NON-PROFIT TECH RESOURCES & SUPPORT
We want to share a great list of tools and tips for any non-profit that is trying to get things started. We are gearing this guide towards animal non-profits such as farm sanctuaries and vegan organizations but this can apply to nearly any 501c3 that is working towards building a better world.
Email Providers & more
Google for Non-Profits: Google has one of the greatest tools for non-profits which gives a variety of tools for free. Sign up here first.
- Google Apps/G-Suite: This is a corporate email solution which gives lifetime free gmail email (30GB storage/user) for your entire non-profit. That means unlimited email accounts and aliases plus all of the other great Google email tools. For-Profit companies have to pay $6/user/month, so this is really amazing
Microsoft non-Profit Office 365 – Includes online versions of office, email(Microsoft Entourage Server) plus 1TB of online cloud backup for you and 299 of your other employees! 2022 Update: Sadly Microsoft has seriously cut their non-profit program. You can still get a few free accounts, but it is limited to 10. After that they have discounted options for the rest of your staff. Visit Techsoup for current program details. Grandfathered accounts seem to still have the 299 limit for free emails and cloud drive.
SMALL NON-PROFITS SHOULD NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR
HOSTING | EMAIL | SSL CERTIFICATES
Dreamhost: EASY, single domain/website. Dreamhost offers completely free web hosting for a single domain. You can learn more about their program here and create an account here. Their support is great and quick.
Windows Azure: ADVANCED SETUP, multiples domains for single non-profit. Up to $5000 $3500(MS Reduced the grant by $1500 in 2019) of retail costs in online servers. This is by far the coolest program I have found to date, other then Google Grants which gives up to $60k/year in adwords advertising.. This is a very advanced setup so I would not recommend this for most non-profits unless they have a very tech savvy support.
AZURE UPDATE: AZURE has recently added Plesk ($15/month out of pocket cost, not included in the grant) installations into their library of linux and windows server images. Plesk is a powerful website install and management system which spins up wordpress sites in a flash. This allows organizations to build a linux server without nearly as much knowledge as before. Instead of taking many hours to build and setup a windows server ( no it should not take this much time but I often find that it takes that much time to get everything situated properly) Plesk linux servers take 1-2 hours or less to get a site online. The Azure $3500 annual sponsorship completely covers both the server rental and plesk licensing.
Say No To Wix: We do not recommend wix but they do offer a free with advertising option to non-profits. Please use wordpress with Dreamhost or Windows Azure instead. Wix is very limited and there are not great options to migrate. I have helped dozens of organizations move from these limited frameworks to wordpress when they could no longer grow.
Webhosting Note: Because both Dreamhost and Windows Azure offer free hosting, most non-profits should not be paying a penny for web hosting, if you are, please write us so we can assist with a migration.
Paid Hosting Options: If Azure is too difficult to setup, than there are some lower cost hosting options. We provide web hosting and discount it for small non-profits. See our hosting page for details. We also recommend A2 hosting. A2 includes free Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates and are built on SSD hard drive servers. We recommend their Turbo shared server plan which provides enough power for most small organizations and they have an option to upgrade to 3GB of ram and double the CPU cores for a reasonable cost. Message us if you have any questions, we love helping with this stuff 🙂 For first time clients they offer really great promotions. 3 years of hosting on a very fast server for about $400.
Budget WordPress Themes/Editor
We use DIVI or Extra by Elegant Themes on all of our wordpress builds. We chose this framework because it has some of the best support we have found. The company releases updates and upgrades almost daily and this has been the regular way they do business since we started using them in 2015.
Software (Free & Discounted)
Tech Soup: Tech soup is a wonderful online resource with severely discounted tech software. Tech soup’s pricing has changed and so the figures we have here may not be updated. They were written in 2019.
- Free Office 365 – Includes online versions of office plus 1TB of online cloud backup!!!
- Windows Azure – Up to $3500 towards Azure server costs per year. This budget allows a 2 or 4 core system with 4 or 8 gb of ram on ssd hard drives with 120gb of storage.
- Quickbooks – $50 for a single license or $125/3 licenses of Quickbooks for non-profits. They also have Quickbooks online for $50/5 users/year.
- Adobe Creative Cloud – $30/month/2 computers for all of Adobe’s software: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Acrobat, Premiere Pro plus many more. Instead of the normal rate of $50/month you can get creative cloud for only $20/month.
- Adobe Acrobat – Are you needing acrobat to edit acrobat files? Adobe offers it for $55 instead of hundreds through Tech Soup.
- Windows for Pirated/Illegal Installations – Microsoft wants to help non-profits who may have had someone “install” a copy of windows but now they are saying they do not have a legal copy installed. For only $17/computer you can upgrade to a legal copy.
- Microsoft Office – April 2022 update: Their program has gone to office 365 installs only. The previous program was Office Standard for $29 and professional plus is only $40. One other thing they do not mention is that you get 50 seats/installs.
- Microsoft’s other software. – You can browse their large catalog of free and donated software.
- Netsuite – If you are looking for an ERP for a larger non-profit organization, Netsuite is one of the best options. This software normally costs $12k/year plus $99/user but through Tech Soup it only costs $300/year for 5 users. This should really help build and keep your non-profit organized.
- Comodo SSL certificate – You can purchase SSL certificates with your Azure funds but if you want to instead just buy one outside or you host elsewhere, you may purchase severely discounted SSL certs here. An SSL cert will both keep your site safe and also increase your rankings on google.
They usually cost $50-100/year. So $25 for 3 years is insanely cheap!I have found a better SSL Certificate option which is listed below.
We get questions about SSL Certificates a lot and we recommend Let’s Encrypt. We use it for all of our sites without any issues.
