There are lots of awesome free tools on the Internet.  And since I feel like I’m always recommending that people use free tools whenever possible, I thought I would lay out the case for paying money for certain tools.  In my opinion, you should pay for an online tool whenever:
  1. The tool you need is unique and you have no other options;
  2. You’re also buying the resources and expertise of the company supplying the software.
If you feel the same way that I do about this, you can do a lot with free software, and then you can save your money for the tools that really make a difference.  Just yesterday I saw this blog post about how Google will provide free email hosting to institutions with 50 or fewer employees.  (That means you can have a gmail interface, but it could come from  That’s a cool free tool.

Will Marlow co-founded AlumniFidelity to help his clients reposition their fundraising to benefit from Web 2.0 technology and marketing techniques. He’s working with clients such as UVA, the College of William & Mary, the University of Oklahoma, Bowling Green State University, Randolph Macon College, and he loves nothing better than a thorny marketing challenge.  Read more about Will Marlow here, or email him at