We recommend Trello – a powerful and free collaboration tool

Need to get your ducks (and team!) in a row? Trello is a free and simple tool making it easier to work with others (and yourself!) 

Take the WTMF for example – an example of collaboration with many moving parts such as ongoing applications, grantee reports – often coming from groups of between 2 and 6 organisations from all over New Zealand; its funders are from different organisations and parts of the country, and there are deadlines to meet and reports written. Just the stuff fun collaborative projects are made of, right? Well it can be fun. Like many non-for-profit organisations, we have no budget for fancies and so rely on a few free and smart tools to make the process easier for all. One of the free tools we use and wanted to share with you is Trello.

If you’ve seen our checklists to prepare and deliver collaborative projects, you’ll know there are many helpful pointers to plan for successful collaboration. If you need to start ordering priorities and allocating responsibilities, Trello is an easy-to-use platform on which you can manage projects down to the task – whether 1 or 100 people are involved in your collaborative initiative.

  • Trello is ‘cloud-based’ – just like a Hotmail or Facebook accounts for instance – so you have no need to install software or worry about changes not ‘syncing’ with other participants
  • Participants signing up for an account can share their project pages (Trello calls these ‘boards’) with others
  • ‘Boards’ can be created for as many personal or professional projects as required
  • You can manage projects by key categories such as people, deadlines or a combination of ways. After viewing a few ‘how to’ videos and using it for a while, you’ll quickly find a way that works for you
  • Within a board, use ‘lists’ as categories i.e. planning, creativity, project culture & momentum, reporting, funding etc (or you may use headings like due today, planning phases, implementation and so in and move tasks between them)
  • Within lists users can create tasks (or ‘cards’ as Trello calls them). A card might be ‘process my application to the Working Together More Fund’ – within the card you can have checklists itemising the steps to complete the application task
  • Add dates or labels to cards to view a calendar snapshot of what’s due when – or filter entire boards by a label that sits across multiple lists
  • Add commentary within cards between those working on that task so users are aware of progress made by others since last accessing the card – it’s an excellent tool for clear communication (and reducing the number of emails!).

Trello’s YouTube channel provides an overview and some ‘how-to’ videos you may wish to share with those involved in your shared projects.