by Maria Lahiffe
Running a non-profit organization is a lot like running any business, but generally with a much lower operational budget. You need to communicate with multiple stakeholders, gather and manage data, keep appointments, receive payments, and loads of other tasks. If you were made of money, you could buy fancy machines and software to do all of this for you, but what about when your budget is stretched thin? There are a load of great services out there which are totally free.
We all need to keep our data secure. This becomes ever more urgent if your organization serves vulnerable people, like children, people with health challenges, or women escaping domestic abuse, for example. Go ahead, use your pet’s name as your password for your personal email if you’re comfortable with that level of risk, but when it comes to your organization, you really need to step up your game.
Fortunately, there is LastPass. This free application stores all your passwords and even generates hard-to-guess passwords using random letters, numbers, and characters. The storage is so secure that even LastPass themselves can’t find a way to decode your passwords.
You need to make sure that what you are doing is actually making a difference. Funders want to make sure that their funds are being used properly, your board wants to know that the organization is properly run, and the public may also have a vested interest.
Google Forms is a great way to create and manage surveys. You can ask over 10 different types of questions (like multiple choice, yes/no, long or short answer, and others). The user interface is clean and professional-looking, and the results can be viewed in chart form online, or downloaded to an Excel workbook for analysis.
Need to get five different people into the same conversation? Don’t pay for a fancy teleconferencing service, just use Fongo. This great service also allows you to create a phone number with an area code for a different part of Canada, so people in Vancouver don’t have to pay long distance charges to call you.
Do you occasionally sell products or services at events? Get Square! They will send you a credit card reader for free, which you can plug into the headphone jack of any smartphone. Then just swipe people’s credit cards to log their payments. The app even works when there is no internet connection. It stores the transactions on your phone until the next time you’re on wifi, then takes care of everything. You get a cheque in the mail a few weeks later.
Volunteer Ottawa offers a comprehensive suite of courses related to organizational operations. Click here for more information, and to register. Subscribe to our Event RSS Feed to be among the first to know when a new workshop is added to the schedule.
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