heather
Aug 20, 2006

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 took at a variety of sources when choosing software like Idealware which provides nonprofit software reviews.

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.

Gunner and the Aspiration team have been an incredible inspiration and resource for us at OpenNews. Their guidance and feedback have shaped everything from how support relationship building amongst cohorts to planning goal-oriented meetings where participants leave with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of purpose.

Erika Owens, OpenNews
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