Free SSL Certificates: Let’s Encrypt is a non-profit arm of the Linux Foundation. They are a Certificate Authority which provides free encryption certficates for websites to help keep our world wide web safe. Dreamhost has Let’s Encrypt included. They have a premium SSL certificate you can purchase, but we do not feel it is necessary for most customers. I recommend Really Simple SSL, a wordpress plugin if you are using wordpress for your site. If you are on a windows server you may use this new tool Cerify, which we have used since 2016.
Although domain registers are not free, it is an important topic to cover. I have found many vegan and animal organizations registered with Godaddy. Godaddy’s founder was a fan of killing exotic animals and their adverising practices have been sexist since their inception. We have also had clients who have had exorbinant charges when there was an error on their account. This is why we do not recommend them. I have helped dozens of organizations transfer out of Godaddy over the years. I would say any register is probably better than Godaddy. At one point I had 30 domains registered at Godaddy. Never again!
Namecheap is my favorite domain register. Namecheap provides great support when you need it and their rates are about 10-30% lower than Godaddy. For one of my clients, they were charged $40/annually for a .dog domain and with Namecheap it was only $28. .org registration is $2/year less at Namecheap.
Google Domains is an another registrar option. They are very competitive with Namecheap’s rates and have a very powerful dashboard.
Google Ad Grants: Google gives away up to $10,000 in ad spend monthly to any 501c3 non-profit. It is very challenging to spend the entire amount so I recommend not making that your goal, instead just focus on creating a clean and meaningful campaign. This really helps small non-profits grow. They do have some limitations on how you can spend the $10,000, but it is a great service. That should help the organization stay competitive with other for profit organizations.
Free Funding/Donations Tools
Amazon Smile Program: This program can provide a small, often very small stream of income for your organization. How it works is that your friends, family and fans can sign your non-profit as their smile organization and then when they shop on Amazon, Amazon will be giving .5% of their cart total for most of their items to you. It is pretty sweet 🙂 Sign Up here. Amazon decided to cancel the Amaon Smile Program in 2022.
Amazon Affiliate/Associates Program: This is actually a for-profit and non-profit tool . If you happen to have a blog or a place where you make recommendations for items of Amazon items then you can make pretty good money for those recommendations! Amazon affiliate pays between 4-12% of the cart total of items when people use your special affiliate links. Sign Up Here. I have to thank Rich Roll for this tip! If you are wanting a life changing podcast, check Rich’s out!
Donation Payment Tools
So What options are there for non-profits when it comes to donations? Sadly there are almost none that do not take a significant percentage from the profits. I have thought about building a company for years to provide this service with little or no service fees. Transaction fees are required no matter what because credit card companies charge them. Currently there is only one real winner that offers both simple setup and low fees, that is Paypal. I know that the word paypal may conjure up many different emotions from people but this is our greatest tool currently for non-profits. They offer the very lowest rates and easy tools to get started. I do hope that someday there is an alternative so people have a choice.
Paypal– Easiest: Paypal offers simple tools and charges a base of 2.2% for non-profits to take donations. This is probably the best deal online for processing. You do have to confirm your non-profit status to get this rate.
Facebook Fundraising (Zero Fees): Facebook has built in a great toolset for non-profits to build fundraising campaigns directly inside of facebook. Each organization has to pass a set of criteria but once that is done you can create go fund me like campaigns directly on facebook. Facebook charges only 2.2% + $.30 per transaction which beats everyone else in the list. Facebook has changed this program to be completely free through a partnership with Network for Good. 100% of proceeds go to the non-profit, it takes about 45 days to receive funds.
Google Wallet: If you are looking for a semi easy solution to receive payments to your non-profit you can use Google Wallet. It requires using a bank account or Debit card and then you can send and receive funds without any costs. The catch is that it does require the other party to setup Google Wallet on their device. I like the layout and it works great!
Facebook Payments: Another easy and free option is sending and receiving payments on Facebook. This is not allowed for pages so you will have to use your personal account to do this. This is not the most professional option in the list but it does work very well. If you are receiving money you may add your company debit card to your personal page so the money will be deposited directly into your non-profits bank account. Just remember not to forget which card is connected in case you want to send/receive personal money from a friend or family. That is the original design for this system.
Mighty Cause: A company called Razoo has become Mighty Cause. They advertise only charging 2.2% per transaction and 29 cents per donation. This is lower than paypal and so it is worth checking out. They charge $99 for their whole monthly package but do offer a free service which includes unlimited campaigns.
Here are a couple of services with look interesting but i have not had time to fully study.
Free Fund-Raising Platform
Generosity: Indiegogo has launched a new platform just like Indiegogo but it is designed for good causes instead of self interest and for profit projects. They still do charge the 3% transaction fee but there are no program fees! YES!!!
Give Lively: Give Lively provides free unlimited fundraising pages, embeddable widgets, event ticketing and registration, peer-to-peer fundraising, text-to-donate with live display, video storytelling and more. Their founders cover the cost of running the business, so they charge nonprofits for use of their services.
Events & Tickets
The most economical system I have found so far is called Brown Paper Tickets. This company has removed the organization fees and solely charges the credit card processing fees instead. They obviously are making some money off of the credit card processing but this is definitely much cooler than the countless companies who charge 2.5% or more on top of credit card fees. You can see their fee structure here: Brown Paper Ticket Fee Structure. They also even offer free shipping of paper tickets if you want them for your event.
Give Lively: Give Lively provides free event ticketing options.
Facebook/Eventbrite: If you have a free event which requires tickets, you can use facebook combined with Eventbrite. Eventbrite is one of the more expensive platforms for paid tickets but they are pretty handy for free events. Their system fully integrates into facebook events and also there is a donation option during checkout so you could receive a few donations. They take a hefty chunk out of the donations though.