Jumpstart your 2013 Fundraising with 6 Low-Cost/Free Tools for Nonprofits

It’s hardly a surprise that just when people ask for assistance the most, nonprofit organizations experience the most difficulty bringing in donations vital to maintaining, or even increasing, its efforts to support the needs of the community. Overcoming this paradox can be quite the challenge, but there is hope!

Lucky for those working with community organizations, advancing technologies are capable of being cost-effective and of providing alternative, highly efficient ways to increase an organization’s reach to potential donors. Such technologies often exist without a NPOs knowledge, rendering them useless. In an effort to inform you of the best resource out there, FLC has researched low-cost/free tools that can expand your organization’s fundraising efforts without deflating your wallet. Below are 6 great fundraising tools that your organization will want to check out.

  1. Formstack: This site lets nonprofits create online forms which provide an easy, secure method to collect contact information of new donors and/or volunteers. Forms can also be created to process donations on your organization’s website.
  2.  #FundraisingFriday: This hashtag is a twitter campaign that encourages supporters to donate $10 to their favorite nonprofit every week. It’s free, and perfect for getting the word out to potential donors seeking new organizations to support.
  3. GivingLibrary: This site acts as an outlet for nonprofits to present potential donors and/or volunteers with their mission, past accomplishments, and future plans. Be sure to register your organization up and get access to another medium for accessing potential donors.
  4. #GivingTuesday: Similar to #FundraisingFriday, this hashtag is a twitter campaign designed to increase donations during the time of year people are most willing to give: holiday season. To begin on Tuesday, November 23rd, be sure to promote your nonprofit with #GivingTuesday and increase awareness of your cause.
  5. MobileCause: This app is a low-cost mobile service provider which exclusively serves nonprofits. If you’re ready to implement text-to-donate services, MobileCause is the low-cost provider for you.
  6. SupporterWall: This site lets nonprofits construct a “SupporterWall” which donors can choose to purchase different sized squares on which their names will be displayed. This grid is customizable and can be installed on your website. There are two options for payment, both of which are reasonably priced.

Healthy Eating Just Got Easier

Imagine going to the grocery store with peanut butter on your list.  When you get there, you realize there are over 20 different types of peanut butter – smooth, chunky, light, reduced fat, natural, organic, etc.  Then, try to compare the nutrition labels and ingredients.  This is a difficult task!  We know healthy eating is important.  However, too many choices, difficult words, and limited time make such selection frustrating.  Well, it has just gotten a bit simpler – all you need is a smart phone.  Here are some phone apps (most are free) for you and your students that make healthy eating as easy as pie.

FOODUCATE (free – iTunes or Android)

Fooducate is an app that allows you to scan a food item’s UPC barcode – it then displays a grade (A through F) for the nutrient density of that food – the more dense with nutrients, the better it is for you.  The grading takes into account such things as high salt content, high fructose corn syrup, additives, trans fats, and artificial colors and flavors.  Each food item is graded, calories and notes are provided, and healthier food choices are listed as alternatives.

WATER WORKS ($1.99 – iTunes)

The Water Works app tracks how much water you drink in a day, and then charts your progress over time.  The more water you drink, the more water fills the on-screen jug until you reach your goal.  Especially in these scorching summer months, it is important to stay hydrated – this app will help you do just that.


5-A-DAY (free – iTunes)

Similar to the water app, this app records the number of fruits and vegetables you eat each day.  Fun sounds and screen rewards encourage you to eat more produce, a great way to get nutrients and fiber.  The app also tracks and charts your progress for the day, week, and month so you can see your improvement.


LOCAVORE ($2.99 – iTunes)

Seasonal produce is often the most affordable and best tasting.  Plug your state into this app, and it will list the foods that are at their peak freshness.  It also maps the locations of nearby farmer’s markets, so you can buy locally too.


NUTRITION TIPS (free – iTunes and Google Play [Android])

The Nutrition Tips app is just that – over 500 useful tips to help you remember, understand, and learn good nutrition.


RESTAURANT NUTRITION (free – iTunes and Android)

At home, you know exactly what you put into a dish when cooking.  When you go out to eat, however, it is hard to know exactly what you are eating and whether it is as healthy as you might think.  This app provides the calorie, carbs, protein, and fat content for more than 60,000 menu items in over 250 restaurants, helping you find the nutrition fit that works for you.

