Here’s a big shout out to all the community-organizing, people-engaging, smile-inducing, neighborhood-improving, relationship-building, change-making rock stars out there. You do this work because you love it, and your community loves you back. And good thing, because your to-do list is probably packed with headaches and thankless jobs that you’ve never actually been trained to do, from managing budgets to making posters to baking treats.
How could any one person be expected to do all the stuff you need to do to make a project happen? Maybe you’re a visionary and have amazing project ideas, but you’re a hot mess when it comes to coordinating and scheduling volunteers. Or maybe you’re great at organizing, but you’re wondering whether to use fuchsia or purple text in comic sans (no. just no.) on your event posters. There are apps and digital tools for everything from scheduling your nail clippings to creating artsy filters for your grocery receipts, so there must be tools to make these things easier. But who has time to find them?
We’re here to make it a little bit easier for you. We spend a lot of time using, testing and researching tools for community projects. We promise this digital toolbox will help you out. Every tool listed here is free (though it may have paid options), easy to use, looks great, and certified useful for community organizing.
Make Great Graphics with Canva
Need to design a poster or a Facebook image? Canva is by far the best tool out there. It has dozens of templates that look beautiful and are sized the right way for everything from social media to print publications. Use stock images or upload your own.
Organize Volunteers with SignUp
Scheduling a big event with a lot of volunteer slots? SignUp is a great way to manage the process. Create individual volunteer slots on one day or more. Add a description, where to meet, and any other info. Share your SignUp, and you’re off and running. Volunteers can choose a slot and add themselves, change their slots, trade and add notes.
Create a Poll with Typeform
There are dozens of survey platforms out there. Nearly all of them cost money, once you go beyond a set number of responses and question types. Some of them offer complicated analysis and question formats. But if you just need a simple option that looks great, works smoothly and stands out, you can’t beat Typeform. It’s easy to setup and easy for users, whether you’re creating a survey or a simple response form.
Share Data with Infogram
Done with your survey? Now you just need to share the results. Please don’t make a Word document with lots of annoying charts that no one can read. Just use Infogram. It will help you make a beautiful, interactive report of your data that you can send out as a link, embed in a website, or even download and print.
Schedule a Meeting with Doodle
Scheduling meetings is yucky. Scheduling them with multiple people, and trying to do it over email or in person is even yuckier. Doodle makes it as painless as possible. Set up a poll with different meeting options, send it around, and choose the best option.
Build an Infographic with Piktochart
Infographics make it sooooo much easier to share and explain complicated concepts, but you don’t need to be a professional designer to make one. Piktochart offers nice templates and tons of stock graphics to help you create a great infographic for your project.
Host a Video Call with ZOOM
Ever joined a webinar or video call that worked perfectly, with everyone managing to get connected on time? It’s about as common as a municipal budget surplus. But ZOOM makes it easier than all the other platforms we’ve seen, and video calls are free (!) for up to 45 minutes.
Handle Document Review with Kauses
PDF documents and reports are everywhere, so there should be tons of tools to share PDF files and gather feedback on them, right? You’d think so, but the only good one we’ve seen comes from our friends over at Urban Interactive Studio. With Kauses, you can upload a PDF, adjust comment settings, and gather and review feedback. Just leave yourself a couple of days lead time, since you’ll need to apply for an account.
Make a Nice Website with Weebly
“Do I need to make a website for my community project?” We hear this question all the time, and the answer is “maybe.” You probably need some kind of web presence — somewhere to post information and share it out with the community. If you can do that on an existing website, great. If there is no existing site, then you probably need to put up a simple, free site to be a home base. If you don’t need a lot of features or a custom URL, then Weebly is great place to start.
What do YOU need help with? Leave a comment and let us know, and we’ll go on the hunt for a great digital tool to help you out.