3 Very Useful (and Very Affordable) Tools for Nonprofits

tools, apps, internet tools, web apps

Here are some awesome tools for nonprofits (or social enterprises OR for personal use) that I’ve found have significantly improved both my personal productivity and efficiency and that of the ImpactFlo team.

1. Save time on your social media using Buffer
Free for the basic account, $10/mo for the “Awesome Plan” [Buffer unlimited content, add team members and Buffer to up to 12 social media accounts]

Buffer is an amazing social media management tool that allows you to “load up” on things to share. You can add links to your Buffer dashboard as you come across them, rather than bookmark to share later (which you often forget to do anyway), and Buffer will post them at well-timed intervals for you. In a recently added feature to the pro account, you can even schedule the posts yourself. I’ve used it for ImpactFlo and for personal use and I really love how much time it has saved me for social media

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visual storytelling
Infographic: Why Visual Storytelling Rules (for Nonprofits)

Many organization’s aren’t taking full advantage of the tools available to improve their visual storytelling. Web applications like StorifyPiktochartAnimotoInstagramStrikingly, and Over App  make it easy to create stunning visuals, build stories, embed them to your site, and improve your design quality (and more) without needing an expensive web developer, artist or designer.

You just need to have a compelling message, a story to tell – which all nonprofits and causes do – and open-mindedness to use all the incredible tools at your fingertips.

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5 Lessons of the 2013 Millennial Impact Report for Nonprofits

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What is the Millennial Impact Report?

Last week, Achieve and The Case Foundation, along with their partners, released the Millennial Impact Reportan assessment of the social impact activity of people under 30, aka the Millennial generation.  The report includes data about Millennials’ propensity to donate, their expectations from nonprofit organizations’ websites, reporting, social impact and social media practices.

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Tracking Social Impact: Identify Concrete Quantifiers

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This is the third article in our series, The Step by Step Guide to Tracking Social Impact

As an organization, you know you must measure something to demonstrate success, but what? Should your metrics be dollars raised or houses built or bottles of water supplied? Tracking social impact isn’t a straight and narrow process, there are several branches to consider and this week we’ll explore a more concrete element: metrics.

Let’s take another look at your mission statement. Pick out the clauses that describe exactly what you wish to achieve as an organization. Now, concisely identify what it is you do – whether that’s build houses for disadvantaged families or provide a platform for microlending. 

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Nonprofit Transparency is Needed Now More Than Ever – CNN

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CNN partnered with the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting to disseminate the results of a yearlong investigation of American charities’ shortcomings as organizations. It is clear from the findings that nonprofit transparency is an urgent issue. [You can check out their list of 50 worst charities in America here.]

The article, published last week, has garnered significant media attention for the poor scores many organizations received. In one case, an organization spent less than 1% of their total revenue on their mission. Less than 1%! This number, of course, is shameful and disturbing, not only for the needy but also for the donors who had entrusted the organization to do good.

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Why Proving Social Impact is Never a Bad Thing

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This week, we take a break from our data story guide to probe a recent Forbes article, “Can Marketing Your Social Impact Harm Your Social Impact?” Proving social impact might need to be done with care, but it isn’t ever a bad thing.

While ImpactFlo is primarily focused on nonprofit organizations, we believe in the power of social enterprises, the positive impact they can engender and the importance of transparency in their activities.

The article, written by a social impact consultant based out of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford, gives a brief account of the tribulations faced by a socially conscious shop in Cambodia that employs women with a background of abuse or who are HIV positive.

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Tracking Social Impact: What are the Details?

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This is the second article in our series, The Step by Step Guide to Tracking Social Impact

Now that you have clarified what your work is, how it is completed and why it is important, it’s time to begin organizing your information by outlining the specifics of your work. Storytelling will be important to tracking social impact, because personal stories buttress abstract performance indicators.

Think of your mission statement as a theorem – a hypothesis of the change in the world that you believe you can achieve. Before proven, a theorem is just words; a theory made up of assumptions requiring validation. How do you prove a theorem? Start broad and become more specific with each step of analysis.

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Tracking Social Impact: Revisit Your Mission Statement
Passion
This is the first article in our series, The Step by Step Guide to Tracking Social Impact

Last week, I wrote about using data to tell your organization’s story. As a photographer and journalist, the importance of storytelling prevails in my thoughts. Although most organizations aren’t media focused, they have the best resource for curating a message: the people they help in their respective communities. I find that tracking social impact goes hand-in-hand with storytelling. Donors and volunteers are interested in understanding the tangible results of your work, while making personal connections with beneficiaries.

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Storytelling for Nonprofits: Data Writes a Story

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“Big data” is a trendy buzz word. Sure, the ability to process and handle absurdly large amounts of data has become greater and more accessible, but the fact of the matter is that if an organization is not sure how to begin measuring and organizing, buying into the “big data” movement is useless. Storytelling for nonprofits is not as difficult as one might think; organizations can utilize their data in a meaningful way to emotionally connect with the public.

Steve Bowland of Non Profit Quarterly wrote something that made a lot of sense to me in trying to simplify this seeming monolith of “BIG DATA.” He says, “One of the things Big Data can do is help tell the story of how you plan to make a difference in your community.” 

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Demonstrating Social Impact Outside of a Facebook Album

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NGOs and non-profit organizations face difficult issues in attempting to effectively communicate the work they perform – to both potential volunteers, and donors. In practice, relationships with wealthy donors may be more personal than a ‘donate now’ button. Demonstrating social impact through an interactive catalogue of ongoing and completed projects can serve to assist the organizations themselves, volunteers, and donors as well.

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