Free resources for charities
It now seems clear the voluntary sector is entering a new age of austerity. The OCS recent announcement that only 15 of 42 current strategic partners will receive funding next year this is a clear early indication of cuts to come.
Funders more so than ever will be searching for the investments which will yield the greatest ROI.Therefore Charities need to ensure they are effectively demonstrating the impact their work is having on the communities.
This post compiles a couple of useful resources which are free for non-profit organisations. They are a mix of free resources and social media tools all great for shouting about the work your organisation undertakes and communicating with beneficiaries.
The Charities Technology Trust in association with US non profit technology providers Techsoup have teamed up to provide members of the CTX Exchange programme between 2 and 5 free Flickr pro accounts. Flickr is a web site for photo storage which allows you to chronologically tell the story of your organisation through the means of photography. Communication tools let users get comments, notes, and tags on their photos, post them to any blog.
This product is a great way to visually demonstrate the projects your charity is working and the positive impact from the frontline on the lives of beneficiaries.
If you are a registered charity you stand a great chance of being entitled to a Google grant which is a In-Kind advertising programme. Initially you can receive $10000 worth of free Google adwords advertising commonly known as per per click (PPC). This will allow your organisation to be found easier on the web through search engine searches. Planning adword campaigns is relatively simple it works on the premise of bidding for search terms for example children services, depending on how much you bid will dictate whereabouts you appear on the right hand side.
A website is often the first contact that a future funder will have with your charity, ensuring that this is a positive experience could mean a big difference for your charity. The Charity Technology Trust provide excellent free website with a fully functioning content management system. Setting up a website is easy and you can be on your way to having a great new website in under 10 minutes. There are a wide range of templates to choose from and editing your new website is simple using an editor similar to Word and PowerPoint.
2009 was branded the year of Twitter by the media and the “revolution” didn’t go unnoticed by Civil Society. Twitter has developed into a great way to communicate with other charities, potential funders and service beneficiaries. Twitter allows you to expand your network of like minded individuals it is a great way to discover new things happening in your community.
For those who haven’t explored the world of Twitter before here is a short summary about Twitter
Twitter is a micro-blogging tool with a social focus. You can post 140 character messages to people who are interested in you or your organisation – these are your ‘followers’ – and you can also ‘follow’ others whose updates you wish to read.
To get you started try following these organisations:
WordPress is an easy to use blog/website creation tool, it is simple to use but also has the functionality to be quite sophisticated dependent on the user skill level. Blogging is a great way to get your articles picked up by search engines and reach new audiences.
Foursquare is a mobile geo location application which allows you to check in to different areas of your city. This could be a train station, your charity or your favourite café. When you check in you get rewarded with points and badges, you can also see where you’re friends who use foursquare in last checked in. Organisations are already using this application to offer incentives to users. For example I was recently in a large shopping centre and a retailer was offering entry into a prize draw if checked in to their shop. I believe the potential for engagement with beneficiaries could be huge in the future, the buzz around it feels like Twitter did in 2008 before it really took off.
Online communities in the non-profit sector have cropped up in recent times, these are created to allow you as individuals to share ideas and best practice. A couple well worth checking out are www.knowhownonprofit.org which is a free online information resource and e-learning project. Another great network is www.navcaboodle.org.uk where infrastructure workers discuss issues affecting the voluntary sector. If you work in marketing and communications The Third Sector PR and Communications network is very popular and a great place to share cutting edge marketing ideas.
This is by no means a definitive guide to what is out there but hopefully it will be a useful starting point for someone. Follow me on http://twitter.com/damienclarkson