Top 5 Tech Tools for Community Development – Online and ‘Off-The-Grid’ Tools.
Most Not-for-Profit (NFP’s) sector’s that I’ve worked in are largely under-resourced in pretty much everything. The majority of their staff consist of people who are either full-time, part-time, volunteers or a mix in-between. So keeping that in mind then free tools, or something that is affordable, is really the best, and sometimes the only option. This list is about those free tools.
Many of these tools crossover and have similar features. For example; Skype has a messaging feature and so does Viber and Google Hangouts. These 3 apps also have video calling. It’s all about knowing that there are options, and seeing which tool can be the most widely-used or be the best fit for your organization and community.
1) Online Engagement:
Facebook – I’ve seen this used effectively to build not only communities online of like-minded people, but also for towns. For example; Gigatown Porirua in the Wellington region of New Zealand. Through the 2013 Chorus Gigatown competition, Porirua showed New Zealand just how committed they were to a digital future. Since then, the Facebook page is still very active and ‘alive’.
2) Online Meetings/Messaging (Hui-Fono):
People who think of an online tool to video chat will often respond when asked for one with Skype – a video conferencing app. If you’re looking for more than 2 people to chat to, or you’re hosting an online forum/meeting, consider trying these instead – zoom.us or join.me. They were built with video and web conferencing in mind. If you live in an area with unreliable internet connection, do not try Google Hangouts. Google Hangouts needs a really decent connection otherwise it’s total chaos. I’m not saying that these other networks don’t have similar problems, but for video conferencing they’re deemed more stable.
Google Hangouts and Viber are brilliant for those who are trying to text or send pictures/videos, and for those who don’t have cellphone reception in their area.
3) Email, Cloud storage, Collaboration tools:
For these set of tools, the main and most commonly known software is Google Apps. There are Google Apps for Work, Google Apps for Education and there is also Google Apps (for all). The Google Apps all has the basic features, but the storage differs depending on which option you choose. If you choose the entire free option, there are 15Gb of storage available on Google Drive. For storage, a lot of people talk about Dropbox, but they only provide 2Gb of free storage.
To sign up for these tools you can either have a free gmail account or your organization can purchase either the Google Apps for Work or Google Apps for Education.
For Collaboration and project management, it might mean a checklist or something similar that can be shared with your team. “Trello is a free, flexible and visual way to organise anything with anyone”.
4) Photos & Video tools
Photos and storage is often overlooked, yet photos show people what your organization is about, what it does, what it achieves, and it’s also great evidence for your funders when needed! For your photos – Google Photos is a brilliant solution. It provides auto back-up, storage solution, and a great range of editing tools. These include options such as making collages, animation, storyboard and movies.
5) Note taking on the run – aka Digital Filing Cabinet
Are you a super organised person?
Do you love the thought of writing things down everywhere – notebooks, phone memo pad, word documents, and emails?
Do you need to streamline your organising into something a little bit more digitally portable and manageable?
Here are a couple of answers for those questions: Evernote or OneNote.
Evernote’s icon is the elephant, and as we all know, elephants never forget! That’s exactly the same as Evernote, it will never forget, lose or delete (unless you tell it to). Evernote is a great digital jotting pad for ideas. It records speeches, checklists and lots more.
OneNote is part of the Microsoft suite and is very similar to Evernote.
Both of these apps keep all of your notes, school work and homework together. They capture your thoughts, ideas, to-do checklists and even record audio. You can use it anywhere. The app/website is accesible on any computer, tablet or mobile phone. Both apps have a free edition.
There are many online tools that could be added to this list e.g accounting sites and invoicing systems. If you would like to add to this list, or have any questions, please leave a comment below.
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