Finding discounted or free marketing tools for nonprofits helps stretch your marketing budget. More importantly, you can solve some of your most pressing marketing problems with software that doesn’t break the bank.
While not every tool in your organization’s technology stack needs to (or should) be free, there are lots of low and no-cost solutions out there—from graphics and photos to fundraising to relationship management.
We’ve broken out these free marketing tools for nonprofits into categories for you to consider based on the problem you’re facing and the solution we typically recommend to nonprofit clients.
Problem: Projects are dragging on and tasks are getting overlooked because your team is unsure of who’s doing what and where projects stand.
Free solution: The basic version of Asana is free. The project management and collaboration tool can help you more easily organize, plan and manage nonprofit marketing projects from start to finish. You can even use it for your editorial process or content calendar.
Get your whole team on board so that you can coordinate projects with multiple people, so everyone knows who’s doing what, what’s been completed, and what you have left to tackle. Set deadlines for yourself and share files and status updates within each task.
Problem: You’re still sending emails to your nonprofit’s list from a personal email account.
Free Solution: Mailchimp offers a free tier, where your nonprofit can send up to 10,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers a month.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we’re recommending Mailchimp since we suggest them to most of our clients getting started with a newsletter. The service allows you to produce professional emails that follow best practices for design and list management.
Problem: You want to advertise online and appear in search engines, but you don’t have the budget to pay for digital ads.
Free Solution: Google Ad Grants offer a Google Ads account with a $10,000 monthly cap to all eligible nonprofits at no cost to you. With Google Ads, you can create text-based ads and associate them with different keywords to appear within the search engine. When someone searches for a keyword you’ve chosen on Google, your ad could appear above or below the organic search results for that phrase.
And, if you’re struggling to build out or keep up your account, consider participating in Google’s Nonprofit Marketing Immersion program. You’ll be paired with marketing students or volunteers (along with an advisor) looking for experience on the platform.
Donor Relationship Management
Problem: You’re starting to have too many supporters to properly manage them all. Your fundraising processes are not streamlined and require lots of data entry.
Free Solution: The free version of Bloomerang is a good fit for small or start-up organizations looking to get a donor database up and running. In our review of the Bloomerang Donor Management System, we noted that it’s able to integrate with a range of online form builders that you might use on your website, users find it easy to set up and manage, and you’re able to customize the information you collect for each donor (up to 250 of them for free).
Problem: You need a way to connect your staff for marketing projects. We’re talking about securely sharing documents, circling up for video calls, synching up your calendars, etc.
Free Solution: Google Workspace for Nonprofits provides free access to a wide array of tools. It includes Gmail for staff emails (which can be set to use your website domain), Docs (so you can forget Microsoft Word), Calendar (that you can share with the whole team), Forms (to collect information or run surveys), Keep (for taking notes and capturing ideas) and Meet (for video calls).
It also includes Google Drive with 30GB of storage per user, which should be plenty of space when you’re starting out. Additional storage is also available at deeply discounted rates if you need it down the road.
Problem: You’re the lone marketer or staff member at your organization and need another set of eyes on something you’ve written before it’s published for the world to see.
Free Solution: While not a human set of eyes on your content, Grammarly offers a free basic plan that can help catch spelling, grammar and punctuation errors. It’s quick and easy to run your written material through the checker and identify things to fix or adjust. From there, you could also use the free Hemingway App to look at your content from a style and readability perspective for a final clean up.
Problem: You want to find a way to share data or create an online report that’s visually interesting, but you don’t have the time or budget to make something from scratch.
Free Solution: Tableau Public gives you the ability to make and share interactive visualizations like maps, graphs and dashboards. You can use your own data from a spreadsheet or PDF and even package it all together into a compelling story.
Hosting your designs online is free, too! Get inspiration by browsing nonprofit-related “Vizzes.”
Problem: You think your supporters would be willing to start fundraising campaigns, but you don’t have the budget or staff capacity for managing another fundraising platform.
Free Solution: Try the team fundraising capabilities that Give Lively offers as part of its free fundraising platform. Supporters can create and run their own campaigns, plus you can export the data to keep in touch with a growing donor network.
