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Toolbox for Smaller Nonprofit Organizations

Recently, Charise Van Liew of fuseDC put together a toolbox entitled Toolbox for Smaller Nonprofit Organizations that was filled with tools that fuseDC recommends to, you guessed it, smaller nonprofits. fuseDC describes their organization as:

fuseDC is a cost-free, interactive support network by and for social justice professionals in Washington DC. We seek to inform, connect and strengthen local emerging leaders working for positive social change with a focus on the empowerment of low-income DC youth.

This is a great example of how nonprofits can take advantage of toolboxes on Social Source Commons by putting together toolboxes that can then be shared, embedded, customized, shared further, you name it.

People love recommendation lists. On Twitter, users are always posting links to articles like “10 tools to make you show up #1 in Google” and “15 ways to turn your email newsletter into a blockbuster movie.” And it’s no wonder. Lists are great! They’re compact, easy to scan, easy to digest and super flexible. Toolbox for Smaller Nonprofit Organizations is set up as a recommendation list of tools and sites for smaller nonprofits to take advantage of.

Which when you think about it, is an interesting question to think about. What do smaller nonprofit organizations need that larger organizations don’t? Many of the tools that come to mind for me are tools that automate processes that a larger org might have a staff person do. It looks like Charise was thinking the same way. WordPress, MeetingWizard, Google Voice, Eventbrite… All of these tools are low cost and seek to simplify their respective tasks.

How do you think larger organizations view these same tools?
Where do “Tools Used” overlap for small and large nonprofits?

What would you put into a toolbox for smaller nonprofit organizations?

3 Comments to Toolbox for Smaller Nonprofit Organizations

  1. May 28, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

    This list is not what I would call “easy” to digest. In a perfect world, at least one person would be dedicated full-time to implentation, integration, and management of these tools. But we all know that funders don't invest in that kind of talent because it's considered mostly “overhead”. And supporting it with earned income is a very difficult thing to do.

    There is a “tool” that would be in the larger nonprofits toolbox though, and probably not the smaller ones. It is called NetSuite and we migrated to it last year (actually, we're still in the process). Here's what it does:

    – CRM – all of our clients and contacts are in it. We use it for all-things client management and marketing.
    – Inventory – we scan all of our incoming donated and purchased equipment into the system. We assign a value to the donated equipment and the value automatically hits the balance sheet and can be tracked for in-kind purposes.
    – Donations/Sales – we're still setting this up but when it's done it will host our website and feature an ecomm store where hardware and services can be sold or donated. “Sales” are made online, invoices are cut, and inventory comes out of the system automatically.
    – Time and Payroll – all staff charge their time to whatever grants, projects, funders, and classes they're working on, using the built-in time tracking system. Timesheets are processed and paid by NetSuite Payroll every other week. Labor expenses, including taxes and some benefits, split automatically to wherever they belong (note: there is some manual processing here but nowhere near what we were doing with Quickbooks and our other payroll vendor).
    – Support – our clients can log in to the system and submit support tickets, pay bills, and update their contact info.
    – Financials – obviously GL, AR, AP and reports are included.

    There is obviously a lot more to it, and NetSuite is not open source or “free” software, but if anyone publishes a “large orgs toolbox”, NetSuite should be mentioned.

  2. Fiona MacDonald's Gravatar Fiona MacDonald
    May 29, 2010 at 1:57 am | Permalink

    Hi Jeff, we are considering Netsuite for very similar functions. I have been a bit concerned about them based on some websites I found. I would really appreciate talking about your experience with them if you have time.

    Send me tweet if you are interested: @fionamacd


  3. June 1, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the thoughts on the toolbox, Jeff! You say that Netsuite while suitable for larger nonprofits wouldn't be included in a smaller nonprofit toolbox. Why is that? Cost? Time investment or maybe scope? It sounds like you may have the beginnings of a good “Toolbox for Larger Nonprofit Orgs” you could put together on SSC. 😉

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