It’s in the DNA of nonprofits to stretch every dollar, and that frugal nature often extends to technology and digital marketing tools.
Fortunately, discounts and special offers abound for nonprofit organizations looking to upgrade their hardware and software. Those perks can make a difference when there’s little room in the budget to add a much-needed computer or kick-start a migration to the cloud. On average, small nonprofits typically spend just over 13 percent of their overall budget on IT, according to a 2017 report from the Nonprofit Technology Network. Large nonprofits, by comparison, spend even less — only 2.8 percent — on IT.
For nonprofits that understand the value of technology but lack the funds to buy their dream tech, consider these options to help narrow the gap.
1. Low-Cost Equipment from TechSoup
An international network that provides technical support to nonprofits, TechSoup also helps connect groups in need with affordable products. That includes refurbished desktop and notebook computers (for as little as $183), monitors, tablets and mobile devices.
To purchase equipment, buyers must register with TechSoup. Approved groups can request any number of products but must also be willing to provide testimonials for a related case study.
2. Microsoft Discounts for Nonprofits
The tech giant offers discounted and free equipment via the Microsoft for Nonprofits initiative. Among the deals: cloud services such as Office 365, Surface hardware and on-premises software. Microsoft hosts tech training programs in select markets to help nonprofits use these tools to their full advantage.
A range of nonprofit groups are eligible to apply, including schools, healthcare organizations and political entities. Those interested can find commonly asked questions and an application link for the Microsoft program on its website.
3. Cloud Storage for Nonprofits
Several years ago, cloud-based file-sharing service Box.com launched Box.org — a portal offering the same free and discounted subscriptions to nonprofits. The cloud storage application can help teams share, edit and securely store digital files across locations and devices.
To be eligible, interested nonprofits must have a declared charitable or philanthropic mission that benefits their target communities. The first 10 licenses are free to nonprofits of any size; additional ones may be purchased at a 50 percent discount.
4. Free Use of Google AdWords
Groups registered with Google for Nonprofits have a hefty sum at their disposal: $10,000 of in-kind services from Google Ad Grants. The service, like Google AdWords, allows participants’ text-based ads to appear in search results targeted by keyword and geography — essential to attracting clicks and donations.
Although more than 35,000 nonprofits use it, recent changes to the platform require a sharper approach to keywords and geotargeting. Google announced in March that a group’s funds would be cut if their ads earn a click-through rate of less than 5 percent over two consecutive months.
5. Cheap Computers with Free Software
Based in Seattle, the green-minded group InterConnection prides itself on getting refurbished and surplus equipment into the hands of nonprofit groups — and keeping it out of landfills — across the country. The organization’s ConnectAll program offers discounted computers, laptops and accessories.
The selection includes products by Apple, Dell, Hewlett Packard and Lenovo. Cleaned and tested to meet quality control standards, each device comes with a one-year warranty. Microsoft Windows and Office are preinstalled on each unit too.