Your business models may differ slightly from those of traditional businesses, but organizations in the nonprofit realm need project management tools just as much as anyone else. The problem? Many nonprofits can’t cough up the cash for a monthly subscription to an app in a field that is already relatively expensive.
Fortunately, there are several ways around this issue!Â Several project management software programs offer free or reduced rates to nonprofits. That means that you can stop mucking around with whiteboards and Post-Its and go back to teaching underserved kids. Or researching bio-degradable plastics. Or whatever other noble mission you have set your minds on.
Typically,Â articles about project and task management apps for nonprofits focus on apps with free versions, ignoring the fact that many top project management developers offer their products at a reduced price to qualifying organizations. For that reason, I have chosen to ignore free apps in this post and focus on those offering discounts.
Here, in no particular order, are Merchant Mavericks’ top five project management apps for nonprofits:
RedboothÂ (read our review) is one of Merchant Maverick’s favorite project management apps. In fact, it’s the solution we use to manage tasks for our remote team of writers.
The slick UI, handy features (including time tracking and reporting), and overall ease of use all combine to make a powerful tool that can be used in a variety of ways.
Redbooth does offer a free version that works for simple task management. If that is all you need, you need read no further; follow the link above and give it a try. If you are looking for more advanced features, like the time tracking and reporting I mentioned, you will need to pay a bit more.Â Pricing for Redbooth is figured per-user, meaning that you pay less if you have fewer users. Though I would not call Redbooth “expensive,” the price can add up if you have more than 10 or 20 users. Fortunately, Redbooth offers a 25% discount for nonprofits, providing you can show them yourÂ IRS 501c3 status letter.
Read our full Redbooth review
Visit the Redbooth website
When I think about rock-solid project management apps, Teamwork Projects (read our review) is one of the first that comes to mind.
Teamwork Projects is easy to recommend for a wide swath of reasons: powerful features, excellent integrations, and exceptional ease of use. Even better, there is a free version available! While this stripped-down version excludes many of Teamwork Projects’ more advanced features, it does fulfill small-scale task management needs for teams of 5 or less. If your team is larger than five, or if you would benefit from increased task boards, project portfolios, and reporting features, you may want to take a closer look at the paid versions. For most nonprofits, I think the relatively affordable “Pro” plan will suffice; most features from the Enterprise plan are geared toward large businesses rather than smaller, cash-strapped teams.
And speaking of operating on a budget, Teamwork Projects does offer a discount for nonprofits, though you will need to contact the company directly ([email protected]) to find out exactly what kind of deal is available to you.
Read our full Teamwork review
Visit the Teamwork website
Smartsheet (read ourÂ review) offers a bit more hardcore project management than the previous entries on this list.
Where Redbooth, Teamwork Projects, and some of the other apps I will discuss below make concessions in feature-depth in favor of usability, Smartsheets goes another way. This is a spreadsheet on steroids, and the developers don’t much try and hide that fact. In addition to standard spreadsheet features, Smartsheet also offers Gantt charts, automation, limited communication tools, resource management, and more.
While the interface is far from what I would call inspiring, it manages to keep from being quite as bland as Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. If your team has spreadsheet experience but wants to supercharge functionality, Smartsheet might be a good choice for you. Unfortunately, there is no free version of Smartsheet at this time, but they do offer reduced rates to qualifying organizations, including nonprofits. The discount amounts to about two months off the yearly plan prices whether you choose the individual, team, or business subscription options.
Read our full Smartsheet review
Visit the Smartsheet website
One of many products that attemptÂ to combine user-friendliness with advanced project management features, Asana (read our review) successfully creates a social-media-like feel while still retaining such capabilities as reporting, task dependencies, and more.
I can’t call it full on, grown-up-pants project management, given its lack of time tracking and Gantt charts, but Asana still provides plenty of bang-for-buck. There is a free version which is limited in both how many people can use it and in what features are available. This app is definitely worth actually paying for, and though the initial cost is relatively low by project management standards, Asana developers have indicated they are willing to cut deals with students groups and nonprofits. To find out exactly what kind of deal you can get,Â though, you will have to contact their sales team.
Read our full Asana review
Visit the Asana website
Basecamp (read our review) is one of the project management perennials. Everywhere you look in the project management world, you find other companies desperately claiming to be “better than Basecamp!” The fact that so many project management startups compare themselves with this app should speak to its quality all on its own, but Basecamp can also boast over two million signups for their services.
This has always been one of my favorite project management platforms because of its simple interface, excellent communication tools, and automated check-ins. The features I just mentioned make Basecamp one of the best options in the business for remote teams; the app does so much of the work for you, keeping the whole group on the same page.
Happily, Basecamp offers 10% off for qualifying nonprofits with aÂ 501(c)(3) form.
Read our full Basecamp review
Visit the Basecamp website
In the end, the best project management app for your nonprofit is going to depend on, well,Â your nonprofit. The actual work you are doing is the biggest part of what will determine your needs. Got a lot of data to share and analyze? Smartsheet might be the best option for you. Is your team working long distance, possibly on more than one continent? Basecamp and Redbooth will probably be the options you should consider most. Need a solid project and task managing app? Take a closer look at Teamwork projects or Asana.
I recommend checking out the free trials on offer from each of these companies to see which makes the most sense for your organization. From there, rest in the knowledge that each of these apps will be available to your nonprofit at a discounted rate, allowing you to manage your work without breaking your cash-strapped budget.
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