Starting a nonprofit organization can feel daunting at times. We wrote a bit about those initial steps here.
Let's say you have already started your nonprofit and are looking for software and tools to help you manage and grow your organization.
As you evaluate your software options, you should consider prioritizing tools that reduce your monthly burden so the software scales with you as you grow.
This guide will show you some cost-effective tools for small nonprofits.
A CRM (Central Relationship Management) platform should be the first platform you consider as you're growing your nonprofit organization.
There are many platforms that are designed as nonprofit CRM's, but the problem with those is they often require you to pay $100+ per month and get very expensive as you scale.
If you're primarily relying on building a list of supporters and emailing them to raise money for your organization, it's not ideal to spend $300+ a month when you are emailing more than 5,000 people.
If you fall into this category, you may want to consider using an Email Service Provider also as your CRM. Platforms like MailChimp and ActiveCampaign have robust communications platforms that also include a free CRM.
Cost: Free for under 2,000 subscribers; $75/month for under 10,000 subscribers
Nonprofit fundraising software
When considering a donation processing platform, you should think about it in a similar way to how you think about a CRM. Your ideal platform will not have a monthly cost or annual contract associated with it.
Your cheapest option will be an option like Stripe. Stripe offers a fee discount for nonprofit organizations. Stripe is great, but Stripe does not provide the landing pages for you to raise money. It does not make it easy for you to manage transactions and deposits either. Typically, most nonprofits will use a platform with a monthly cost on top of Stripe to do these functions.
We may be biased, but here at Anedot, we believe you should have the best of both worlds. We do not charge any setup or monthly fees, only a small processing rate. You are still able to avoid the monthly cost and annual contracts but have an affordable rate that scales with you.
Cost for nonprofits: No set-up or monthly fees, 3.3% + $0.30 per transaction for credit cards, PayPal, and Apple pay; 0.3% + $0.30 per transaction for ACH
For basic event management needs, Anedot can do that for you as well at no additional cost! We allow you to set ticket prices, create custom fields, and send automated receipts.
If you want an alternative option though, you should consider Eventbrite.
Eventbrite makes it easy to create and manage an event and they have an event directory where others can search for events that match their location or interests. This could be valuable to you as you're growing your organization. For these benefits, however, you will be paying a premium.
Cost: No set-up or monthly fees; 4.5% + $0.79 per sold ticket
Supporter recruitment (petitions and surveys)
As you're growing your organization, you may want to build your email list without requiring someone to give a contribution.
Typically, a list of emails and phone numbers is the lifeblood for an organization to grow. In that situation, you may use lead pages, petitions, and surveys to build your email list.
Anedot allows you to build these types of pages for free inside our platform without knowing a single line of code. The page builder is drag and drop and is very easy to use.
On top of that, you can use our free text to give option so potential supporters can text a keyword to a phone number to receive the link to a survey page in their messages.
Cost: Free for non-donation pages and text to give
Many supporters are more likely to give to your organization if they know the company they work for will match their gift. This is where Double the Donation comes in to play.
Double the Donation creates has an easy to use plugin that you can embed in the donation process so a potential donor can check to see if their employer will match their gift.
While very useful, Double the Donation does have an annual cost that may be substantial to your organization. It may make sense to start utilizing the platform once you have donors who request information about corporate matching.
Recommendation: Double the Donation
Cost: $499 per year
As mentioned earlier in the CRM section, the key to choosing your communications platform is scalability. It's not ideal for the technology you use to penalize you as you grow.
If platforms become extremely expensive as you grow beyond 2,000 contacts, then they probably aren't ideal for your organization.
Here are some options where the costs stay reasonable even as you grow:
As a small organization, relying on an IT staff is cost-prohibitive. You need an easy to use CMS (Content Management System) that will last for years.
WordPress is by far the best option for this. As an open-source option, WordPress has dozens of plugins and options to make it easy to manage your website.
WordPress websites can be hosted cheaply with companies like DreamHost and you will not be punished for growing your contact database.
