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Tools and Resources for Building Communities

This article is about the tactics of “how-to.” Read about the strategy and the “why” in “high-frequency tribes.” 

The list focuses on “friendly apps” – and not so much on privacy. It does stay away from Facebook/Meta apps, and suggests alternatives to Google apps where possible.

  • The easiest way to connect and communicate with a group of people is to use Telegram Channels and Groups. Channels are best for broadcasts, and announcements and groups allow members to chat among themselves. You can also use Discord, but the name and the gaming theme tend to be a put-off for non-gamers and people who want to stay clear of “discord” :). 
  • For collaborative writing, use Google Docs or the Zoho alternative.
  • To create a public library of resources or an FAQ section or to document a process, you can use Notion web pages. 
  • For live calls, you have Zoom or Telegram. You can find less mainstream alternatives, but familiar and known tools create less friction. 
  • For private email, use protonmail.com.
  • For private instant chat, use Signal or secret chats in Telegram
  • For managing projects, use a Trello board or Notion.
  • If the community grows large and complex enough and needs a website, look at SquareSpaceWixNotion, or WordPress.
  • For broadcasting updates, there are two categories:
    • One way broadcast: use a newsletter service like AWeber, or a Telegram channel
    • Anyone can broadcast: email groups (aka distribution lists or listserv) – here, people email one group address, and it gets automatically distributed to all those who are subscribed. It is very similar to the newsletter service, but anyone can send a “newsletter,” not just the list owner. This service does not seem to be as popular as it used to be, but here is a provider: eMailDodo (for just $10/year, you get no ads and extended membership). Using email groups is easier for people who communicate over email by replying to the notifications they get. If you have a tech person on the team, these email distribution systems can be setup up on your server.
  • For accepting payments, you can use PayPal or Stripe. Or you can go the crypto way and accept things like LTC (lite coin) or other micropayment options.
  • For events, a shared Google calendar I found works best. There may be other alternatives with friendlier privacy policies. 
  • If you need a forum, I can recommend Circle, it is not perfect or complete by any means, but you get a lot for the price you pay. Alternatively, you can try the groups in MeWe.

When you choose your tools for your community, consider what the needs will be, allow the community to grow, and consider what your audience is comfortable with using. The best tool for the job will do nothing for you if no one uses it.