Five free tools that will boost support for your charity

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Imagine if you could create an influx of support for your organisation without emptying your pockets? These five free tools are a great start.

1. Improve with the click of a button: What if you could just fill out a form and it told you all of the things that you were doing wrong or could do better, and then showed you how? If you haven’t heard about it yet, take a look at Big Potential. It’s a ‘diagnostic tool’ that lets you do exactly this. Following an online questionnaire, a few helpful steps including an advice session with a funder indicate what you’d need to do to secure different types of funding from simple loans to social investment.

2. Make your charity business plan irresistible to funders: A business plan is often treated as a document required to satisfy a particular funder. But a really good business plan can do much more. It can focus your organisation’s thinking and articulate your future plans in a way that will communicate clearly with all your stakeholders – including diverse funders offering grants, loans or social investment. Charities and social enterprises that work on their business plans gain more control over their future and are able to reach more people. The Cranfield Trust shares business expertise with diverse charitable organisations and supports them to develop business plans free.

3. Gain supporters through advertising: AdWords, Google's online advertising program, is a great way to promote your mission among donors, volunteers and other stakeholders. You can place an advert, which is displayed to people who are already searching for things relevant to the work you do. These are the people most likely to respond to your message. You can choose where your ad appears, on which specific websites and in which geographical areas and you can monitor its impact. Google AdGrants is the non-profit version of AdWords, designed to help you promote your organisation online. If you meet the eligibility criteria the service is free until you've used $10,000 worth of advertising.

4. Keep in touch with your community: Email newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with your supporters, update them or point them towards helpful information. Mailchimp is email newsletters made really simple, and the best thing is it is free if you have fewer than 2000 subscribers so it is perfect for smaller charities and social enterprises. If you’re looking to grow, sharing your content is a great way to do this and Mailchimp’s email marketing guides are a good place to start.

5. Make yourself heard online: In a digital age you can introduce your organisation to a potentially huge online audience, explain your mission and the work that you do. Via blogs, tweets or simply on a website you can tell your story. People are bombarded with text and information online so they need to be able to grasp what you are telling them quickly if they are going to act on it. The Hemingway App is a quick trick you can use to help you write and make your blog or web copy reader friendly. Just copy and paste and it will tell you if you’re being too wordy.

If any of these pointers leave you wanting more information, let us know and we can put more guidance together in our February newsletter. Email idegrave@charitybank.org