Common Software Tools for Nonprofits

Yesterday I presented, "How to Improve your Nonprofit Operations in Under Two Months" at the Craigslist Foundation's Nonprofit Bootcamp.  It was a great event and in future blog posts I will share what I learned in the sessions that I attended.

I received a lot of questions during my session that I wasn't able to answer because I was pressed for time. One question that came up over and over again was, What are common software tools that nonprofits should be using for operations?

This is a tough question for me to answer because I don't want to offend any nonprofit software vendor for not using their tools. There are so many great tools out there! Also, because every nonprofit is different I think that every nonprofit needs to find the best software tools that work for them and go through a software selection process. I look at a variety of sources when choosing software like Idealware which provides nonprofit software reviews.

Also, I want to add that Aspiration-my organization has developed Social Source Commons  (SSC) "a platform which will support mapping and documenting the landscape of software tools available for NPO/NGO use."

SSC is in the Beta version right now, so not all the tools are listed, however soon nonprofits will be able to search for tools by type--like common database tools, and I will be posting my list of common nonprofit operations tools on the site. 

I tend to use a lot of free software, sometimes it isn't the easiest to use but I like free! If I do need to purchase it, I get it for practically free through Tech Soup, and the Tech Foundation's discount program through CDW where I can purchase hardware too.

With that said, here are the software tools that I use for nonprofit operations in my organization. 

1. Finance/Accounting: There is other financial management software out there, however I prefer Quickbooks.

2. (Online) Database: I track my constituents and donors, send out mass e-mails to them, do event registration through Democracy in Action. 

3. E-mail: I use the free verson of Eudora, and it seems to have less spam and viruses that some of the other e-mail programs I have used.

4. Calendar/Project Management: I track my funding deadlines and other nonprofit operations to do items and milestones through Basecamp.

5.  Documents: I use both Microsoft Office and Open Office. Open Office is free and has the ability to convert documents into PDFs.

6. Browser: I can have multiple browser windows open at the same time through Mozilla Firefox's tab method.

7. Anti-Spy ware: I use Spybot Search and Destroy, and Adaware all free.

8. I Talk for free through my computer using Skype.

9. Anti-virus: I use Symantec.

Disclaimer: I am not getting paid to recommend this software, I am simply stating what I use. Also, I always welcome comments about my posts.