GOOD FOOD NEAR YOU (free – iTunes)

If you’re hungry and can’t decide where to go for dinner, this app is perfect.  Type in your location, and this app will list healthy options at nearby restaurants – based on fat content or based on the distance from your location.

Now there are no excuses – healthy eating is just a click away.  Enjoy – bon appétit!

Top Stories in Literacy: December 5

New fees drive down adult education enrollment in Florida
Many of Florida’s high school dropouts are giving up the chance to go back to school because they now are required to pay tuition. Enrollment in GED preparation classes has fallen 70 % in Broward County and 61% in Palm Beach County.

Proposal emerges to create adult charter schools
Nudged by a Tallahassee-based non-profit group, two lawmakers are poised to file bills that would allow charter schools and non-profits to offer adult education.

Literacy Coach wins Leadership Grant
Melissa Lime, a member of the board of directors of Learn to Read St. John’s County and instructional reading coach at Pacetti Bay Middle School has received the 2011 Eve Proffitt Emerging Leaders Project Grant from the PDK Educational Foundation.

The Khan Academy: Changing the Face of Education?
One organization that has found a way to improve education through technology is the Khan Academy. By providing an online library of math videos and assessments for students to use, they have created a self-driven, individualized curriculum that motivates students with immediate feedback and positive rewards.

The NEFC Sets Launch Date for the Core 80 Financial Literacy Curriculum
The 2012 version of the NFECs’ Core 80 Financial Literacy Curriculum is launching the second week of January and is designed to provide educators and volunteers engaging lesson plans to improve the financial capability of their students.

Brent Stubbs: Career Pathway to Nowhere- Why technology matters

Recently in Adult Education, the “shot heard round the world” was that the GED test was going the way of the computer. Many held their breath, wringing their hands and pondering how and why it made sense. (Note: Corrections programs have a real legitimate concern as to the logistics of how this is going to work) For decades the test had been paper-based, and we all know that a lot of people don’t know how to use computers or do not type proficiently…

…or so the thought process went.

Recently, my friend pointed out on this blog that more people are on computers than we think. I will set aside my judgment on whether or not everyone is computer savvy for a moment and even grant you that many are not. In fact, this post assumes that too many are computer illiterate. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they don’t know how to use a computer, just like someone who is illiterate can probably still hold a decent conversation. However, the question we should all be asking ourselves is, “What can someone do, today, without computer literacy?” Let’s get a little closer to home:

How good is our literacy program if it does not include digital literacy? If someone learns English but not the ability to navigate the web using that language, what have we given them? How good is our Career Pathways system if we are not empowering every student to gain digital competency that will translate to any career path?

“It’s the Economy, Stupid” -Bill Clinton

I know one thing. Employers (the ones with jobs) are not, on average, behind the times. They understand that technology = speed = efficiency = competitive advantage. Competitive advantage means you survive, thrive, and become a fixture, not a novelty in a community. There was a time that to get work meant you had to have air in your lungs and a pulse. Those days are long gone, especially in the Sunshine State. As we progress deeper into the 21st century, digital competency is the new basic skill. Just like businesses need a competitive advantage that starts with an even playing field, today’s prospective employee needs an even playing field so that their career path is not aborted prematurely.

That means skills: digital skills.

Is this your program?

What’s the Career Pathway’s connection? It’s quite simple. A Career Pathways model–be it via family literacy, GED classes or ESOL at it’s genesis–that leaves out technology is a “pathway to nowhere”.  A pathway to nowhere means a student getting a credential that means nothing. It means a student learning something that does not translate into a feeling of “making it” in life. Why? Because in their case, there is literally a digital divide between what they know and what they can do. Digital literacy (technology) is about closing that gap by giving our students a leg up in the 21st century jobs marketplace. 

Why Change?

What’s at stake is twofold. For one, we are playing catch up with the rest of the world. While we are wringing our hands about computer-based GED tests, somebody is doing this:

Instead of lamenting what we can’t do, we must start preparing for what we will have to do.

