Top Online Collab Tools for NGO / Non-profits

online collab tools for NGO and non-profits

Top Online Collab Tools for NGO / Non-profits

Top Online Collab Tools for NGO / Non-profits 1000 750 AY Institute

We all know Google Docs (i.e. Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms), but what else is there for online collaboration? In this blog post we look at readily available and less known online collab tools for NGO and non-profits.

It is true that most of online (collaboration) tools are made for businesses. However, NGOs can benefit from them just as much. What is more, non-profits can usually get free or heavily discounted access to those tools. See the bottom of this post for a simple explanation on how to do that.

Being adept in online collaboration is especially important in the times of global pandemic. Most of the teams are working remotely and that can severely impact the quality of their work. Yet, I’m sure you know or have experienced that already. Why else you would be reading this post then? In any case let us get to business of online collab tools for NGO.

  • Est. reading time: ~3 minutes
  • Briefly: we tell about 6 user-friendly online collaboration tools and explain why they are useful for NGOs.

What powerful tools are used by top NGOs?

  1. MindMeister or Miro – for project design / visualisation / mind mapping
  2. Google Jamboard or Padlet – for brainstorming
  3. Slack – for daily communication / meetings
  4. Trello – for project / task management

Why did we choose these tools? They are easy to use and collaborate, effective and free for non-profits. Also, they help in very important spheres of NGOs’ work (which are affected by lack of physical collaboration).

Note: there might be better alternatives for the tools mentioned in this article. We would recommend to look for and decide what is the best in your particular case.

1. Designing projects with MindMeister

Visualising projects (as well as other things) online is always a challenge. Especially, if you have to do it together with a team. Thus, we at Active Youth Association were more than happy when we found MindMeister. In short, it is a magic tool that allows to collaboratively draw and connect various text-boxes. Which, of course, is how successful project proposals are visualised / designed.

  • NGOs can use for: mind mapping, visualisation of projects, strategies, result chains, etc.
  • Price model: freemium (i.e. free for a basic version)
  • Difficulty: easy to use
  • Learn more
online collab tool for NGO project visualisation

Project’s logical framework visualised on MindMeister

Great alternative: Miro
  • Pros: Miro offers several highly useful templates to start mind mapping (e.g. a Business Model Canvas, Customer Journey Map, etc.)
  • Cons: can get a tad slow to load up and cumbersome (especially, when many boards are created)
  • Learn more
Page body image

Miro mind map’s interface

2. Brainstorming with Google Jamboard

Google Jamboard is one of those tools that are built with maximum simplicity in mind. You (or your team) get a one-page board and can do whatever you like with it (just as you would with a real-life pin board). Some of the things that can be jammed on your Jamboard: notes, pictures, drawings, lists, etc.

  • NGOs can use for: brainstorming, project / task management
  • Price model: free
  • Difficulty: very easy to use
  • Learn more
Google Jamboard brainstorming tool for NGOs

Brainstorming by pinning notes on a Google Jamboard

Great alternative: Padlet
  • Pros: you can select different board set-ups for pinning notes. For example: a map board, a timeline board, etc. This feature can be very useful in certain situations
  • Cons: premium features are paid, a bit less user-friendly (when compared to Google Jamboard)
  • Learn more
Online colab tools for NGO Padlet

Padlet allows to start with a range of different board set-ups

4. Daily communication with Slack

There is a good reason why most professionals do not use Facebook Messenger / WhatsApp or similar apps. They are distractive, usually used for personal life / chats and simply not made for work. Slack is the exact opposite of that! Meaning that you will not get messaged by a friend or be served a flashy advertisement while discussing a project. Furthermore, it combines both messaging and group video calls in one tool.

  • NGOs can use for: daily communication within different teams, online meetings
  • Price model: free for NGOs (see below)
  • Difficulty: easy to use (yet, somewhat harder to master fully)
  • Learn more

Are you already using Slack and would like to become better with it? See top Slack hacks / tips.

5. Task management with Trello

One more simple tool, which is basically a kanban board. In essence, a board on which you visualise the flow of tasks (from to be done to completed, for example). To put it differently, Trello helps you to see and track the progress of your project(s). The usage is very intuitive; yet, the free version is mostly suited for smaller teams (up to 6-7 people) and limited amount of projects.

  • NGOs can use for: task management, project management
  • Price model: freemium (i.e. free for a basic version)
  • Difficulty: easy to use
  • Learn more
Trello task management tool for NGO

Trello kanban interface allows you to track the progress of tasks in an user friendly way.

Tools for rocking online meetings, webinars, workshops

Have Zoom fatigue already? You are not the only one. That is why we have create a guide to most useful digital tools for online meetings, webinars, workshops, etc. They are designed to make your online events more interesting, engaging and productive.

How to get free access to online collab tools for NGO?

Most online collaboration tools provide discounted or free access for non-profits. Usually you can acquire this:

  • through TechSoup global network. This entity gives NGOs, non-profits and charities across the world a free (or discounted) access to software and/or hardware. How to get it? This might vary from country to country; thus, please check TechSoup website for conditions.
  • or by messaging/emailing the software company directly and asking if they any have special plans for NGOs. My advice here: do not be shy to do it.
Do you have any more free resources for NGOs and non-profits?

Yes, our organisation has made plenty of guides for fellow NGOs / youth workers. Find the most useful ones here.

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