Online Collaboration Tools Help Nonprofit Teams Work Smarter
By JD Lasica

JD Lasica
JD Lassica
As nonprofits get more efficient and leaner in managing a twenty-first century workforce, collaboration tools can help team members in multiple locations communicate smarter and faster with each other and work more closely with partner organizations and volunteers.

Here are five tools worth testing with small teams to see how they can help your organization become more social and collaborative.

Huddle: Free workspaces

Habitat for Humanity, UNICEF and World Vision are a few of the nonprofits using Huddle, an online collaboration workspace that’s free for nonprofits with budgets under $7 million. Coolest features: Huddle’s customizable dashboard makes it easy to add widgets, and its online whiteboards foster effortless integration with LinkedIn, Ning, and Facebook. Collaborative scheduling

Need to figure out when everyone on the team—and your outside partner’s team—is available for a call or meeting? Doodle isn’t bad, but is the best of breed, offering the most intuitive way to schedule meetings and to see what openings work best for everyone. After I get five or six emails proposing a counter-time, I now say, instead.

Picnik: Edit your photos online

Picnik, which lets you edit all your photos online, is great for quick editing, cropping, and enhancing of photos published to the Web. Unlike Photoshop, Picnik is free and browser-based, so you can edit photos quickly from anywhere.

DeskAway: Project management via mobile

DeskAway is a Web-based project collaboration software that provides teams a central location to easily organize, manage, share and track projects. With its mobile component, you’ll know that your work is going on smoothly when you’re in the field or away from your desk. 30-day free trial with a 30% discount to nonprofit organizations on all pricing plans.

Pidgin: Connect across chat applications

Use Pidgin (for PCs) or Adium (for Macs) to connect instantly with staff, volunteers and the rest of your community regardless of which instant messaging application they use. Both are free, open- source, downloadable applications that allow you to connect with almost anyone running AIM, MSN, Jabber, Yahoo, Google Talk, MSN, IRC, Facebook, and other chat networks.

Mindmeister: Brainstorming made easier

Mindmeister is a cool online mind-mapping and collaboration tool that will help with your group projects and presentations. The basic version, for three mind maps (a fancy term for diagrams), is free.

Dropbox: Transfer videos and photos

Need to transfer video files or batches of photos? Email maxes out at about 15 megabytes, which is enough for only ten high-quality photos or so. We do like YouSendIt, which lets you send up to two gigabytes of files to anyone with an email address. But our favorite file-sharing tool is DropboxNAME, which comes with 2GB of space in the cloud that you can use for as long as you like. It works with desktop computers and mobile devices (Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry).

MediaFunnel: Assign roles for your team

MediaFunnel offers an online dashboard that lets you coordinate and manage your social media presence. It supports multiple users on one or more Twitter accounts or Facebook Pages. You can set up user roles: guest, contributor, publisher and administrator, making it ideal for campaigns or specialized programs. It offers a free trial.

WiserEarth: Connecting social activists

Ever since Ning started charging nonprofits, WiserEarth has become our favorite place for forming instant online communities of action, helping the global movement of people and organizations work toward social justice, indigenous rights, and environmental stewardship.

Hootsuite: Share a social media dashboard

Create a social media dashboard using Web-based Hootsuite, Seesmic, or the desktop app TweetDeck. Segment constituents into groups, manage multiple contributors, monitor mentions, spread messages, assign tasks, track results, and cross-post to Facebook, WordPress, and Foursquare.

JD Lasica is the founder of, a social media consultancy. Republished from Social Brite. For the full article, click here .

September 2011