Our top free resources to help you deliver effective communications on a shoestring

Categories: Communications, Grant holder guidance, Guidance, Learning, Small Charities
26 May 2022


Following on from Part 1 of our Communications Toolkit for Small Charities – with our top tips for delivering efficient social media communications on a shoestring – in Part 2 we’ve compiled a summary of our favourite free resources for effective communications specifically for smaller charities. We think they offer quick and simple solutions to everyday challenges.

For photo and image editing

If you don’t want to pay a yearly subscription to a photo and design editing software like Adobe Photoshop or similar, it is possible to achieve similar end results with these two free resources.

  • Snip – the Windows Snipping tool for the initial cut. It should already be installed on Windows pcs and Apple products and you can use it for an initial cut / take a screenshot of something you want to use
  • IrfanView – to tidy images or infographics up if necessary. You need to download this but once it’s installed, you won’t look back.

For infographics and social media

Plan your core content ahead of time and allocate a morning a month, for example, to write and create your posts in readiness for sharing.

Using a free infographics application like Canva (opens in a new tab) makes things easy for the design side of things. Using its in-built design features, you can adapt existing templates into the right size for specific channels. Example uses include:

  • Creating infographics for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter posts
  • Creating Facebook/Twitter event covers, covers, adverts, videos 
  • Creating diagrams to include in reports
  • Designing print products like brochures, invitations, tote bags etc.

There are some design templates you need to pay for on Canva, but for the most part, they are free.

Venngage (opens in a new tab) is also a good alternative for creating infographics requiring statistics or maps for reports.

For assessing how your social media channels are performing

Using inbuilt analytics to see how your posts are performing is quite straight forward and reaps dividends. As we say in in our Top 15 tips for managing social media channels for organisations on a shoestring (pdf, 2MB), if you can find just one hour every month recording the engagements you are having in your social media posts or website, it can help you determine what is working.

At the time of writing, we find that the following five metrics are especially useful to track on Twitter:

  1. Engagement rates – these are likes, retweets, replies
  2. Link click throughs – the number of times users have clicked through to one of your web pages from Twitter – either from organic posts (that is content you’ve posted that has no paid spend behind it) or through paid ads. This can be established on Google Analytics.
  3. Video views – these measure the number of times users have watched the videos you’ve natively uploaded to Twitter
  4. Top tweets (second column on the Analytics – Tweets tab)
  5. Number of impressions (number of times users saw the Tweet on Twitter).

And on Facebook, we always look at these following five metrics:

  1. Volume – reshares, likes, shares, comments
  2. Organic reach – basically, the number of people that can potentially see your post
  3. Followers – including new ones
  4. Most popular post for reach
  5. Impressions.

For assessing how your website is performing

Understanding how your website is performing and engaging visitors when they reach your site is really valuable information, and Google Analytics allows you to track and understand your visitors behaviour.

If you’re not sure if you have Google tracking on your website set up, check in with your web design company who helped create it in the first place. If it was you, you will need to install the tracking code on each page of your website and you’ll be able to find a YouTube tutorial to help you do this in no time.

Like with your social channels, doing a monthly check-in and logging your metrics on Excel or Google Sheets is sufficient to monitor how things are going but you could always go one step further and create an easy-to-read dashboard via Google Data Studio (opens in a new tab) which can be shared with your trustees and partners and requires minimal work once it’s been set up. 

We find the following five metrics particularly good to be aware of on our website:

  1. What diverted the users to the site? For example, are they coming to your site from your social media posts or organic searches?
  2. How many users have visited your site this month?
  3. How many page views coming into your website?
  4. Top performing pages by visits / time spent
  5. Number of downloads.

Useful links

UK Aid Direct Communications Toolkit for Small Charities series