Second, it’s about what is best for our students. They come to us, many times, because they want a new chance at life. Because they lack certain basic skills, life is always lived somewhere between understanding and confusion. They come to us to gain those skills, and we ask them to dream again and create a plan for their career path–a path to their success. However, if digital literacy gained through engaging relevant technology is not a part of our process, we do them a great disservice.

We set them up for failure and frustration, again.

I think that answers the “why” question. What do you think?

Kim Gates: What’s new and exciting in the world of online technologies?

The Internet is home to millions & millions of sites: some with educational value and some without it.  Some sites purport to have everything from ways to connect to old friends and colleagues, to ways to find the secret of youth!  How do you know what’s valuable & what’s not?  How do you stay up-to-date with emerging sites, and is ‘newer’ always ‘better?’

While not necessarily “new,” Twitter is a great way to stay connected to reputable organizations like Florida Literacy Coalition, ACE of Florida, FL TechNet, GED Testing Service, and more!  (Not quite sure what Twitter is or what a “tweet” means?  Check out this short Common Craft video explanation!)  While you don’t need to be a member to view various tweats, membership is free & allows you to select who you want to “follow” (which means those organizations’ messages come directly to you & you don’t need to go searching for them).  Twitter is also a great way to connect to your colleagues (both in & out of the state), your current students, and even potential students!  Think of it as allowing you to see & be seen all within 140 characters at a pop!

What would you (or your students) prefer: reading about how to do something or seeing & hearing about how to do it via video?  Khan Academy is amazing!  Their website boasts “With a library of over 2,700 videos covering everything from arithmetic to physics, finance, and history and 238 practice exercises, we’re on a mission to help you learn what you want, when you want, at your own pace.”  My favorite part is the math!  Everything from arithmetic to developmental math to  pre-algebra and more can be found there for free!  (In case you’re wondering, Khan Academy has received donations from The Gates Foundation and won Google’s Project 10100 of ideas to change the world.)

Do you ever wish you could participate in professional development without actually having to go somewhere to do it?  To borrow part of the Florida Virtual School’s motto, what if professional development could be “any time, any place?”  The good news is that it can be!  Florida TechNet’s Moodle site has free one hour modules.  There’s something for everyone: administrators and instructors!  Topics include ABE, GED, ESOL, LD, Learning Technologies, Corrections, Literacy, and more!

While these sites may not be ‘new’ to the Internet, hopefully they are ‘new’ to you!  Explore them and enjoy them!!

English Language Learners and Technology

Technology has significantly aided in the advancement of English language learners. From interfaces and tools to help in the learning process, to resources for teachers, to communication, technology has made it easier for language learners to better integrate into their new country. In today’s world, technology is instrumental in teaching and learning English, and adapting to the demands of the culture.

Translation sites and tools have made it easier for learners to understand words or phrases found on the internet. In Google translate, users can input any text and get a fairly accurate translation for what it means. Although at times it might be off in the meaning, since its assuming context, the definition provided is fairly close to the translation. Several websites also have the option to translate the page. While this doesn’t exactly help with learning, it helps those not familiar with the language to find locations for ESL classes or other places in the case of an emergency.

The internet is also filled with resources for ESL teachers and activities for students. Interactive games help students learn English because it is using a different method of learning. Students can find activities to practice in their spare time and the computer is able to correct things they got wrong (instead of memorizing the wrong thing). Teachers are also able to find lesson plans, brainstorm with other teachers, and download additional resources with the wide assortment of ESL websites. It is one of the best tools teachers can use when trying to find additional curriculum since learning English is a very popular subject. Here are some good websites for teacher/student resources:

FLC ESOL Tutor Help Center

Center for Adult Education Language Acquisition

English Page.com

Thirteen EdOnline

Using technology has become increasingly necessary to advance in economically in the United States. The GED will be computer based in a couple of years, most jobs only seek applicants online or through a computer, and several jobs require basic computer skills. Technology is also becoming the dominant mode of communication. Hundreds of millions of people use social media to find jobs, keep in touch with friends, and stay up to date with current events. If you are working with someone who is new to the country, incorporating digital literacy in your curriculum will help your student on multiple levels. Try different word activities using the computer. Teach your student how they can hear how words sound using a computer. There are many ways you can do this and it is becoming increasingly important that you try.

