Five free efficiency-driving tools for charities

We showcase some of the best free project and time management tools for small charities to do more on a shoestring.

Chrissy Chiu | 31st Jul 19
Image of tools against a woodbackground, representing free tools for charities

Managing teams and projects is hard – especially on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are lots of free tech tools for charities which can help boost productivity, save time, and allow charities to focus on the mission.

Whether you’re communicating with teams working across multiple locations, organising the next charity fundraiser, or trying to find a date for the next board meeting, trialling some of the latest efficiency tools for charities can help, especially when they’re entiterely free or offer free basic options.

> See also: The best online fundraising platforms for charities


Collaboration app for charities – Slack

Slack is an essential productivity tool to help charities of all sizes streamline their communication with staff, volunteers and external teams. The messaging app that allows teams to communicate in a quick, informal manner.

Comparable to WhatsApp’s improved group text messaging over traditional text messages, Slack delivers a similar service tailored for the business environment. Conversations can be direct or arranged around Teams (Finance, Service Delivery, etc.) or Projects (Fundraiser, Website Launch, etc.), documents can be shared, and users can be tagged on items so to ensure they are alerted to things key for them to look at. Slack can also integrate with a number of other tools, such as Google Calendar, Outlook, and Trello.

Slack offers a free, and two paid plans that are more feature-rich and offer bigger storage size. Slack for Nonprofits offers free or discounted subscription upgrades for eligible organisations.

Image shows screenshot from company messaging app Slack
Image credit: Slack


Project Management for charities – Trello

Helping charities project manage, Trello enables teams to organise projects in a simple, easy-to-use platform. Charity projects are organised on to ‘Boards’, on which tasks are shown in a post-it note format. Teams across the charity can filter and prioritise tasks on each board, and it can be used in endless different ways – lots of ideas on the Trello blog.

Trello allows users to add checklists within tasks, assign ownership, set deadlines and attach relevant documents. Owners can tag team members to tasks so they can track progress and add comments as relevant, helping keep content logged in a single place relevant to that task.

Trello is mainly free, but there are paid plans. Charities could be eligible for a 75% discount on Trello Business Class and Enterprise.

Screenshow from Trello app
Image credit: Trello


> See also: 16 excellent digital resources for charities

Project Management for charities – Asana

Like Trello, Asana allows users to set-up and manage projects and tasks. Slightly more complex than Trello, Asana has several different view options such as lists and calendar view, and also provides better reporting features. Projects management for charities can be mapped into a Timeline (similar to a traditional Gannt Chart) to help visualise how projects fit together and track progress over time. Common processes can be set-up as templates so projects can be repeated in a consistent way each time, making the management of multiple projects more efficient.

The free version of Asana is available for organisations of up to 15 people. For larger organisatons, eligible nonprofits can receive a 50% discount on Asana Premium or Asana Business.

Screenshot from project management app Asana

Scheduling – Group Meetings: Doodle

Doodle is a free scheduling app (with a paid ad-free option) that allows charities to coordinate with team members to find the best date/time to meet-up, thus removing the need to scroll through endless email chains and juggle multiple agendas in order to find a slot that works for all.

Organising the next charity meeting, be it a board meeting or team drinks, using Doodle is simple. The organiser can select the dates/times that work and then send the link to invitees. Importantly for recipients, there is no need to download anything in order to respond. Doodle records everyone’s availability, helping to choose the best date for the meeting.

Screenshot from appointment booking app Doodle


Scheduling – One-on-One Meetings: Calendly

Calendly is a calendar app for charities that is powerful for arranging 1-on-1 meetings, such as volunteer feedback sessions. Recording availability within the Calendly calendar, and then sharing the link to with charity partners, colleagues, volunteers etc. Once recipients have selected the best time for them, the event is added to the calendar and the appointment slot is removed from time management app – preventing duplication of bookings.

Between the two scheduling tools, Calendly is more suitable for arranging 1-on-1 meetings, whereas Doodle is more powerful for arranging group meetings.

Calendly basic is free, or has three paid options.

Screenshot from Calendly app
Image credit: Calendly