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People expect nonprofit organizations to operate on the same technological standards as corporate companies. But, your nonprofit doesn’t have to use a litany of expensive apps—there are lots of great free open source tools to look into!

Open source software is the perfect way for a not-for-profit to save money while still having a modern online presence.

What is Open Source Software?

“Open source” means that it’s something anyone can tweak and customize because its design and code is open to the public. These types of software are usually maintained by volunteers or a parent company that dedicates people to working on the free software.

On the other hand, closed source software, or “proprietary” software, means that the code can only be managed by the company who created it.

Below are the best open source software for video calling, customer relationship management (CRM), fundraising, and content management (also known as a website platform).

Best Free Video Calling Software: Jitsi 

Zoom is great, but there are limitations to the free software.

Jitsi is a fantastic free alternative, with features comparable to Zoom.

Some of its features include:

  • Unmixed audio and video
  • Better quality and less lag
  • Advanced video features like simulcast and more
  • Access via computer or telephone
  • A community forum for support

You can start a free call without an account at Jitsi Meet.

You can also have complete control over the software and the experience by installing it on your own server.

Best Free Open Source CRM: CiviCRM

CiviCRM is used by more than 11,000 nonprofits. It was built specifically for nonprofits so you can grow your constituency, organize them, and engage with them.

It has useful features like:

  • Donation management
  • Fundraising
  • Event management
  • And usual CRM tools

Also, because it’s open source, it’s highly customizable and you can expand upon it yourself or with pre-built extensions.

CiviCRM offers full integrations with major content management systems (think WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Backdrop). You can also install it separately on your server.

On top of that, CiviCRM is also extremely secure because it allows you to own your own data.

Best Fundraising Software: CiviCRM

Yup, it's so good we're listing it twice! (No, this post isn’t sponsored by CiviCRM—we’re just very enthusiastic about this solution!)

CiviCRM has all the features you need to track your constituents and raise funds, which makes it easier for you because you can manage it all in one place.

According to their website, CiviCRM users have processed more than 116 million donations!

CiviCRM offers so many powerful fundraising components: campaign tracking, gift management so you can process and track donations, sending gift acknowledgements, and reporting on all of your fundraising data. For your accountant—the software also offers an accounting integration that will allow you to export your gift data specifically for accounting purposes.

Best Free Website Platform / CMS: Joomla

While you may think of WordPress first in terms of free, open source website platforms, Joomla is the underdog of the top three open source CMSs (the other one being Drupal). Overall, Joomla is a better fit for nonprofits. It’s what Lucid Fox uses for all our projects.

WordPress is a good fit for blogs and small sites. After all, it started as a blogging platform. You can extend it past that with plugins, but you tend to need a lot of them to get all the functionality that you need for a robust site. That tends lead to other issues, like security and performance problems, amongst others.

Drupal is the opposite of WordPress. With Drupal, you need a team of developers to build custom modules to add any functionality to your site. The experience is hardly out-of-the-box. In fact, it's often used to build out more complex web applications, not just sites. Because of this, it's extremely powerful and endlessly customizable, but can take a lot of work (and expense) to build and maintain.

Joomla fits in nicely between these two extremes. Joomla’s purpose? It was built for building websites, and contains most (if not all) of the functionality you need to build a robust and powerful site right away. It’s a perfect solution for a custom website design.

If those features aren't enough, there's also a directory of extensions available to add functionality to the site, like built-in CRMs, support for e-commerce, and even donation management systems.

Build your nonprofit website on Joomla and you will have a fast, reliable experience for your constituents and volunteers—all while being customizable.

With these open source software options, you can have powerful and customizable solutions that won’t cost your organization anything. Just remember that by using open source tools, you will need to make sure the software stays up to date in order to keep your site secure.

If you want to integrate any or all of these open source software to your site and also have it maintained regularly, contact us today to schedule a call.

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