Find the best Project Management Software for Nonprofits
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How many users do you have?
For any nonprofit organization, time and money are extremely valuable resources, and they are often scarce. As a project manager, you must ensure that the funds allocated to a project are used efficiently and that each member of your team stays updated on the progress. However, working with a mixed pool of full- and part-time employees and volunteers can make this a challenge.
These challenges can be addressed by project management software. This type of software allows you to organize information for each project, track its underlying tasks, and monitor the time and funds spent on it. It also helps streamline workflows and makes it easier for your team members to share information and documents.
We've prepared this guide to help you find the right project management software for your nonprofit organization. Here's what we'll cover:
What is project management software for nonprofits?
Project management software for nonprofits is a tool that teams can use to track project progress, collaborate on tasks, and manage resources and costs.
Common features of project management software for nonprofits
Project management solutions can offer basic (e.g., time tracking and task management), mid-level (e.g., reporting, project planning, document management), or advanced (e.g., resource management, portfolio management, risk management) capabilities.
The typical features of a project management solution are:
Define scope, timeline, and budget for projects, and assign projects to team members. Also, break a project down into smaller tasks and set short-term goals.
Create tasks; add descriptions; set timelines, priority, and level of effort; and assign them to users. Team members can update task status and/or details and leave comments. Some solutions also include features for converting emails to tasks, setting dependencies, and creating task checklists.
Track time spent by each team member on each task, and collect the data in a single sheet or repository.
Work together over shared tasks, projects, calendars, and dashboards. Stay updated on user activities, and tag peers on items. Also, allow sharing of files, chatting, and inviting guests to participate.
Track progress made on a project, and view active and completed tasks. Also, track milestones and stay on top of what's in the pipeline.
Understand the status of projects with a quick Gantt chart view or dive deeper with detailed reports. Also, track team performance, and compare estimated time to actual time spent and/or estimated spend to actual cost.
Allocate staff and funding to projects and monitor their usage. Also, prioritize and redistribute resources based on the requirement.
Create self-service portals for team members to access project information and perform related tasks.
Scheduling and calendar
Schedule tasks and activities for team members and allow them to update timelines. Visualize this information on a shared calendar so team members can view each other's schedules and timelines.
Control access to project details so team members can view projects (and information) pertinent to them. Some solutions also allow making hidden projects for sensitive work.
Add files to projects and tasks as attachments, or store them in a central location and share them with relevant team members.
What Type of Buyer Are You?
Nonprofit organizations of different sizes have different requirements from a project management tool. For instance, not all will need advanced features to handle multiple projects simultaneously. It's important to understand the needs of your nonprofit before choosing a solution.
In general, nonprofits that need project management software fall into one of the following categories:
Annual budgets of up to $1 million
Small team of employees and volunteers
May not have a dedicated IT budget or personnel
For such buyers, we recommend exploring free project management solutions as well as free task management solutions. If these tools don't meet your needs, then explore cloud-based project management solutions that are priced on a per user/per month basis
Small and midsize nonprofits:
Annual budget of $2 to $10 million.
A few fixed employees as well as some part-time employees and volunteers, working on one or more projects at a time.
One or more locations.
May have a dedicated IT person and budget earmarked for IT needs.
For such buyers, we recommend basic to mid-ranged project management solutions. Choose one that is cloud-based and ask if the vendor lets you add volunteers for free.
Annual budget of $10 million or more.
Large team of full- and part-time employees and volunteers.
Multiple projects running in multiple locations at the same time
Dedicated IT personnel and earmarked budget for IT needs.
For such buyers, we recommend advanced project management solutions. Both cloud-based and on-premise solutions can work for you.
Benefits of project management software for nonprofits
Project management software helps nonprofits create plans for projects, streamline tasks, and track progress, improving efficiency and effectiveness. Its key benefits are as follows:
Efficiency in planning resources: Have clear visibility into the funds and staff allocated to each project. Use available resources efficiently, and plan ahead for any shortage of staff or funds.
Improved communication: Break virtual departmental borders and bring everyone onto the same page. The person-in-charge of fundraising, for example, can see what the marketing team has planned for the next month, and plan their fundraising activities accordingly.
Systematized workflow: Streamline workflow and create step-wise processes for completing tasks. For example, once your content team has created the content for a newsletter, designers can be automatically notified, and the next steps can begin.
Reduced effort on repetitive tasks: Create process or task templates for repetitive tasks such as sending newsletters and reminders for fundraisers or updating social media posts.
Key considerations when buying project management software for nonprofits
With so many solutions on the market, it can be confusing to figure out what your nonprofit needs in a project management solution. To help you find the right solution, we've listed some key considerations you should keep in mind:
Assess your project management requirements: Before you select a vendor, ask yourself if you're looking for a project management tool or simply a tool to track your to-do's. Check out our article on the difference between to-do list, task management, and project management software to understand all three solutions better.
Use a features checklist: To avoid over- or under-purchasing, create a checklist of features and evaluate solutions basis that. Our project management feature checklist can help you with this process.
Evaluate pricing plans: Choose a pricing plan that fits your needs; don't buy an advanced tool simply because you can afford it.
Check for nonprofit discounts or donation: Some software vendors offer standing discounts or donations to nonprofits. Read our article on how to get nonprofit software discounts, and see if you can get such a discount.
To further understand the features and benefits of project management software for nonprofits, call our advisors at (844) 852-3639 for free, no-obligation help. They'll help you narrow down your options by listening to your requirements and recommending the best-suited solutions for your business.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.