January 6, 2014

10 nonprofit productivity tools & apps to try in 2014

5logos

Stay lean & work smarter in the new year

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, foundations, NGOs, social enterprises, businesses, educators, journalists, general public.

Caroline AvakianMost of the nonprofit communicators I work with site lack of time and productivity as their number one job frustration. It’s true: Nonprofit professionals are often tapped out, working late hours just to keep up. Plus, many of my clients tell me they have no time to stay on top of the latest tools and apps that could help ease their work load.

So in an effort to help you enter 2014 armed with a set of tools to make your work life simpler, I’ve compiled a list of my 10 favorite productivity hacks that are free or come at minimal cost.

voxer

Voxer: Record your messages for playback later

1Voxer is a free walkie-talkie style phone app that lets you talk to anyone in the world using live text and voice. It also lets you send photos. Voxer really does works just like a walkie-talkie — only better, because it records all your messages for playback later. It’s especially great for international organizations that can use it to communicate with staff abroad in real time. I use this app for quick check-ins with clients working in East Africa and Asia. This is also a great tool for organizations running events throughout the year. Your event team can communicate with each other with this app versus renting pricier walkie-talkie kits for galas, fundraisers, etc.

HipChatIcon

HipChat: Private chat built for teams

2HipChat is a private chat service built for teams to share ideas and files in group chat rooms. HipChat allows for real-time project management and collaboration and lightens the load on you and your team’s email inbox. It also organizes your chats by project and saves your chats so you can review and pick up where you left off. No need to settle for AIM or to fire up a Google Hangout.

asana

Asana: Free project management

3Move over Basecamp, Asana has entered the project management playing field and created a free tool that does most of what the best project management tools do, plus it integrates nicely with Google Drive. Asana allows you to view all your projects at once with a three column view that includes features like work spaces, projects, tasks, tags, notes, comments and an inbox that organizes and updates information in real time. It’s free for teams of up to 15 users. Continue reading

August 23, 2011

4 tools to help build your social community


Image by orangebrompton on Flickr

Strike right balance between scheduled updates & direct interaction

Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, community managers, educators, NGOs, Web publishers, bloggers.

Shonali BurkeWhen trying to build an online community, I’ve found that one of the most important things to do is to participate consistently in your preferred channels. And not just participate as in talk a lot, but share interesting pieces of information so that your community knows you’re not just in this for you, you’re in this for them as well.

Inevitably, then, the time question comes up: “How can I always be online? Is there a way for me to cut down the amount of time I spend in social media?”

Yes and no. Yes, there are various tools you can use to cross-post your updates, for example, or to automate your updates. (See Socialbrite’s handy roundup of 10 social media dashboard tools.) But the “no” part of this answer is that if you’re going to try and cross-post every single update, or automate your posting schedule completely, I think you’ll flop.

How to maximize your social media time

Assuming you agree with that “yes and no” answer, here are four tools I’ve been finding very useful recently. They might help you, too.

Networked Blogs

NetworkedBlogs: Syndicate your blog to Facebook

1I tried NetworkedBlogs — one of many auto-posting services that syndicate your blog to Facebook — early on and then, for some reason, stopped. But recently, Ken Mueller wrote about nearly tripling his blog traffic by using, among others, NetworkedBlogs, and that made me decide to try it again.

Since coming back to NetworkedBlogs, I noticed that you can also syndicate to Twitter (though I’m not using that option).

How I’ve been using it: I had set up both my blogs to syndicate to my Facebook Page (that’s where Waxing UnLyrical goes) and my personal profile (that’s where my food blog goes). In addition, Waxing UnLyrical goes through to a secret Facebook group that I’ve set up for all the regular guest bloggers. I’m also testing this for a client blog — syndicating to the Page as well as a supporting Group.

Hiccup: Since I’m also testing Livefyre’s new SocialSync feature, I ran into problems with comments that I got on my Facebook posts not being pulled into the comment stream on Waxing UnLyrical (that’s what SocialSync does, it pulls in comments from Facebook and Twitter). Jenna Langer at Livefyre told me this was because when syndicating via NetworkedBlogs, NetworkedBlogs’ URL masks the actual blog URL and loads the site in an iFrame. (Sorry for that geek interruption.) Because Livefyre can’t see that that’s part of the conversation, those specific comments don’t show up in my Waxing Unlyrical comment stream.

But if you’re not using Livefyre as your comment system, you should be fine, and it’s worth a try because it does make the posts show up nicely in Facebook.

triberr

Triberr: Get your Twitter updates shared

2Much has been written about Triberrwhether automated tweets being shared by a “tribe” are a good thing, whether it can be gamed, and so on. When Gini Dietrich invited me into my first tribe, I had absolutely no hesitation in accepting.

I think Triberr is a great way to share posts – and get your posts shared – by a select group of people you trust. While there is a setting in Triberr that allows you to go in and check what’s due to be posted to Twitter via your account, I rarely check it.

Why? Because I’ve seen consistently good content being produced by fellow tribe members, and I trust them. So trust is key.

How I use it: I keep my Triberr settings on “auto” mode. This helps me because I don’t have to worry about going to Tribe members’ blogs (or to my Reader) to find the posts and tweet them out (though I still try to do that so that I can comment as often as possible). Continue reading