Five Free Tools All Nonprofit Marketing Managers Should Know About

Blog Contributor: Kristen Mueller, Director of Communications at Earth Force

Last month, YNPN St. Louis held an evening Brown Bag focused on Building Your Nonprofit Brand with Rachel Kraby, Marketing & Communications Manager at Missouri Baptist Medical. 

She offered up some great tips, like making sure your brand is blossoming out of your organization’s strategic plan (AKA, if you don’t have a strategic plan, you’re not ready to build out your brand.) She also talked limiting your avenues of communications. She asked how many of us managed multiple social media accounts for our organization, and nearly all of us said we used three or more. She said this stretched an organization’s communications too thin. Chose one or two (she recommended Facebook above all else) and try to deeply engaged your stakeholders.

This was great advice, and got to the larger issue that so many of us face, supporting marketing/communications for nonprofits: capacity. There’s never a shortage of great ideas, but finding the time and then determining what to prioritize can be a struggle! 

To help my fellow nonprofit communicators, I wanted to share five FREE tools that can help make your job easier AND save you time and money. 

  1. Canva: Not a graphic designer, huh? Canva is a lifesaver! It’s is a free design tool that allows you to make dynamic graphics to use on social media, blogs, print materials, etc. Before I found it, I was constantly struggling to get the dimensions right for Facebook and Twitter headers, not to mention, my company invested big bucks for tools that I only partially understood how to use.
  2. HARO: Want to up your organizations visibility? I just recently discovered this media tool, and I love it. Over 35,000 journalist submit story requests to this website. Once you sign up (for free), you get three emails a day (morning, afternoon and evening) that are filled with requests from publications like the Huffington Post, Mashable, Time Magazine and more. I search the emails for key words (because there can be a lot of content). If something matches the work we do around education or the environment, I simply reply to their request.
  3. Piktochart: I use Pikochart when I want to put an eye-catching graphic together that tells a story. Piktochart is really easy to use and allows you to put a lot of content in an easy to read design. Another trick: the free version has the Piktochart logo on the bottom, but I use a free online photoshop tool to crop it right out!
  4. PicMonkey: Speaking of free options to Photoshop, PicMonkey is an easy to navigate tool when needing to manipulate a photo. You can add effects like on Instagram, smooth out a subject’s skin, and seamlessly make adjustments to the picture’s brightness, sharpness, contract, etc.
  5. Nonprofit Marketing Guide: If you don’t already subscribe to this blog, subscriber right now! I learned about most of the tool’s above through this site. They have a great blog, offer monthly writing prompts (argh, writer’s block…), and regularly host free webinars around topics like annual reports, social media, managing up, and tips and tricks.

I would love to hear about your favorite FREE marketing/communications tools. Share them in our comments or on our Facebook page.