Social Media Management
Problem: You want to keep your social media accounts active, but who has the time or energy to log in and post that often?
Free Solution: Schedule posts in advance with Buffer. The tool has a free plan and integrates with all of the big social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. You’ll be able to link up to three social media accounts and prep up to 10 posts per channel before needing to upgrade to a paid plan.
Problem: You want to know if people are clicking on your content and where they’re coming from to know if your marketing is working.
Free Solution: Bitly has a free plan that allows you to shorten links and get reporting on their performance when you use them online.
Even better, the company just acquired QR Code Generator, another free offering that makes it easier for marketers to connect people to their campaign, event and other messaging.
Problem: You guess about the effectiveness of your nonprofit’s website and digital marketing projects when strategizing or making decisions, but aren’t able to use real results.
Free Solution: Google Analytics provides a free look at who is visiting your website, how they’re getting there and what actions they’re taking once they arrive. Set up dashboards to take a more focused, bite-sized look at your website data on a regular basis.
Problem: You’re not sure how people actually use and navigate your organization’s website, which makes it difficult to know how to make it better or where to invest in improvements.
Free Solution: Microsoft Clarity lets you dig a little deeper into how visitors are behaving on your website. The tool, which is completely free, allows you to look at heatmaps and recordings of real user sessions to see exactly which sections of your website are working as you hoped and which sections could use some love.
Problem: Your nonprofit deals with sensitive subjects, and you don’t have many photos that you can share online.
Free Solution: Use stock photos. Photos add intrigue, visually break up a page and draw the eye to your content. To start, check out Pexels and Unsplash. Both sites allow you to search for stock photos and download them for free, and we’ve seen the increasing availability of images that are inclusive and reflect diverse communities.
Problem: You want to be better about including graphics in your social media posts and on the blog, but don’t have a designer on your team. The photos on your website could use some love in general.
Free Solution: Canva is a free and easy-to-use tool for creating graphics or editing photos for your website and social media channels. Drag and drop elements like text boxes, frames, backgrounds, icons, or uploaded photos to add intrigue to your graphics. Plus, see how to use the free tool for editing photos to use on your website.
Problem: You don’t have the capacity or budget to build out a custom online forum for your community, but think they’d enjoy and benefit from communicating with each other.
Free Solution: Facebook Groups are a free and easy way to encourage discussion and connections in a place where your supporters are already spending their time.
Should your nonprofit start a group? Nonprofits can use Groups to facilitate support, connect volunteers, plan events, give board members a way to communicate informally and open communications for any other subsets of your organization, both big and small groups of people.
Problem: How you promote and organize volunteer opportunities is disjointed and incredibly manual. You’d like a way to promote volunteer opportunities on your website and easily communicate with volunteers once they sign up.
Free Solution: Our Volunteer Management plugin for WordPress makes organizing opportunities and managing volunteers easier. Quickly create and promote opportunities, accept applications and send reminder emails—all from your website.
Problem: You can’t keep track of all of your passwords, and some of your accounts use unsecured or repeated passwords.
Free Solution: We like using LastPass to store and manage all of our passwords. Remember one password to log in and have LastPass keep track of the rest. The free tool will automatically add usernames and passwords to any password-protected site that you visit. You can also use it to generate strong and secure new passwords and share them with other staff or volunteers at your nonprofit.
Problem: Your audience is interested in webinars, but you’d need a free platform through which to share them.
Free Solution: FreeConferenceCall.com allows for free video conference calls with up to 1,000 participants. The screen sharing, recording and chat capabilities through these calls can be a great free tool for conducting webinars for your nonprofit.
For professional development resources, check out our list of great free resources. However, not every problem has a free solution. For these situations, we typically suggest checking TechSoup for a wide variety of discounts on various technology products.
And if you find something that meets your needs elsewhere, it never hurts to ask about a discount for nonprofits! The worst they can do is say no.
Which free marketing tools for nonprofits do you use? Did we miss any on our list? Tell us how you work to solve marketing problems on a tight budget in the comments below.
This post was originally published on 4/10/19 and updated on 4/27/22 with additional tools and the latest details.