In our thinking, small non-profits and businesses have many of the same requirements that big organizations have for technology solutions to serve their organizations including staff, customers and, in the case of non-profits, supporters and volunteers. The issue is that they lack the resources that larger organizations have to implement the required technologies.
Fortunately, the advent of the world wide web and a plethora of no/low cost web services have enabled organizations to achieve their objectives. For example, WordPress, Drupal, Ulbercart and CiviCRM are prime examples of “open source software” in which contributed software can be used and changed by any web developer with no license fees. These organizations provide the web community with high quality, functionally rich software at no cost to the end user. I highly recommend that, if you use their software, consider making a donation to support their ongoing development, maintenance and operations costs.
Another great example is Google for Non-Profits. Google provides free premium access to non-profit organizations for:
- Google Apps for Nonprofits (Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Drive)
- Google Ad Grants
- YouTube Nonprofit Program
- Google Earth Outreach
This is a great program from a great company. We have used it very successfully with several of our clients.
Sidebar for non-profits – Amazon has a great program, “Amazon Smile“, in which Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organization of your choice.
In terms of trends, the technological shift is towards “cloud-based services” in which the software is run on remote platforms and accessible over the Internet. For example, our local animal shelter, Pet Network, uses Petango for advertising adoptable dogs and cats and managing the adoption process. It also uses another web service, Volgistics, for managing volunteers. These are just two examples of industry-specific services available to small organizations.
While a web site provides an organization with a virtual presence, it should be considered only as one part of their communications plans. For e-mail communications, consider using Constant Contact or MailChimp. For payments, many small organizations use PayPal for the convenience of PayPal buttons and forms but there are other alternatives available that, while more complicated to implement and charge fees, are more flexible than PayPal.
Bottom line – through the use of “open source” software and free/low cost web services, a small organization can provide similar (okay perhaps a bit rougher around the edges) services to their constituents that a larger organizations with more resources can provide. The Internet does level the playing field. Shboing can help you implement these technologies on a cost effective basis.