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Evaluating nonprofit tools

Finding the right tools
4 min read
Last update: Jan 20, 2024

In this guide, we explain how you can find the right tools for your nonprofit or activist movement. We provide you with some general evaluation criteria that you can use to determine if a tool fits your needs.

Evaluation criteria


The first thing to consider when selecting any tool for your organization is the cost. Many tools offer a sliding scale of pricing, providing lower-cost options for smaller nonprofits, or nonprofits with limited budgets. Different consideration aspects involve the existence of a freemium version, a nonprofit discount, or the cost-effectiveness of a premium version based on the features it provides.

Integrations, API, and Webhooks

When choosing a tool, you must determine whether it can seamlessly integrate with the other tools your organization is using. Check the tool's capability to integrate with your CRM, your email system, or your website through an API or webhooks. Tools that can integrate will often save you time and keep your work more organized.


Privacy is fundamental when dealing with any tool, especially for nonprofits or activist movements dealing with potentially sensitive information. Here are some additional privacy considerations for these evaluation criteria:

Server location

The location of a digital tool's server might have legal and privacy implications, primarily depending on whether you operate in Europe, where General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) applies. If a tool's server location does not comply with your organization's legal requirements for data protection and privacy, it could result in severe penalties. Hence, ensure the tool provider can guarantee data privacy compliance.

Data Encryption

Many products like to brag about the fact that they use encryption. Do not be fooled by marketing nonsense. In-transit and at-rest encryption should be available in every website and app you use. That's not something to brag about, that's the bare minimum. End-to-end encryption is special, and something to brag about:

  1. In-Transit Encryption: This type of encryption secures data while itโ€™s moving from one place to another, such as from your computer to a website. You can think of it like a secure postal service. Instead of sending a postcard that anyone can read, you're sending a locked box, and only the receiver has the key to open it.

  2. At-Rest Encryption: This kind of encryption ensures that your data is secure when it's stored, such as on your computer's hard drive or a server. In the previous analogy, it's like having a secure safe at home where you keep all your important documents.

  3. End-to-End Encryption: End-to-end encryption means that your data is encrypted all the time, making it impossible for even the provider of the app to read your messages. For example, WhatsApp and Signal use end-to-end encryption. Usually, only apps have end-to-end encryption. Websites do not, with a few exceptions such as ProtonMail.

Privacy Policy

Always read the privacy policy of the tool. It should outline what data the tool collects, how it is used, and with whom it is shared. We understand that you do not always read privacy policies if you are choosing a tool for private use (they are boring). But you must read the privacy policy if you are going to store other people's data, especially if that data is about activists.


Ensure the tool offers robust security measures. This can be especially important if you are handling sensitive data. Look for features like two-factor authentication or passkeys to protect your organization from breaches and keep your data secure.

Easy to use

Check whether the tool is user-friendly and easy to navigate. If a tool isn't intuitive, it may not be suitable for your organization, especially if other team members struggle to use it effectively.

Support & documentation

Excellent customer support can be a lifesaver in emergencies. Check if the tool provider offers 24/7 support, and what kind of assistance they provide (eg. phone, email, live chat).

Consider if the tool provider offers training or educational resources to help you maximize the tool's potential.

Collaborative development

Public roadmap

A public roadmap refers to the planned or anticipated development timeline provided by a tool developer. It can give activists a clear understanding of what to expect from the tool in future updates. If a tool doesn't currently have a feature that you need, but itโ€™s on their roadmap, you might choose to start using that tool and grow with it. This can be a forward-thinking way for activists to choose a tool that will evolve with them and their needs.

Feature requests

Many software and tool providers listen to their user base for new ideas and improvements via feature requests. This means that users, including activists, can suggest new features or improvements to existing ones, and the most popular ideas will be implemented. This can be highly beneficial for activists as they can tailor the development of their chosen tool to meet their specific needs, or the needs of their community.

Open source

Consider whether the tool is open source. Open source tools tend to promote collaboration, can be more flexible, and are often cheaper than their proprietary counterparts. However, they may require more technological know-how to manage and maintain. If your organization values transparency and freedom to customize, an open-source tool could be a great fit.

Ethical considerations

If your organization is strongly committed to certain principles (e.g., sustainability, social justice), you might want to consider if the tool aligns with these values.


The tool should be accessible to people with different abilities. Check if it complies with accessibility standards.


If your team works remotely or on-the-go, a tool that works seamlessly on mobile devices can be very beneficial.


With the overwhelming array of tools available, finding the right match for your nonprofit or activist movement can seem daunting. However, with careful consideration of pricing, integration options, server location, whether it's open-source, and security measures, you're well on your way to finding the perfect tool! From facilitating organization to boosting productivity, the right tool will serve as a means to amplify your efforts and further your cause.

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