Online Tools That Will Make Your Nonprofit Comms Job So Much Easier

Overwhelmed nonprofit communicators: does it feel like you are the cook, waiter, and dishwasher all at the same time? Managing communications requires skills in so many areas of expertise. You need to be strategic and creative, but also understand and keep up with important metrics (i.e., math). I’ll go into the nuances of this in another post, but today I’m going to share a few online tools that were my saving grace as a nonprofit communications manager.

I’ll let you know which of these I have used, and others I have heard good things about. It’s always good to know you have options. And while I wish this was a sponsored post, I am not getting paid to share these resources :). These are just tools that really do work for me.

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Design

You likely have to produce all kinds of designed materials, from social media posts to email and blog banners to outreach flyers. Put away publisher and clipart, immediately. If you don’t have a graphics designer on staff, check out these online “drag and drop” design tools. You’ll have access to templates, graphics, images, and more.  

Canva is my go-to design site. They are incredibly easy to use and have enabled me to majorly up my design game. Also, they offer their premium version for free for nonprofits.

Easil is an alternative to Canva. I’ve read that it has a few more functions than Canva, including making GIFs. They also have designers on call for support.

Social Media Management

I highly recommend setting some time aside to schedule social media content in advance. If you are already doing this for more than one platform, consider using social media managers. There are some really advanced versions like Sprout Social that start at $99/month. If your budget is limited, start with Hootsuit or Buffer. Both offer a limited free version, and generous nonprofit discounts.

Hootsuit is the social management site I am most familiar with. In addition to scheduling, they provide basic analytics and reports (this made my job a lot easier), social listening (tracking hashtags, handles, and keywords), and can be managed by a team.

Buffer seems to have less function, but is more intuitive.

TweetDeck is owned by Twitter and is the best way to optimize your time on this platform. I use TweetDeck to monitor lists, hashtags, and mentions. Since I am most active on Twitter, as are many of the organizations I support, I’ve skipped the multi-platform management sites and focus on TweetDeck.

Trend & Convo Tracking

If you want to get the most out of your social media, you will have to stay on top of the trends and conversations in your field. These applications let you zone in on keywords and hashtags that pertain to your nonprofit’s focus area. Both of these sites have free basic versions.

Feedly is best described as a topic aggregator. Your dashboard consists of your personalized topics and publications. Jump into specific feeds to see what conversations are happening. The site tracks various content formats, including Twitter, YouTube, and news sites.

Tagboard is more keyword and hashtag oriented than Feedly. In other words, it gets more specific in its tracking, as well offering many other tools like automated replies and other moderation tools.

Web & SEO

Google has quite a few tools that take the guesswork out of how well your website is doing and search engine optimization.

Google Analytics doesn’t start tracking your site’s metrics until you set it up, so do so as soon as possible. Hopefully you are tracking stronger KPI’s than number of social media followers. If you want to know and understand your website’s users, traffic, and popular content, get used to using Google Analytics. I have found that setting up a few dashboards makes using this site much easier. You can do a quick search of dashboard freebies, but try some of these as a start.

Google Keyword planner is a free Google Ads tool that allows you to search for keywords and see how a list of keywords might perform. The purpose of this tool is to help optimize Google ads. Of course, this tool is valuable for just about any SEO best practice.

Google Ad Words Grant gives $10,000/month of Google ad services for qualified nonprofits. These grants have had an incredible impact on increasing website traffic for some of the nonprofits I work with. Take advantage of this opportunity!

Yoast plug-in is a plugin built for WordPress. The free version boasts keyword optimization tools and basic proofreading utilities (such as duplicate search and readability). I love this plug-in, and take advantage of its SEO guidance for every page and post. If anything, it has helped me set good SEO habits as a writer.

My hope for you is that your team grows and grows, and you will be able to stick to what you do best as a nonprofit storyteller. Until then, I hope these tools help make your job easier. If you have a good nonprofit communications hack, let us know in the comments.