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Photo: Al X, Unsplash

8 free digital tools for small NGOs

17 April 2018
Author: Thomas Worley

Over half of the world’s population is now online, social media apparently knows you better than your spouse, and the value of internet donations goes up every year. Digital offers opportunities for organisations of all shapes and sizes, whether that’s reaching more people, raising more funds or just doing your work better. 

One advantage of digital is that it can level the playing field between big and small. Of course, paying for social media advertising or nice graphics can give great results but there’s lots you can achieve with little or no budget. We’ve picked out eight tools that could help small international development organisations to be more effective.

Google advertising

If you’re not already using the Google grants programme, you really should be. It gives you up to $10,000 of free digital advertising every month, allowing you to reach thousands of potential supporters. It does take a bit of time to set up and needs regular monitoring – particularly with Google’s recent changes - but it can give a big boost to your website. Check out this blog for information on how to get started

DFID funding search

Not everybody knows that DFID lists all its contracts and grants online. The funding finder is an easy way to search for suitable grants using the filters on the left. The supplier portal shows all contracts currently available, although you can only search by keyword or country. 

Information on aid spending

The Donor Tracker offers free, independent analysis of 14 major OECD donors, including the UK, the US and the EU. It has lots of information on how donors spend their money and which donors are working on certain themes.

Community management

Do you have campaigners and volunteers in different parts of the world? Mobilize offers an easy way to manage your relationships and get people to take action. It shouldn’t replace your email newsletter but it could be a better way to work with your most dedicated supporters. There’s a free version, as well as a limited grants programme.

Simple graphic design

Canva is an easy tool for creating graphics, and it’s all drag-and-drop so you don’t need any technical skills. It’s particularly helpful for social media, but it could also be used for event invitations, website icons or infographics. Even better, charities can have the premium version for free.

Photo gathering

Everything looks better with a nice image to go with it. If you don’t have your own photo library there’s various free collections you can use. Lots of organisations put their photos on Flickr – check out DFID, EU ECHO and UN Women for starters. Many but not all of the images are free to use under creative commons, so make sure to check the license. 

Unsplash also has some beautiful free images. Rather than searching for “international development”, try searching for a specific country or topic to get a different selection of photos. Another option, particularly for photos of women, is Images of Empowerment, which uses a creative commons license.

Social media images

Got an image you want to use on social media but not sure whether it’s the right size? Upload it to Landscape, select which networks it’ll appear on, and the tool will resize it for you. 

Publishing to IATI

Many NGOs need to publish aid data in accordance with the IATI standard but, particularly for small organisations, this can be overly-technical and complicated. Fortunately, AidStream lets you sidestep the fiddly XML data by filling out a form instead, which it then converts into the correct code. 

There are lots of other free international development tools in our resource library.

About the author

Thomas Worley
Bond

Tom Worley is the digital communications coordinator at Bond.