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Free or Discounted Tech Tools for Nonprofits

Free and Discounted Tech Tools

In the spirit of giving, we'd like to share some free and discounted tech resources for nonprofits. Whether you're looking for an email marketing platform, software and licenses for your office, or tech training, there are a variety of resources available to nonprofits at discounted rates.

MailChimp is a great resource for organizations interested in getting their message out through email marketing campaigns. It allows you to send up to 12,000 emails a month to up to 2,000 subscribers for free. And if you need to reach more than 2,000 subscribers, you can purchase a plan and receive a 15% non-profit discount. Learn more about MailChimp's non-profit discount here.

Looking for software? Techsoup provides a wide range of donated and discounted software, hardware, and online trainings for nonprofits. Whether you need a server for your office, some training on Microsoft tools, or software for your team, Techsoup may have what you're looking for at significantly reduced prices. In fact, their website advertises that "The average nonprofit saves $12,000 on technology products over the course of its TechSoup membership."

Need some tech advice? Idealware.org provides a wealth of articles and presentations regarding tech decisions for your nonprofit. Their content includes how-to articles, pro and con reviews, tech trends, tips, and more.

If you want to get started with online advertising, Google for Nonprofits offers $10,000 per month in Adwords grants for eligible nonprofits! They also offer a variety of services including email, Google Drive, and YouTube for Nonprofits, among others. Learn more at Google for Nonprofits.

What nonprofit discounts does your organization enjoy? Share with others in the comments below. 

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A Few Helpful Resources to Improve Your Year-End Giving Campaign

We've scoured the web and found several great resources to help you out when approaching your year-end fundraising campaign. Whether you've been planning for months, or you're just getting started now, you can find several helpful tips in the posts below:

1. "6 Fundraising Psychology Hacks You Need to Know" by Allison Gauss This one's a quick read with some insightful thoughts to consider when approaching your donors with a year-end appeal. 

2. This Year-End Fundraising Infographic by MobileCause contains some important facts as well as some great tips to consider when making your end-of-the-year ask.

3. "My Top Five Tips for a Profitable Year-End Campaign" by Gail Perry  
Gail Perry outlines some very practical steps to keep in mind when working on a year-end fundraising campaign.

4. "Comprehensive Guide to Year-End Giving" by Causevox  
This in-depth guide covers every aspect the campaign from figuring out your actual need, to planning, to marketing, and more. It offers a wealth of information that is well worth the read.

5. "10 Year-End Giving Statistics Every Fundraiser Should Know" by Andrew Dain
This post is not so much instructive as it is informative. It provides some interesting facts about how donors behave with regard to year-end appeals, as well as how your fellow nonprofit marketers approach the ask. 

6. "8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Year-End Fundraising Campaign" by Caryn Stein This post offers some great tips about the placement of Donate buttons and simple changes you can make to ensure the Donation process is simple and accessible to donors. 

Have you found other resources you've found helpful on this topic? Let us know in the comments below.

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Four Things You're Not Doing That Are Hurting Your Online Presence

Have you ever thought about whether or not your nonprofit has a quality online presence? Here are four things you may not be in the habit of doing right now, which could be hurting your online presence in the long run. 
 
1. Not regularly adding fresh content
When was the last time you added new content to your site? If it's been over a month, your content may be getting stale. Potential donors are far more likely to make a donation if they can see tangible results of the work you're doing to benefit your cause. Encourage your donors to give by showing them just how far their money is going. Not only is it important to keep your constituents well-informed of the happenings within your organization, but it's also important to add fresh content to improve your SEO. By regularly adding new updates to your site, you're telling the search engines that you're still relevant.  
 
2. Not keeping your CMS up to date
Keeping your CMS up-to-date is an important security measure for any website. If you're not keeping your CMS current, you could be opening yourself up to security vulnerabilities. You can learn more about the benefits of updating your content management system here.
 
3. Not taking the time to regularly review the online giving experience
Whether you've been accepting online donations for years or just a few short months, it's important to regularly reevaluate the process to ensure a smooth experience for all donors. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you walk through the process on your site:
  • Is it obvious where how to donate from any page of our website?
  • Is the giving form straight forward? Is all of the information we're collecting necessary to request of all donors? Or am I taking unnecessary information that could be cumbersome for the donor?
  • Is the giving process fast? Does the form load quickly? Do subsequent pages (receipt or thank you pages) load quickly?
  • Does it work just as easily from a mobile device? This question is critical. We need to begin anticipating that a good portion of donors will be visiting from a smart phone.  
4. Not publishing the results/impact of fundraising efforts
Have you ever been guilty of requesting funds for a specific event or goal, without letting your donors know whether you reached the goal or how you used the funds? When donors give toward a goal, it brings a sense of satisfaction to see that the goal was achieved. Furthermore, if donors contribute to a goal and they see that the fundraising is not reaching the target, they may be more likely to share it with others to help you reach your goal. Consider adding a funding thermometer for specific campaigns to ensure donors can see your progress and understand the impact of their contribution. 
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Is it Really Critical to Update my CMS?

