Online Tools Nonprofits Can Use to Create Social Change
Use technology to create change in the world, without fundraising.
JUNE, 2020 UPDATE: Four years since the publication of this post, the need for social activism and advocacy has only increased. Nonprofits, like all good citizens, must rise to the challenge and embrace the digital tools of social change to make this world a better place for all.
We’ve updated the list below as some of the tools we previously featured were no longer being supported, and others have come to the forefront.
We also recently published a new article about Nonprofit Online Tools and Strategies for Effecting Change, detailing more strategies, tools and platforms.
Wherever you and your organization might fall on the American political spectrum, one thing is certain: the 2016 election was a wake-up call.
In the aftermath of the election, a lot of nonprofits are wondering if their government funding and support will be cut, or worse, if their programs will be outlawed entirely. Others are already seeing a drop off in donations, as people focus on hot-button issues and steer their donations to select high-profile organizations.
Where does that leave the average nonprofit trying to make a positive change in the world? It may leave them fighting for attention and their very existence. The good news is, technology offers ways to reach more people and affect long-term change inline with nearly every mission and vision.
How Can Your Organization Foster Civic Change?
Whether you’re a 100-year-old, well-funded organization, or an ambitious boot-strapped social upstart, there are free online tools that can help you affect change in the world. We searched the web and summarized the top tools and platforms for organizing live events (from brainstorms to protests), finding people who are passionate about your cause and getting them to take action, petitioning elected officials on every level, and inspiring the next generation of change makers.
Every mission-amplifying action you take and promote to your audience should further endear them to your organization, and help connect you with new like-hearted supporters.
15 Digital Tools to Create Social Change
(In the U.S. and around the world)
ACLU Mobile Justice apps
State-specific apps designed to document and hold police accountable for their actions. Record, report, witness, and know your rights.
Social network connecting activists from around the world with other individuals, organizations, and responsible businesses making an impact. Optimize your petition, drive signatures, and help get media attention with the help of Care2’s campaign team.
Provides people with the tools to discover, support, and organize campaigns, fundraisers, and petitions around issues that impact their community. With a reported 1 billion actions taken in 156 countries, Causes is one of the largest online campaigning platforms.
Petition website hosting sponsored campaigns for organizations. Start campaigns, mobilize supporters, and work with decision makers to drive solutions.
Global network of social entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, policy makers and activists creating campaigns for social change. Set up social innovation challenges, take courses with a global community of social entrepreneurs, and join innovator bootcamps to build core leadership skills, strengthen storytelling abilities, and increase the scale of your overall impact.
Receive alerts for verified 911 information and the broadcasts of other citizens, and contribute your own alerts and videos. Know what’s happening as it’s happening, from fires and robberies to missing pets and natural disasters.
DIY campaigns motivating young people to take action for causes that are important to them. Visitors can choose a cause and how much time they have to dedicate, then get options of actions they can take. Nonprofits can partner with DoSomething to create their own campaigns and activities. See Partnerships to learn more.
Organize groups and events for your cause and find members and groups/organizations with a common interest. Search meetups by topic and locate a group in your area to arrange a place and time to meet.
Provides individuals and organizations with tools to start and win their own grassroots campaigns. Connect with your elected officials and become campaign leaders for your cause. Known for its affiliations with left-leaning causes.
Allows people all over the world to run citizen-empowering websites that benefit the civic and community aspects of people’s lives. Run your own Freedom of Information website and get access to tools that improve your community.
Gathers together nonprofits, activists, tech leaders and funders interested in using technology for social change. Join technology groups near you or start your own, learn from and share your own expertise with other nonprofits, and develop lasting relationships.
Send online petition emails to Congress and rally supporters for your cause. Can select whether to send to the President, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or all three.
Find elected officials—from President to Congress, to state and local officials. Links to searches for officials at every level.
Not as quick and simple as Who is My Representative, but able to find a lot more than just congressional information.
We the People
Create a petition and gather signatures for the White House to take action on. Share your petition with others, build a community for the change you want to make.
Note: Not affiliated with wethepeople.org
Who is My Representative
Find your Senators and Representative quickly, get their contact info, official website and more in seconds. Bare-bone site lets you search by zip code or state.
Next Steps for Your Organization
Steps You Can Take Right Now to Get Started and Increase Your Impact
Some of the above tools can be implemented in a matter of minutes, others may take longer to set in motion. At the risk of stating the obvious, the most important next step is to take action as soon as possible, while keeping it organic to your organization and relationship with your audience.