Top Free or Low-Cost Data Tools for Nonprofits

There are a lot of choices when it comes to data tools, but which one is the best for your organization? Not too long ago, if you wanted to analyze data and present data visually, your best bet was to fire up Excel and PowerPoint and get to work. These days, there are plenty of other options available, from online tools to specialized software packages. Here are some of the top free data tools that can help you manage and analyze your data. 

Tools for Data Analysis

Data analysis is a process of inspecting, cleansing, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of discovering useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision-making. Data analysis has many benefits, including providing insights into trends and patterns, identifying relationships between variables, and testing hypotheses and it is considered a critical skill in today’s world.


Microsoft Excel

Cost: Free 

Skill Level: Beginner

Microsoft Excel, a tool many are familiar with, is a powerful spreadsheet application that can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Its flexibility and versatility make it an excellent tool for both personal and professional use. Whether you need to keep track of finances, create complex charts and graphs, or simply want to organize your data in a more efficient way, Excel is up to the task. With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Excel is one of the most popular applications on the market today.



Cost: Free

Skill Level: Intermediate

Alteryx is a powerful data analysis and business intelligence tool that enables users to cleanse, blend, and analyze data from multiple sources with ease. The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to use, even for those who are not familiar with statistical analysis or programming. 

Alteryx can be used for a variety of purposes, such as marketing campaign analysis, customer segmentation, sales trend analysis, and much more. The application is also highly scalable, so it can be used by organizations of all sizes. Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, Alteryx can help you make better decisions and improve your bottom line.



Cost: Free 

Skill Level: Advanced

R is a programming language and software environment for statistical computing and graphics. It is one of the most popular languages for data science and machine learning. R is a vector-based language, meaning that data are represented as vectors of numbers. This makes it efficient for performing mathematical operations on large datasets. R also has a rich set of libraries for statistical analysis, machine learning, and graphical output. As a result, it is widely used by statisticians, data scientists, and researchers in many fields.

RStudio is an integrated development environment (IDE) for R. There are several reasons why you might want to use RStudio. First, it can make working with R much easier. The syntax highlighting editor can help you spot mistakes in your code, and the built-in debugger can help you find and fix errors. Second, RStudio provides powerful tools for managing your workspace. You can easily install new packages, create projects to organize your work, and set up version control to track changes to your code. Third, RStudio makes it easy to share your work with others. You can export your code or plots as HTML or PDF documents, or you can host your code on GitHub or other online repositories. Whether you’re just getting started with R or you’re a seasoned user, no matter what your level of expertise, there is an R package that can help you with your work and using RStudio can help you get more out of the language.


Tools for Data Visualization

Data visualization is the process of conveying information through graphical means, usually in the form of charts or diagrams. When done effectively, data visualization can help viewers understand complex data sets more quickly and easily. 


Microsoft PowerPoint

Cost: Free [Microsoft for Nonprofits link]

Skill Level: Beginner

Microsoft PowerPoint, another well-known tool, is commonly used in business and academia to create slideshows and multimedia presentations. PowerPoint can be used to create a variety of different types of presentations, allowing users to insert and format charts, add images and videos, and create custom animations. The software is easy to use and features a wide range of built-in templates and designs that make creating professional-looking presentations quick and easy. PowerPoint is also widely compatible with other software applications, making it simple to share presentations with colleagues and clients. Ultimately, PowerPoint is a powerful tool that can be used to create high-quality presentations for a variety of audiences.



Cost: Free 

Skill Level: Intermediate 

Tableau is a data visualization application that allows users to quickly and easily create interactive charts, graphs, and maps. Tableau can be used to visualize any kind of data, from financial data to geographic data. Tableau is a particularly powerful tool for visualizing large datasets. Tableau can be used to find trends and patterns in data that would be difficult to see using other methods. Tableau is also easy to use, even for users with no previous experience with data visualization. Tableau is a powerful tool that can be used by organizations of all sizes to make better decisions.



Cost: Free

Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced

PowerBI is a business intelligence tool that helps organizations make informed decisions by turning data into actionable insights. It does this by connecting to various data sources, such as databases and spreadsheets, and extracting the necessary information. Once the data is collected, Power BI transforms it into easy-to-understand visualizations, such as charts and graphs. This makes it easier for decision-makers to see patterns and trends, and to identify areas that need further investigation. Power BI also includes features that allow users to collaborate on projects, share insights, and receive real-time updates. As a result, it is a powerful tool that can help organizations increase their efficiency and improve their decision-making process.



So what’s the best tool to use to analyze & visualize data? It depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re looking for something quick and easy, Excel and PowerPoint may still be the best bet; they’re still great tools that can deliver powerful results. But if you need more flexibility, complexity, or want to create something truly unique, you may want to explore some of the other options out there such as Alteryx, R, Tableau, or PowerBI. 

Whatever route you choose, remember that data analysis and visualization is all about communication. The goal is to present information in a way that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. So take some time to experiment and find the approach that works best for you. 


If you need assistance with identifying the best tool for your and your organization, contact us