After paying a sizable up-front cost to have your website built, you may be wondering if it's really necessary to install regular CMS updates as they become available. Many nonprofit professionals mistakenly assume that websites are a one-time expense, when in reality, they should become a line item in your organization's annual budget. So why is it so critical to update your CMS? Here are the top reasons to regularly update your content management system.

1. Security
The first and most important reason to keep your CMS up to date is to protect your site from security vulnerabilities. While you may think your site is too small to be a target for hackers, there is still reason for concern if your CMS is not current. According to opensourcecms.com, more than 4 million websites are currently powered by Wordpress, while more than 600,000 are powered by Joomla. Judging by these statistics, even though your website may not be the most popular one out there, the CMS running it could be well known by hackers. Furthermore, because Wordpress and Joomla are open source systems, the code that powers them can be viewed by anyone, allowing hackers to study the code and look for loopholes. If your website is running an outdated version of your CMS, hackers will be able to find your site and target its vulnerabilities. In order to find and remove these vulnerabilities, open source developers release security patches in new releases.

2. Bug Fixes
While open source content management systems are heavily tested before they're released to the public, there is always the possibility that bugs can be overlooked. If a bug is introduced in a given version of the CMS, subsequent releases will often include a fix.

3. Performance and Feature Enhancements
As CMS developers constantly seek ways to make their software faster and more efficient, subsequent releases of the software will often include performance enhancements. Likewise, CMS updates can also include features that were previously unavailable. Many times, upon completing an update, you'll notice subtle differences in the user interface that make the overall system more intuitive and easy to use.

While it is critical to keep your site up to date, it's also possible that updating the CMS can cause conflicts with outdated plugins and components. If you need assistance with a Wordpress or Joomla update, feel free to drop us a line on our contact form. Our team would be happy to help.

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What's in a Logo?

What's in a Logo?

Does your nonprofit organization have an established and easily recognizable logo? If not, it may be time to consider what type of logo would best represent your brand. In our last post, we addressed the topic of effective branding for nonprofits. While branding encompasses far more than your organization's logo, your logo should certainly be central to all branding efforts. So what's in a great logo? Here are a few key qualities of effective logo design:

1. Effective logos are simple.
When creating a graphic that will be used to identify your organization and in effect, your cause, it needs to be both simple and versatile. A simple design will be easily understood at first glance, and it will be quickly recognizable at any size. If your logo is cluttered with unnecessary elements and effects, it may be difficult to decipher when shrunk down to a smaller size. If you have a sketch or mockup in mind, consider what it would look like on a billboard as well as on a business card. Is it easily recognizable in both applications?

It's also important to test your logo out in black and white as well as the inverse, using a white version of your logo against a dark background. The inverse will allow you to see how your logo could look on a variety of applications where the background may not always be white, while a black and white version will help you determine if your logo will be just as effective on photocopies and flyers.

2. Effective logos are timeless.
If your logo is going to withstand the test of time, you'll need to steer clear of trendy design fads that come and go. While your design needs to be relevant to today's audience, you should also think about how well it will be received 10, 20 or even 30 years from now. With no way of knowing exactly which design trends will be popular down the road, it's a good idea to stick with a classic typeface instead of using a decorative font.

3. Effective logos use appropriate fonts and colors.
When it comes to fonts and color, you'll want to consider the implications of each. Typefaces can be strong and firm or dainty and whimsical, and colors can communicate a variety of moods and ideas. For example, if you look around, you'll notice that blue is often used to depict corporate logos, while green is often used by environmentally friendly companies or organizations. The color red often communicates power and energy, while yellow suggests optimism. If you look at typefaces, you'll notice they can evoke emotion too. For example, serif fonts are often used in the names of law offices, communicating seriousness, longevity and sophistication, while script fonts represent elegance, and are often seen on invitations to weddings or other formal events.

4. Effective logos are well researched.
In order to come up with the best logo possible for your organization, it's important to do your homework. You'll want to start out by learning everything there is to know about your cause as well as the ideals of your organization. Think about your brand and how you could best represent it from a graphical perspective. By looking around at photos and logos of other similar organizations and causes, you can learn more about the work that's being done with respect to your cause, and you can gather some inspiration regarding your design.

5. Effective logos are unique.
Once you've looked around at similar organizations and causes, and you have a firm grasp of your own organization's vision and goals, you're ready to start designing. While it's a good idea to look around for inspiration, your logo needs to be just as unique as your organization. So be sure to let your creativity flow, and design something that is uniquely yours. 

How about your organization? Do you have a strong logo and branding strategy? Have you recently come up with something new? Let us know in the comments below.

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