I have just started a nonprofit.  It's a one-person operation.  I am semi-retired as a special needs and elder law attorney.  I am interested in providing low/no cost legal assistance to people in my rural Ohio community who cannot afford an attorney.  

I want to make the most of TechSoup.  I am relatively tech literate and I have run my own business before.  I need to get my basic office set  up.  Email (right now I'm using G Suite for Google for Nonprofits), a web site, etc.. Later I will grow to do marketing and fundraising.

Pointing me in the right direction would be appreciated.


Hello there. So, when you say you have started a nonprofit, but that you are also a one-person operation, it's confusing - a nonprofit requires a board of directors, usually a minimum of three people. You also need to have by-laws. And the names of the board, and the by-laws, have to be filed with the state and the IRS. Have you done that?

As far as tech goes, which is TechSoup's focus, I think it's a must that a new nonprofit:

  • Get a URL (web address/domain name) and a web host. Dotster is a good place to buy a domain name, as is Network Solutions. For a web host, I really like HostGator. Even if you aren't ready with your web site materials yet, you should do those two things. Then just put up a one page "coming soon" with your organization's name, mission statement, and a "coming soon" statement. This is the advice I give to new nonprofits regarding starting their own web site: http://www.coyotebroad.com/webdevo/
  • Set up a Twitter account and a Facebook page (not a Facebook account, where you friend people - a Facebook page is something people "like" in order to follow). Even if you have nothing to share yet, just like the web address, it's a good idea to claim the name you want ASAP, so no one else gets it. 

No need to buy any software at this point, IMO:

  • You don't have volunteers yet, beyond yourself and your board, so you don't need volunteer management software.
  • Since you are just starting out, use a spreadsheet to track your clients and their information. Since you are dealing with legal issues, I wouldn't recommend Google Drive for any client information, so I suggest LibreOffice, which is free. As you begin to track information and your client base grows, you will start to get an idea of what you will need in a more sophisticated CMS (content management system) and that's when the TechSoup catalog is going to be a big help. But that's far down the road yet, IMO.

You will be using video conferencing a lot, at least through next year, as we all work to remain safe during the pandemic. You don't have to buy a Zoom account in order to use it one-on-one with others, or to participate in events by others. If you have never used it, create an account and participate in a free online workshop, just to get familiar with it. TechSoup has online events regularly on Zoom. But with your clients, they may prefer Skype, so be sure you have an account there too and are familiar with it. 

You can recruit volunteers to help you. I admit to a prejudice and think VolunteerMatch is the best tool. Here are my recommendations about volunteer recruitment

And you can post here on the TechSoup community as you like with questions about how to use any of the aforementioned software - or anything else you are using. 

And that, I think, are the very bare bones tech basics a new nonprofit should focus on in its early months. Let's see what others might recommend.