Non-profit organizations are typically very effective at accomplishing incredible feats, while having access to very few resources.
One hard-to-find resource is the money required to run the non-profit and in many cases, cash generation is primarily dependent on generous donations.
With extremely tight cash flow, it is more important than ever to spend wisely. The good news is that many for-profit organizations offer special programs and discounts to non-profits that result in significant savings, or may even be free in some cases.
Let’s take a look at some of these discount programs and try to save your non-profit some money.
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1. TechSoup: a Non-Profit Helping Other Non-Profits
Techsoup.org is partnered with many of the world’s leading technology companies to bring discounted products and services to qualified organizations. If you are looking for any type of hardware or software then this site is definitely a good place to start your search.
While the site charges what it refers to as an admin fee for each product, these fees are significantly lower than what you will pay at a regular store. Some of the most popular choices include large discounts on Microsoft Office, QuickBooks Premier and Norton Anti-virus software, not to mention significant discounts on both new and refurbished hardware such as desktop and laptop computers.
2. Email Marketing Service
Building an email list is just as important at a non-profit as it is at a regular business. After all you need a way to reach people that are interested in what you are doing. Unfortunately, email marketing costs can quickly get out of control as your list size grows.
While there are many email marketing services to choose from, services such as GetResponse, AWeber and Benchmark currently offer non-profit discounts ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent. These are great savings but they can’t beat the free service offered by VerticalResponse which allows for up to 10,000 emails to be sent every month.
3. Phone Service
This is another recurring monthly expense that can cost upwards of a few hundred dollars depending on how many phones are in use. It is all too common for non-profits to simply bundle phone service with Internet service from a company such as Comcast. While this is certainly an easy option, it is definitely the more expensive option as opposed to unbundling your services and using a different provider for your phone service.
Some providers such as Cabertel specialize in helping non-profits minimize this cost as much as possible by offering customized solutions, and discounts that include free phones and reduced monthly fees.
4. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
CRM software is not something that every non-profit needs, but for those that do, there are some great options available. Probably the most well known CRM solution is offered by Salesforce.com which provides up to 10 subscriptions of its Sales Cloud Enterprise Edition software at no cost to non-profits.
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This is effectively a $15,000 per year savings. A second alternative is Zoho CRM, which has a free edition that is available to all types of businesses, while non-profits can still get discounts on premium editions.
Google for Nonprofits enables free access to a suite of premium tools such as email, storage, surveys, webinars and video-conferencing. Another fantastic program offered here is the Google Ad Grants program that provides eligible non-profits with up to $10,000 per month in Adwords advertising credits. Take advantage of this to raise awareness, promote your website and reach your target audience.
6. Web Hosting
Grassroot.org offers free web hosting to non-profits through its partnership with Bluehost web hosting. An alternative to also consider is Dreamhost, which also offers free web hosting to non-profits. These are both great options to get your website up and running without incurring any additional hosting costs.
7. Online Backup and Storage
Backing up and storing files should be a top priority for every non-profit organization, especially if you are using older computers that have seen better times. One company that has made it part of its mission to help non-profits is Box. The company offers up to 10 started licenses for free while also providing considerable discounts on its Business and Enterprise licenses.
8. Microsoft Office 365
Run all your Microsoft Office applications in the cloud in addition to receiving access to cloud storage, conferencing capabilities and many more features. All of this is free to qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations.
9. Digital Transaction Management
Streamline your business processes and reduce paperwork headaches and expenses with a digital transaction management solution. A service such as DocuSign currently offers a 30 percent discount to non-profits and its cloud based software can help with grant applications, volunteer screening, membership renewals, event registration and obtaining electronic signatures on important documents.
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10. Open Source Software Solutions
While non-profits can certainly get some significant discounts on popular software and services, it may still be worth exploring some of the many open source software tools that are widely available.
Some examples are phpList for email marketing, Asterisk for phone service, CivicCRM for customer relationship management, ownCloud for online storage and Apache Openoffice for word processing and spreadsheets. Many of these solutions do however require a good level of technical knowledge to effectively install and maintain.
As you can see there are certainly a number of ways in which you can save money for your non-profit when determining what tech products or services to select.
A final note to consider is that most Managed IT service providers should be able to either provide advice or simply take care of all this for you.