eTapestry and other freebies
As a low-budget nonprofit, we’re always on the look-out for good deals or better yet, free stuff! After speaking with a very amiable woman from Blackbaud, I was explaining my need for tracking our membership, donors, fundraising efforts, etc. All that boring data management to substantiate we’re doing our job and doing it well. The catch, as usual, I needed it fast and cheap. She suggested eTapestry, a Blackbaud product that is practically free. I say practically because it appears to have some costs for consulting and perhaps a few other fees I might discover along the way. Their customer service seems very responsive so this is a presumptive endorsement. I’ll post a full review of their services after a few months of use.
Other tips for running a low-cost, high-tech organization:
1) Skype: we think it’s great for conferencing not to mention having a regular phone number and voicemail. Downside is that it’s a foreign based operation so paying for service is sometimes a hassle, and I haven’t found a phone number to contact the phone service so if you know it, please send it our way!
2) Web hosting: with so many websites available, it’s easy to pick one and purchase for a relatively low price (around $10/year). Hosting is a bit more expensive but the basic version comes with email and averages around $5 per month. As I mentioned before, the name of your organization does matter not only for searchability but also the all important website selection.
Our only regular “overhead” costs consist just of phone and webhosting. We’re about as streamlined as it gets, and this has its advantages. A larger percent of donations go directly to getting info and support to trauma survivors. The main drawback is that banks and the IRS require a physical location and haven’t quite caught up with the virtual wave yet though I’m sure they will in time. Other costs have included web design, which took a chunk at the beginning, and advertising is another intermittent biggie for us, but facebook and google make this relatively inexpensive yet effective with colorful charts (that make the data more fun). Blogs and twitter have been another effective ad-type platform and free! The biggest cost then is simply time. So the more you know about programming or programs to use, the better off you are since the web can be a great (practically) free tool when used properly.
As for accepting donations-the other side of nonprofit service life-we’ve tried paypal which is free to use but takes a percent off the top of each donation. I’ve seen alternatives listed on other nonprofit sites and will be checking into those this fall. If you have any recommendations, do tell. Email us at email@example.com.
And keep coming back for more!