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8 low-cost or free Web-based tools for ministry

By Darby Jones

With all the resources available online, it's difficult to know which ones will be most helpful. So we swam the sea of apps and Web-based tools and discovered some fabulous low-cost or free options that we hope will benefit you.

1. Animoto
Animoto lets you combine photos, video clips and music to create videos to upload for presentation or to share on the Web. They also support non-profits and other humanitarian causes with free upgraded access. Plus users have access to HD quality uploads, exports for social sharing, video-style templates, a music library, photo services and plug-ins. You can even edit video from an iPhone or Android.

2. BrainyQuote
This is a great directory of quotes cataloged by topic or famous person. Whether you are experiencing writer's block or looking for content for a presentation, filler, Tweet or Facebook update, this is a useful resource.

3. Clipix
Most of us don't have the time to read everything that interests us as we find it. Clipix lets you bookmark great articles and media you find online. It's well organized like Evernote and visual like Pinterest. It even features a price-drop watch, which is great to use when your church is waiting for an item to go on sale. You can keep your search private or make it public.

4. Flickr Creative Commons
Whether you are looking for illustrations for a blog or for a sermon presentation, Flickr Creative Commons is a great source of free images. They a search tool for finding images that fall under the CC0 license, which basically means they're public domain. Feel free to modify images and use them in any context without attribution.

Other excellent CC0 stock photography sites:

  • Pixabay has a huge collection
  • Freely focuses on churches
  • Unsplah has an amazing curation of photography
  • Pexels is truly inspiring

5. Wufoo
If you are taking online prayer requests, starting an e-newsletter for your church, doing surveys, collecting donations or registering people for an event, a Wufoo form on your site is the way to go. Wufoo writes the script, meaning you will not have to write a single line of code. The intuitive drag-and-drop form builder with templates makes it easy to create a form to use on your site. Since Wufoo is hosted in the cloud, you install nothing. Watch these tutorial videos to learn more. Wufoo is free for one user and three forms. Upgrade by selecting from a choice of paid plans with features that include more forms, additional users, extra reports, entries and more storage.

6. Google Trends
Google explains it this way: "This Google resource brings together the latest industry facts and insights. These have been collected from a number of third-party sources covering a range of topics from macroscopic economic and media trends to how consumer behavior and technology are changing over time." In the search box, enter a sermon or small group topic to find a vast array of statistics about that topic. Use these stats to support all your communication efforts.

7. LastPass
If it's difficult for staff to remember the usernames and passwords for your various online accounts, this tool is for you. It consolidates all of your login information into one manager. The password you create for LastPass will be the last one you'll ever have to remember. LastPass will automatically complete routine online forms so you don't have to type common fields such as name, address and email. Secure and free, it can be used with any operating system. A paid option is available for mobile access.

8. CreateBrief 
CreateBrief is a website that helps make a design brief in just minutes. A design brief or creative brief is a document used during the planning stages of a project, which helps designers and stakeholders understand the project at hand. Here's a simple design brief example. Just fill out a few project summary fields, select your primary colors and you're done. Avoid the confusion and keep all your team members on the same page.