Free tools and resources for non-profits

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Starting a non-profit organization feels great. It is a positive step towards giving back to the community. However, things turn difficult when costs of office, employees, and others remain but most of the grants do not keep such cost in consideration. The funding is almost entirely for the activities and the other cost of running a project are greatly curtailed. I am managing my company from my home because I wanted to keep the cost minimal and none of the projects through my organization had any space for overhead cost. That being said being a non-profit also makes you privy to apply for some other benefits. I applied to some of these resources for my non-profit company Sustainability and Environmental Studies Endeavor (SENSE). I will list a few below.

Canva: Canva for Nonprofits provides every registered non-profit with premium features of Canva Pro for up to 50 people in your organization. The digital content for our Save Our Wetlands campaign was majorly worked upon this access. Even our campaign book was also prepared using this feature. For cost comparison Canva Pro costs USD 6.49 per month per user and you get this free access for up to 50 team members.

For people who do not know what Canva is, it’s a free-to-use online graphic design tool. It helps you design attractive posts for your social media and other content. With the Canva Pro you get unlimited access to their premium content, more powerful design and now they also have AI-powered features. 

  • Application: To apply first you need to fill in the application form where you will be asked to upload certificates for your organization. The requirements can vary by country like for Nepal, you need to be registered as a social organization that is approved by Social Welfare Council, have a tax exemption certificate from the Inland Revenue Department, and certificate of profit not distributing entity from a relevant authority if it’s a non-profit company it will be through Office of The Company Registrar (OCR).
  • Timeline: It took 2 days for them to verify the information and get back to us. But I had previously provided a Gmail in the contact info which will get you rejected. You will need a business email where they will send code for final verification. Once that is done you will have access to Canva Pro feature for your non-profit.

Microsoft 365: Eligible non-profits are also privy to Microsoft 365 grants and discounts. I have used this to get free business premium for 10 employees of my organization. But there are a lot of features you can use from this program. For cost comparison, Microsoft 365 business premium feature costs USD 22 per month per user which is now free for your company.

Microsoft 365 is a product family of productivity software such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Presentation etc. The business premium feature provides the their latest features, 1 Tb cloud storage, advance security among many other features.

  • Application: Apart from the documents and contact details (business email would be better) you will also need to issue an authorization letter from a person from your company specifying someone as the authorizing personnel to manage the account and the donations and discounts the organization qualifies for.
  • Timeline: It took about 25 days to complete the whole process because I did not attach the letter required and also some confusion regarding the contact details. But the process is swift and provided you apply with all the requirement information it shouldn’t that long to get access to the grants and discounts.

Research4Life: Not-for-profit institutions from developing countries can apply for journal access through Research4Life. This is part of a unique partnership among UN agencies, universities, and publishers enabling reduction in knowledge gap between the developing and industrialized countries. They have over 200,000 resources made available in the field of biomedical and health, food and agriculture, law and social science, environment among others.

  • Application: To register you need to fill out a form about your organization and they will get back to you with the decision in a matter of days. 
  • Timeline: I got the login access in 8 days and have been using it to get access to papers from different journals free of cost!

Likewise, researchers in developing countries can also publish their papers free of cost or get discounts through Research4Life program effectively removing barriers for publication. I got two papers published through Research4Life program free of cost. You can read about my journey here

Google for nonprofits: My country Nepal is not an eligible country for this, but they do have a number of offers that a non-profit can apply. These include google workspace, ad grants, additional features in YouTube, and google earth and maps. So, first check if your country is listed and get started for the applications.

There are many more offers that non-profit can apply to. I will keep on adding to this list once I discover more offers myself. Also let me know what more features I should apply for! As the resources of non-profit organizations are already stretched thin, we need to make good use of these free resources to keep cost at a minimum while serving greater good.

Anu Rai

I am an aspiring environmental researcher.

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