Fundraising in the digital age gives us unprecedented access to donors. This is an exciting opportunity to reach new audiences, across a variety of platforms and media, but also means that more planning and content are required to draw people into your campaigns and make them feel included every step of the way—talked to instead of talked at.
In order to keep you organized and help you create consistently compelling, regularly updated communications, we’ve rounded up seven digital tools and apps for nonprofit fundraising campaigns. Here’s what you need:
Scheduling and workflow tool. These apps and programs combine robust calendars with task lists and workspaces, to allow an entire team of people to stay on the same page of campaign planning and execution.
BoardDirector, while not free, was specifically developed for boards of directors, and includes tools for scheduling meetings, sharing documents, sharing news and announcements, a contact info database, and small-group workspaces for committees. It’s a terrific tool if you have a little more leeway in your budget.
If your board is smaller or doesn’t need quite so many bells and whistles, Trello is a great option. The free version of this app allows you to create at-a-glance boards for different projects and individual tasks within them, as well as store and share up to 10GB of documents or other content per board, and add multiple team members to each. The paid version of Trello offers even more organizational utilities, plus the ability to integrate with other digital tools you may already be using, like Google Drive or Dropbox.
Photo and video editing app. Professional, non-user-friendly, and high-priced software like Adobe Photoshop used to be the only game in town for image editing, and if you didn’t have the expertise—or a full-time graphic designer—you were out of luck. The good news is that these days, there are lots of options on the market for photo and video editing.
If you’re not crazy about working with images directly on your smartphone, the free version of Picmonkey for desktop gives you the ability to to perform basic photo-editing functions like adjusting contrast and saturation, brightening shadows, cropping, erasing, adding simple text overlays, and applying filters. For video editing, we like iMovie for iPhone and PowerDirector for Android, which are low-cost and free, respectively. Both allow you to arrange and trim your videos, add title cards, and insert transitions between clips.
Graphic design app. Great-looking, easy-to-share branded images are the key to success on websites and social media, where visual content far outperforms text-only content. Canva is our top pick here. Its incredibly simple, drag-and-drop interface makes it easy for anyone to create pre-sized social media and e-mail campaign images, plus downloadable JPEGs, PNGs, and PDFs for printing invitations, flyers, posters, and more.
Social media scheduling tool. Donors love to stay updated on their favorite campaigns, but how can you effectively manage weekly or even daily updates if you don’t have a staff member who can dedicate a significant portion of his or her time to this task? Take the headache out of posting with a scheduling tool like Buffer, where you can schedule a full month’s worth of content in just a couple of hours. Want to change the date on a post, or repost the same content a few weeks later? No problem; just drag and drop on the calendar, or hit the re-Buffer button. The free version of Buffer also provides basic analytics, so you can see which types of content are performing best and which need a little boost (or a makeover).
Online fundraising platform. Give donors around the country access to your fundraising projects by listing them online. pungl presents an exciting new take on online fundraising by allowing you to showcase named giving opportunities, or spotlight projects that can be named in honor of a donor or a donor’s loved one. Get creative, post your project, and then let donors from across the country contribute to causes that are significant to them—and that help you fund your nonprofit operations or programming.
E-mail marketing tool. Many studies have shown that e-mail marketing has the highest return on investment of any type of digital marketing—this includes social media and Google AdWords! You no doubt already have an e-mail list, so make the most of your communications with beautifully designed messages you can program in advance.
Mailchimp is our favorite e-mail marketing platform, and a top pick for our list of tools and apps for nonprofit fundraising. As long as your mailing list is under 2,000 addresses and you plan to send fewer than 12,000 e-mails per month, it’s free to use. It has dozens of drag-and-drop templates to choose from to create great-looking, functional e-mails, plus basic campaign analytics for reviewing overall campaign performance, open rates, and click-through rates.
Time-tracking app. This isn’t so much for tracking an individual employee’s hours as for helping you to get a realistic sense of how much time certain campaign-related tasks take to complete—which will give you a heads-up when you need to call in additional resources, and help you schedule more efficiently in the future. We like Toggl, which is free and simple to use, and syncs between desktop and smartphone.
Got a favorite digital productivity tool or app for nonprofit fundraising? Tell us about it on Facebook.