top nonprofit communication tools

Top 10 Outreach Tools for Nonprofits

There’s a mind-boggling amount of pretty ingenious online apps and resources out there that will aid a nonprofit’s outreach and fundraising effort. Some may be of real value to the nonprofit’s brand, many of which are free, and some may serve simply to distract from the program’s core message. It can be a chore simply to consider what to try.

Over the years, we’ve employed the use of several of these apps and services within our clients’ websites. Below is our short list of what we think are the better options these days.

  • Social Network Tabs. This is one of our favorites. SNT will stream into your website live feeds from most major social network providers: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. The content can be displayed openly or via discrete tabs (which displays the live activity once the preferred service tab is selected). A regular license (via CodeCanyon.com) is only $14 and can be installed into your WordPress site by your webmaster.
  • Meetup.com. This global online community is exceptional for organizing regional events, gatherings, chapters and activist activities. It’s easy to organize supporters online, then connect with them again face-to-face. This is a free service for members, and setting up your own Meetup event is quite affordable.
  • All-in-One Event Calendar by Timely. This is a plugin one has to believe was specially developed with event-heavy nonprofits in mind. It easily, and beautifully, allows one to find and share events. Not just fundraisers, but meetings and other important gatherings. Already installed and running on more than 70,000 websites, and translated into a dozen languages, the All-in-One Calendar is one of the most feature-rich calendar systems in the world. We’ve tried it on a couple of our client webs, and we think it’s pretty cool. The basic version is free. This WordPress plugin can be easily installed by your webmaster.
  • ClickDesk. Just like we as consumers appreciate having a live chat operator assist us with technical issues or product purchases at commercial venues, the same client service is available to those of us who are tasked with donor relations, client relations, or simply fielding questions to the right person within the organization. Best of all, when one is visiting your site, and/or on a specific web page, the operator actually sees the activity in real-time. A live chat app, such as ClickDesk, may just be the online outreach tool you’ve been hoping for. ClickDesk has a free version that works rather well.
  • Supporter Wall. Do you remember the old fundraising thermometer props? Well, that idea has matured visually with Supporter Wall. Instead of simply raising the bar on a cardboard prop as contributions come in, squares of your funding wall are populated by images purchased by donors. This visually attractive mode of crowdfunding configures easily to your website with a simple line of HTML code. Although not free, the service is moderately priced.
  • AnyMeeting.com. Webinars are an affordable way to outreach to new potential supporters while providing essential information and education opportunities. Inviting supporters and potential donors to join in a live discussion, where staff is introduced and programs expanded upon, is certainly the modern conference room or even living-room social equivalent. And with webinar software offering audio, video and whiteboard options to the type-chat function, this really is the closest thing to being in a face-to-face gathering. Attendees can choose to participate in the discussion, or simply listen in. At the end of the webinar, a transcript is usually available so even note-taking is no longer required. AnyMeeting offers its services for free (up to 200 attendees).
  • WP Symposium.  Create your own social network for your WordPress-based website, such as a forum, member directory, profile pages, private mail, events and more. WPS is considered a lean alternative to the BuddyPress plugin. The basic services are free. However, because of the robustness of this WordPress plugin, it can be a bit time consuming to integrate and maintain.
  • We the People. One of the main goals of outreach is to bring people together to affect change that matters to them. One of the tried-and-true tools has been the signature petition–usually targeting local politicians and the President. The White House has their own petition gathering assistance portal for virtually anyone to participate in. Just pick your issue, register, and begin gathering signatures via your social network. No charge.
  • Viewbix. If your organization is creating online videos (generally uploaded to YouTube), you can add clicking opportunities along with specialty apps to your online videos–such as an “add to email list” option, “donate now” button, a “visit our website” link, etc. Viewbix can be a little pricy at $19/month minimum, but if your organization is doing a lot of video work, this can be a super outreach tool for generating new support and income.
  • Affinipay. Although not an outreach tool per se, one does need to provide a way for people to support the organization monetarily during an outreach effort. Affinipay works primarily with associations and nonprofits, while providing basic online giving services at what might be the lowest cost in the industry.