Cost: Free; Additional fees for premium themes and hosting
This was also mentioned in the CRM section, but MailChimp and similar platforms can solve your needs in multiple ways.
If you're looking for the lowest cost email and are managing your data elsewhere, EmailOctopus is a good low-cost alternative to MailChimp.
Cost: Free for under 2,000 subscribers; $75/month for under 10,000 subscribers
Text messaging is quickly becoming as important as email to communicate with supporters and potential supporters.
Tatango prides themselves on messaging workflows and subscriber segmentation, RumbleUp is focused on Peer-to-Peer texting deliverability, while CallHub has some of the lowest pricing in the industry.
If you're doing a heavy volume of subscriber texting, Tatango is probably your best option, but RumbleUp is worth a look if you are focused in the space of political advocacy.
As a nonprofit with a limited number of subscribers, you may want to consider CallHub.
Cost: $0.034 per text to send, $0.012 to receive
Many nonprofit organizations will overlook the importance of keeping a lookout for mentions about their brand.
For a long time, Google Alerts was the best way to do this, but there's an alternative that's even better.
Talkwalker Alerts will track all of your brand mentions on the internet. This includes news platforms, blogs, forums, websites, and even Twitter. It will send you daily alerts directly to your email so you don't have to think about it. Even better, it's free!
Recommendation: Talkwalker Alerts
When looking for nonprofit accounting software, attracting donations for revenue is extremely important, but so is managing expenses.
A long-time player in the market, Quickbooks Online is the best option for nonprofit accounting as it allows you to combine donation management, financial statements, and more into one place.
If you're looking for an alternative, Aplos is another option to consider. Aplos includes fund accounting and integrates with payroll options like Gusto.
Recommendation: Quickbooks Online
Cost: Starting at $12.50/month
Nonprofit human resources
If you've begun hiring employees and need an easy way to pay them in a compliant manner, then you should consider a cloud-based Human Resources platform.
Among the many options out there, we have found Gusto to be the best of the bunch.
Gusto makes it easy to onboard, pay, insure, and support your employees. It's kind of a one-stop shop to ensure you're properly managing your team.
Cost: Starting at $19/month + $6/mo per person
As you are planning events, conducting marketing campaigns, and building your organization, you will need a way to manage all of these activities.
This will include a way to build and collaborate with spreadsheets, a way to conduct conference calls, and a way to assign tasks to team members.
Here are some tools that can help you do that:
When you consider project management tools, cost, flexibility, and ease of use should be your top priorities.
This is an extremely competitive space where there are literally dozens of options. Some popular options include Trello, Asana, Monday, and ClickUp. All of them offer free plans that include most of what you will need.
Out of these options, we recommend ClickUp. It's the most flexible platform with excellent support. Better yet, their unlimited plan is only $5/month, which is far cheaper than their competitors.
Cost: Free; $5/month unlimited plan
Office suites including documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows are likely familiar to you already.
Both of their strengths and weaknesses. Microsoft's Excel and PowerPoint desktop products tend to be better than Google's cloud products, but Google's cloud products tend to be better than Microsoft's.
Google tends to have better collaboration products and Gmail is usually preferred over Outlook. Both products also include free video conferencing software.
If you choose to go with Microsoft for Excel and Powerpoint, you will end up paying $12.50 per user per month. This includes 1TB of cloud storage to manage your files.
However, we recommend you go with Google's Workspace product due to its better collaboration features. You have the option of a $6 per user per month plan for 30 GB of cloud storage per user or $12 per user per month for 2 TB of cloud storage. Both plans also come with video conferencing.
Recommendation: Google Workspace
Cost: $6/month per user
This may be overlooked by many, but as you've probably realized, you may use a lot of different software platforms as a nonprofit depending on your needs.
Connecting all of these platforms will be important to ensure none of your data is missing.
While Anedot and most other platforms have native integrations with Mailchimp, some of your platforms may not connect together. When this occurs, you may want to consider utilizing Zapier.