in an all-in-one system that will help you scale and expand your impact.

A patchwork of free tools is step one – a custom, integrated nonprofit CRM is step two. If you’re interested in learning how a nonprofit CRM like Keela can help you grow, schedule a free demo today!

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