As a nonprofit ourselves, we at TechSoup know what it feels like when your organization starts to grow. On one hand, you’re able to help more people and expand the reach of your mission. On the other hand, you suddenly have several next steps to take, all at the same time, to make sure your growth is sustainable.

Do you need software to manage volunteers and human resources? Does your organization have a website? How can you grow and track your fundraising efforts? Making wise and affordable technology investments can help in all of this.

Following on the heels of our Software to Build and Grow Your Nonprofit blog, we’ve put together this second toolkit based on what fellow nonprofits told us their biggest concerns were.

Coordinate Your Staff and Office

 Human resources software can save you time, reduce paperwork, and help you get rid of paper HR files once and for all. Storing and retrieving your HR information is made simple with Staff Manager (admin fee: $30) from Atlas Business Solutions. Customizable tabbed pages show general employee information, emergency contacts, wages, performance evaluations, notes, and associated documents — all of which can be customized by administrators.

 While some organizations may be at the point of hiring, others are managing their growth through the smart use of volunteers. ScheduleAnywhere’s cloud-based time-tracking program (admin fees: $35 – $55) allows an unlimited number of custom volunteer schedules, based on locations, positions, shifts, or special events. Schedules can include specific staffing requirements and built-in notifications that too few or too many volunteers are scheduled at those times. 

Build Your Website

George Weiner of DoSomething.org encourages nonprofits to think of their websites as relationship-building vehicles, not fundraising ones: "Most non-Vegas marriages don’t happen on the first date, it starts with a reasonable ask and comes after a relationship has been developed. Having a donate button is fine, but donating as your primary or only call-to-action is not a reasonable ask to the vast majority of your traffic."

Your nonprofit’s website is the first interaction that many people in the community, including constituents, donors, and grant makers, have with your organization. You can build a professional website for your nonprofit without breaking the bank, but only if you take the time to consider a few key questions. We have a good collection of articles at TechSoup to help you navigate these waters.

One thing we hear again and again is how organizations pay someone to design and develop a website for them, and once that site is handed over, the organization doesn’t have anyone on staff who knows how to use and update it. Don’t let this happen to you!

TechSoup’s Elliot Harmon has great articles on developing your first website and how websites work, full of tips, advice, and in-depth information to help you make the best choices.

 Once you’re educated yourself about what kind of website best fits your organization, you may or may not need some tools to make it happen. Content management programs like Windows SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites (admin fee: $708) are used for deploying and managing a public-facing website.

 You might also have a staff member or volunteer developing and updating your website for you. In that case, be sure to ask for examples of work they’ve done in the past. If their references check, your organization may have need of software such as Dreamweaver CS5.5 ESD (admin fee: $35), a handy HTML editor for design and publication of your website.

Start Fundraising

Donor management software can help you keep your fundraising efforts in line, ensuring that each of your constituents gets your message in a way encourages their support without unintentionally spamming them.

Our community forums are a great resource for discussions and recommendations for fundraising tools, and TechSoup has a number of fundraising solutions available for donation. Check out our breakdown of donor management tools to help make a more informed choice.

 Designed with the needs of smaller organizations in mind, Sage ACT! Pro 2012 (admin fee: $35) links donor databases and contact history to calendars, tasks, project summaries, and appointment schedules. ACT! offers built-in word processing, mail merge features, and safeguards to prevent duplicate records.

With your website developed and your organization growing, chances are you’re looking to start accepting online and in-person donations in the form of credit cards. The world of credit cards is complex, and there are a number of ways to accept them as payment — some of which require different types of hardware and software, and relationships with banks. In this article, we discuss what you need to know.

 Once you’ve decided on a strategy, your nonprofit can access discounted rates for processing credit and debit card payments and donations in-person or on your website through Dharma Merchant Services. This offering lets your nonprofit or library access discounted rates, payment terminals, check processing equipment, and card readers for mobile devices.

Plus: as a B-Corp, Dharma will return 10 percent of the gross annual processing profits from your merchant account in the form of an annual donation to you. Learn more.

Collaborate In and Out of the Office

Audio conferencing and online collaboration solutions are important for staff and volunteers spread across the state, country, and world. Here in TechSoup’s San Francisco office, we use audio conferencing every day to talk with people working remotely, in the Bay Area, plus staff based in New York or Seattle, and often London or Poland.

Check out TechSoup’s GreenTech for a great collection of articles, blog posts, and webinars on telecommuting, online collaboration, on conducting online trainings.

 Whether you’re meeting with board members, constituents, or members of other organizations, ReadyTalk's audio and web conferencing services help simplify collaboration. Beyond conference calls, nonprofits can use ReadyTalk (admin fee: $45) to record audio and video for tutorials and educational webinars hosting up to 25 free attendees at a time. For examples of training webinars held on ReadyTalk, check out the TechSoup Talks series.

 If your organization is looking to conduct conference calls, webinars, and training, check out Citrix Online’s remote web conferencing and training services. These programs make it easier to hold meetings or training sessions by allowing staff or constituents from around the world call in to your conferences and presentations.

 BetterWorld’s audio conferencing service offers basic audio conferencing services for an unlimited number of participants within the United States and Canada at a discounted rate of 2.75-cents per minute, per participant ($1.65 per person, per hour). Rates for international callers are based on each participant's location (see a list of international rates). For all calls, only your organization is charged.

A Path to Sustainable Growth

Don’t forget: log in and check your eligibility to see which of the donations below are available to your organization. All of these donated software tools can be requested at the same time. Keep in mind that every donation program at TechSoup has its own rules and restrictions. Some let you request only one donation, some, like Microsoft, let you request several.

Technology can help your organization manage its growth more sustainably, but only if you’re doing the legwork to make sure those technology decisions are smart and informed. There’s no one-size fits all technology solution for nonprofits and libraries, and it’s important to remember that.

One book you might find helpful is Nonprofit Management 101: a good beginner’s guide to every facet of running a new nonprofit. This book walks you through topics like fundraising, managing technology, marketing, finances, advocacy, and working with boards.

And remember that you’re part of a larger community: if you have questions, our community forums are a great place to ask them. And check out our Learning Center for nonprofit-specific articles, webinars and tool kits to help your technology planning needs. We know you’re working hard: TechSoup is here to help along the way. 

 


Patrick Duggan | TechSoup Digital Marketing Manager