Managing a nonprofit often means operating on a shoestring. There’s not always the budget to streamline processes or outsource tasks to specialists. You have to make do with what you’ve got and be creative about finding solutions. That means everyone has to pitch in to get things done. Often it’s the small or seemingly insignificant tasks that end up taking the longest. You can spend hours every week updating social media or sending emails late at night to keep your team updated. With a few simple apps, you could potentially clear hours in your week to focus on the big picture strategy and really making a difference.
Managing social media can be a time sucker, but it’s absolutely essential for nonprofits to keep communication channels open. An active social media presence means you are continually building awareness and encouraging word of mouth promotion of your cause. And of course, social sharing is key to successful fundraising these days. There are numerous tools to help you manage all your social feeds, but one of the most highly featured and reputable is Hootsuite. Hootsuite has the advantage of mobile and tablet apps which mean you can manage your social media strategy wherever you are. With Hootsuite you can compose and schedule posts on 35 social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google and Instagram right from your phone. You can engage with direct messages and shares, track performance, and get performance reports, all under the free option. There are many other social media tools like Buffer which is great for scheduling and broadcasting messages across multiple platforms, and Sprout Social, which has an intuitive interface but no free option. This great analysis gives you a rundown of all the pros and cons of these and other social media management tools.
It can be tough for nonprofits to present a professional visual front without a big graphic design budget. These days if you don’t have in-house design skills, you can fill the gap very nicely with an app that does the job for you. Canva is one such app that lets you create gorgeous graphics and documents without any design experience. Available as an iPad app, you can use simple drag and drop features and standard layouts to whip up a presentation, invitation, poster or collage in minutes. With templates for Facebook, Instagram, Google and Twitter, it’s easy to make a big impact on social media. PicMonkey is another app that nonprofits can use to turn any photo into a beautiful shareable collage, quote or promotion for maximum impact. With PicMonkey on your phone you can snap an image, add filters and text, and update your social media feeds in moments.
With so much to do, it’s important for nonprofits to keep staff engaged and excited. A big part of this is to make sure team members feel like they’re part of a united community with a common, important goal. This is especially relevant if the team is distributed geographically rather than sitting together in the same office every day. Slack is a desktop, tablet and smartphone platform that can keep people connected and get the conversation flowing. It’s a messaging and communications app for teams with a free option that would work for most nonprofits, and only a few dollars a month for advanced features and unlimited storage. You can set up a channel for each team, project or office location and share documents and files that you want to discuss. One of the great things about Slack is that you can carry on conversations across multiple devices. You can share a file at home using your laptop and get feedback later when you’re out with your smartphone.
If you’re using Slack at your nonprofit to keep communication channels open, a great option is to add a productivity app like Kyber directly into Slack. Kyber lets you set up to-do lists, assign tasks, create appointments and manage projects right within Slack. If you have fairly simple workflows and tasks to manage, then this could be your free, one-stop productivity tool. Another good option is Trello which uses lists, cards and checklists to help you manage projects collaboratively. It’s accessible across all devices and lets your team collaborate effectively to deliver even the most complex projects. There’s a free option that may do everything you need or for $10 a month you get advanced features and deep integration with other tools like Mailchimp and Salesforce.
Even with all these great apps, every nonprofit has unique situations that they need to manage. Perhaps you oversee a team of volunteer drivers that pick up donations around town, or you need to schedule home visits and keep track of client health or support needs. Most of the time you’d be lucky to find an existing app to meet your specific needs and no doubt you’ve come up with paper systems or spreadsheets that do an OK job. Wouldn’t it be great if you could convert these systems to simple apps that streamline workflows and make your teams more efficient? At AppSheet we provide a platform that lets you turn spreadsheets into simple apps within hours, with no programming experience.
By standardising processes you can ensure no-one is re-inventing the wheel each time a task comes up again. An app can help you document what works best and direct everyone through the process. The right app can help everyone on the team gain access to the information they need and be crystal clear about what has to be done. We’ve created a number of standard apps to show you what’s possible. Could your non-profit benefit from an app that simplifies these tasks:
Enter locations and pick up details so that drivers can quickly check in and see what’s been assigned to them. A great way to replace printed or emailed delivery lists or ad-hoc job scheduling on the fly. See the Driver Dispatch Sample App.
Enable staff and volunteers at multiple locations to enter details of orders, sales or donations into a single app. You can see at a glance how you’re tracking against target and use the data to make on the fly decisions to manage resourcing and stock levels. See the Order Capture Sample App.
All of these apps can be downloaded and customised, or you could get started with your favourite spreadsheeting platforming and create your own. You may even have an existing spreadsheet that you’d love to convert to an app. Check out the amazing benefits of converting your spreadsheet to an app.
Instead of juggling timesheets or updating a spreadsheet manually once a week, staff and volunteers can enter their own hours into this simple timesheet app each day. You’ll have all the data at your fingertips without the hours of administration. See the Time Sheet Sample App.
How many hours do you spend running through systems and procedures with new staff or volunteers? A simple training app could consolidate all that valuable knowledge and information in one, easy to update location. Trainers could use the app to coach new teams on site, or team members could simply access the app to learn at their own pace. See the Employee Training Sample App.
Do your teams have lists of useful contact numbers on printed pages at their desks, or on sticky notes around their monitors? How often do you have to refer to an old email or document to find the number you’re looking for? What if you could consolidate all of these numbers in a central contacts app that everyone can access? See the Contact Directory Sample App
Using apps to streamline processes can make a huge difference to productivity at your nonprofit. Apps like Hootsuite, Canva and Slack can simplify processes and help you and your team get things done in less time. Add to this a suite of custom apps to meet your nonprofit’s specific and unique needs, and you’ll unearth hours of additional time every week to devote to making a real difference in people’s lives.