Apps for Education

Smart phones are becoming increasingly popular. Now that they are becoming more affordable, it is not that uncommon to see people in every economic bracket with one.  The PEW Research Center has completed surveys about the demographics of smart phone users.

I heard about using cell phones as a tool during tutor training at the Adult Literacy League. But after the trainer explained how she came to it, it made complete sense. Her student wanted to practice the new words he was learning, but didn’t want to be embarrassed as a grown man using flash cards.  After many trail and error experiments, they found an application that would work well for both of them.  I decided to compile a list of 4-5 applications for the most popular smart phones.  I suggest that you try out a couple and see what works for your student. The gFlash allows you as the tutor to upload a list of words for your student to use, or you can download a list already made by someone else.   All of the Dictionary.com applications include audio so users can see how the word is spelled and hear how it is pronounced.  Is there anything else you would add?


Flash cards + $0.99 English Voice download- FREE

Dictionary.com (includes pronunciation button) – FREE

Math games- FREE

World Lens (Translates street signs) – FREE

Top 50 iPhone apps for Educators


Spanish-English Dictionary ColorDict Dictionary- FREE

Math Wizard- FREE

gFlash (create your own flashcards)- FREE

Dictionary.com(includes pronunciation button)- FREE


gFlash PRO flashcards (create your own or download someone elses)- $4.99

Math Flash- FREE

Student Notes (good for those studying for the GED)- FREE

Learn to Write- FREE

Dictionary and Thesaurus.com- FREE

Suzanne Ensmann: Technology and Playing games

According to Facebook statistics, there are over 800 million active users on this social network.

The US Census Bureau’s reflection of 312 million residents in America seems to pale in comparison.  If 50% of these Facebook users logon daily (and, yes, those are the actual numbers who do), that number is still higher than every resident living in our country.

How many of those 400 million do you think are in your classrooms?  Oh, I know, your students are a different population.  They don’t have computers (or those skills), right? Do they have a smart phone in their pocket?  Take a poll.  A quick survey in a few of my Student Success classes informed me that 100% of my students had cell phones (AKA computers), 100% of them have laptops, and 100% of them had a Facebook account!

The physical classroom where I am currently teaching does not have computers, but my students do!  Don’t know an answer to a question I pose?  Google it!  Amazingly this engages the students and eliminates that “deer in the headlights” look.  Taking a quiz and not certain if you answered correctly or not?  Immediate feedback returned when they hit that submit button!

One third of my students polled were kinesthetic learners.  They learn through playing games.  So, we play a game to review prior lessons every class on our cell phones.  Think about it.  Do you think students prefer to do classwork or play games while they learn?

The power of words goes a long way in my class.  We clarify if they “have to” come to class or “want to”.  After we break down the cost of their education (tuition, gas, time) and focus on the value, power of positive thinking, and the career pathway goal they are setting out to achieve, their attitude changes.  We’re in our sixth week this semester and I have close to 100% attendance, with the exception of those who’ve experienced the common cold here and there.

Use of technology and affirmations in the classroom are a starting point to foster student persistence, but I can’t say it’s the only ingredient for improved attendance. Since “cell phone” is no longer a dirty word in my class, though, my students will actually use the technology outside of class for their education like they do with every other world activity they partake in.   Communication, communication, communication!  They text me if they’re running late, out ill, or forget what chapter we’re reading.  I remind them of their test on Tuesday, that project that’s due next week, or post a popular motivational video to our Facebook class page.  Literally, I’m placing the reminders in their face where they’re playing.   But, I know your students can’t do these things.

A literacy teacher just boasted to me about the high completion rate she had for her students over the last few months.  Interesting, she has them all listed under her contacts in her cell phone.  Text messaging is a common occurrence (24/7) with her students.  Too much work?   I guess it’s about perception. A full classroom and completions?  I call it fun.  She seems to also.

Not a believer yet?  Read stats from the Deputy Director for Education Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.

If you want to support student success in your classroom and move them into Career Pathway in today’s digital revolution era, think Connect to… Complete to… Careers!  Analyze, create, and plan, but most importantly act on incorporating social media and digital technologies in your classroom today!