Your team can be small but mighty with these free resources nonprofits can use to market themselves.
Creating a robust content marketing strategy doesn’t have to break the bank to be rich in quality. While many professional marketing agencies and creative departments often rely on digital tools and online software to create, manage and track content, these platforms can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars—a big ask for nonprofit organizations with small budgets and even smaller marketing departments. But like any organization, nonprofits still must be able to communicate with the public to market events, garner donations, and spread the word on the incredible things they’re doing.
We recognize the importance of this at Yakkety Yak, so we’ve put together a list of a few of our favorite free tools nonprofits can use to get the job done. With these programs, you don’t need to be a graphic design pro to make stunning images, or struggle to remember if you sent that Instagram post or not. Check them out below, and bookmark for future use!
Free Graphics Software
Don’t have a graphic designer on staff? No sweat. Websites like Canva allow users to make incredible custom graphics for free, as well as offer options to upgrade to more features. We love Canva because it’s modern, sleek and super easy to use—plus it contains tons of layouts, templates, stock photos and color/text options so you can easily churn out compelling graphics that pass as professionally-made. Pixlr is another great tool, providing photo editing capabilities that allow you to both edit your pictures to perfection and create collages. Think of new versions like Pixlr X and Pixlr Editor as “Photoshop Light”—offering up lots of similar features for free.
Free Versions of Linkin.bio
Linkin.bio by Later for Instagram is a great tool for connecting your audience with links to your pages and products—whether you want them to sign-up for a 5K, buy into a service or just read a blog post. But because links aren’t clickable in Instagram posts like they are on other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you need to include them in your Instagram’s “bio” section. That’s where a scheduling platform to automatically update your links in accordance with your posts comes in handy. LNK.BIO is a free program that allows you to add and change as many links as you want, as well as access to an elegant landing page where you can add your custom links. Similarly, Linktr.ee lets users optimize their links by allowing them to cross-post to multiple social channels at once, saving time, effort and precious brainpower.
Free Scheduling Platforms
One of the No. 1 ways to ensure you’re reaching your audience (and building it!) is by posting regularly and by differentiating your content. The best way to do that is through a scheduling platform, which allows you to schedule your posts in advance so you don’t have to dedicate time to it each day, or even each week. An awesome feature of most big social media platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more—is that they come with built-in scheduling features.
- On Facebook, business and community pages can either go to the “Publishing Tools” tab at the top of the page, or begin a post as normal, but change the timing button from “Share Now” to “Schedule.”
- Twitter offers Tweetdeck, which lets users schedule tweets ahead of time, including photos, links and tags.
- For Instagram, Later allows you to schedule and post directly to Instagram, as well as offer hashtag suggestions.
These are all free and already at your fingertips! But if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop, sites like Buffer and Hootsuite also offer free versions of their robust features, which let users sync multiple different social media channels to their platform so you can simultaneously cross-schedule and publish to more than one place. Both platforms also allow you to test drive any of their premium, paid plans.
Free Content Organizers
Creating an editorial calendar is key in keeping track of what content will get posted and when. They’re also great for collaboration—team members can edit and review the calendars to make changes or add comments or questions, and you can follow the evolution of your content as well as your team’s workflow. Two basic, free and easy software programs perfect for ed cals are Google Drive and Microsoft Office.
- In Google Drive, you can create shareable folders, documents (Google Docs) and spreadsheets (Google Sheets), which all allow you to plan, create and track your content in one place. Anyone with a Gmail account has access to Google Drive.
- While Microsoft Office itself isn’t free, most organizations already use it for document creation, Excel, and more. The good news is that these programs also double as free content organizers, meaning there’s no need to pay for an additional content management system.
We also love sites like Trello, and use both Hubspot and Asana here at the Yakkety Yak HQ. All three offer different styles of organizing your content along with key features, like assigning projects to specific team members, setting deadlines, adding notes and more.
Free Analytics Tools
Tracking how well your content is performing is essential. How often is your content being viewed and shared? How much traffic is it driving to your site? Which content is performing the best? These are all questions marketers and analytics experts ask themselves constantly. Fortunately, just like channel-specific scheduling features, many sites also offer a free look into valuable performance insights that let you know how your content is doing.
- Facebook Insights offers a thorough and dynamic look at your posts’ performance. Here, you can see how many times your content has come across a person’s newsfeed, how many times someone interacted with it, and even when someone didn’t like it—giving you the info you need to adjust your social strategy as needed.
- Twitter Analytics gives each profile a 28-day breakdown of its number of tweets, tweet impressions, profile visits, mentions and followers and how those stats compare against the previous 28 days. It will also give you an in-depth look into the types of people your followers are, and which of your posts are doing the best.
- Instagram Insights gives you a snapshot of your posts’ performance throughout the week, breaking it down by content, activity and audience. The content tab will highlight how many views each post had, including stories—while the activity tab shows how people interacted with it, and the audience tab shows how many followers you’ve gained or lost in the last 7 days, as well as their location, age and gender.
- LinkedIn offers some limited, but useful, insights—but premium and paying accounts can also unlock other tools. If you’re managing an individual profile, you can see some information on who has viewed the profile, as well as how many people have seen your posts. If you’re managing a business page, the “Analytics” tab will give you information on visitor demographics, as well as metrics on your posts (“updates”) and follower count.
- Medium is a free publishing platform that can be great for starting up a sleek, simple and modern blog where you can showcase your written content. In its “Stats” section, Medium gives you insights into which posts had the most interactions, views and reads.
Free Email Platforms
Nowadays, email is the mail. Whether you’re using it as a place for members or volunteers to reach out with inquiries, are growing your newsletter list or just need an all-around communications venue, every nonprofit will need some kind of email service.
- Gmail is Google’s email platform and is widely used. It’s free to create a single account, which also gives you access to Google Drive, where you can use Docs and Sheets to plan content. We love Gmail and use it here at Yakkety Yak because of its organized design, ease of use, reliability and the Gmail app. If you want to add multiple accounts, it’s only $6 per month to upgrade to GSuite, the business version of Gmail.
- Outlook is Microsoft’s answer to email, and is another popular platform to use. Like Gmail, Outlook has an app and seamlessly integrates with a number of other software, making it an agile communications tool. Outlook is free to start, but also offers upgrades that gives access to other users.
- Facebook Messenger: While it’s not a full-fledged email service, Facebook messenger can work in a pinch or as a free, less robust substitute for email. More and more, companies are relying on Facebook Messenger to be at its front lines of customer service when visitors come to a page—popping up with intuitive question prompts, acting halfway between a live chat and email platform. Many businesses now communicate with customers directly via Facebook Messenger, making it a solid contender for a free, simple “email” service.
With these tools, nonprofits can execute a killer content marketing strategy without draining their budget. Programs like Canva, Gmail and social media analytics give nonprofits the power they need to produce expert-level content on their own—keeping them active and engaged with their members and the public.
Need some help getting started? We’ve got you! Contact the Yakkety Yak team today.