Sunday, June 14, 2009

Some More Free Resources For Your Nonprofit Office...

Cutting costs is really important, any time, but also right now because of the economy. Money, spent today on office or administrative needs could, if replaced with free services or products, be diverted to your nonprofit's programs and services; and we are here to help.

Below are some free resources that just might really work for your agency and replace some of your current expenses or needs for free! [Most of the following products offer their services or products for free up to a certain number of users (limit) or up to a certain number of services/products features - but I am recommending them for their quality, ease of use, and free price. Please definitely be sure to read about any product that you are inclined to sign up for, before signing up for it (or them)].

dimdim.com
is meeting software that is free for up to 20 users (that means 20 people logging into a virtual online meeting). What's more...their product is excellent. It provides all of the ease of Web Ex and all (and more) of their service options such as Power Point (or other) presentations, a virtual white board, group work space, the ability to record meetings and presentations, and more. For a list of the features that the free web conferencing version offers, please see the link, above.

Microsoft Windows XP Pro/Office 2007's Access (database software that is a part of the Office software suite) includes, among other potential helpful free databases in their template library, a free donor database (which can also be used as a template to individualize and tailor to your organization's own needs, or you can use it 'out of the box', as it is a ready to be use database). Whether your nonprofit simply needs a donor database and does not have one, yet, or if your organization is looking to customize a donor database; this maybe the solution for you because for Office 2007 users, the database is a free download. Having the ability to analyze, cull together, and utilize data on the fly makes having a database invaluable to nonprofits. It increases the ability to see which fundraising campaigns are success and which are not, it allows the organization to drill down to one donor and thereby increase the relationship and connection between the individual donors and the organization, and it allows you to find a sub group of the whole donor base such as asking 'which donors gave $100 or more over the past two years'. Click on the link at the beginning of this paragraph to see more. I have yet to use this database, but I have looked at it while reviewing the ability to customize it, for a client, and it looks great.

If your organization has computers but has decided to forgo the cost of operating system software and the cost of a software suite (e.g. spreadsheet, word processing, Internet browser, e-mail, and calendar, etc. software product) by using a free operating system, such as Ubuntu operating system, and Firefox's free web browser, Mozilla and its free e-mail client Thunderbird; you can then also download (among other options) the also free OpenOffice.org software suite. These are open source software which means that there is no licensing or fees associated with downloading and using these products. After years of use, updates/upgrades, protections, etc. - these, today, are really excellent products and they are free! I personally use Firefox's Mozilla and like it better than Microsoft's Internet Explorer (though, I have yet to buy and download Windows 7 which everyone who has tried it is raving about). My husband uses Ubuntu and swears by its ease of use and stability.

If your organization is often on the phone, even long distance or on international calls, there is free phone service, over the Internet, available from Skype which also offers free Instant Messaging and other communicative services. Even their more dedicated-lines paid service is extremely cheap - it's less than $3 a month. I use Skype for both local and international long distance phone calls and Instant Messaging (as do my husband, friends, and family) and we all really like it. It's free, or if paid for is cheap, and easy to use. Google Talk is also a free phone call service.

Idealist.org offers nonprofits a very user friendly way to both market themselves, recruit volunteers, and help communities be aware of your upcoming services and events. Nonprofits are invited to register their organizations, thereby making potential volunteers aware of your agency and their ability to help you out, and also list any upcoming events or programs, etc. Idealist is well known, liked, and respected in the nonprofit sector and a 'must' to list your nonprofit on, for free. Each and every client that we work with gets a recommendation, from us, to list on Idealist if they haven't.

Techsoup.org provides nonprofits without the means to purchase new software at either deeply discounted prices or acquire it for free. They, too, are well known, liked, and respected in the nonprofit sector and an excellent tried and true resource for many a nonprofit that, in order to provide the work of its mission statement, needs a ridiculously priced software package to deliver the best services/products that it can. They also assist nonprofits in getting donor databases, volunteer management databases, and more. Most, if not all, of our clients have used Techsoup.org to acquire very pricey software for their organizations at one time or another. People really appreciate their service.

If you know of other free or extremely assistive resources that can and do assist nonprofits to provide the quality of work that they wish to at either deeply discounted or free pricing - please comment, below, and share this information with the nonprofit sector. Thank you, in advance!

4 comments:

Marilyn Fried said...

Hi Arlene,
I follow you on twitter and checked out this post. I am new to grant writing, having working as an attorney and in health care (RN). Recently moved to Chicago area and would like to create a grant writing consulting business. Thanks for the tips.

All the best,
Marilyn
twitter id: mpf2011

Arlene M. Spencer said...

Marilyn,
You are very welcome and thank you for your kind compliments! I wish you the very best in your work for the community! Keep in touch as you get your business going. Best, Arlene

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of SSuite Office?

They have a whole range of free office software for download. Their software also don't need to run on Java or .NET.

http://www.ssuitesoft.com

Arlene M. Spencer said...

Anon, Thank you for sharing your suggestion! Arlene