Last Updated: May 15, 2020
Businesses all over Canada have been affected by the novel coronavirus and its effect on the workforce. While the government is launching programs to help small businesses, the initiatives may not be enough to keep some businesses afloat.
Fortunately, a lot of other businesses are stepping up to provide aid however they can; whether in the form of free or discounted services, skills training, or direct financial aid. We’ve compiled a detailed list of assistance programs below and categorized them for easier browsing.
Companies across different industries and service types are offering assistance. We’ve sorted them by service type to make them easy to scan.
Hootsuite is offering free access to its social media management tool for new users until July 1st, 2020. You need to provide a credit card upon signing up, but don’t worry about charges. They’ve announced that there will be no auto-renewal at the end of the free period. Sign up here.
Email marketing service Mailchimp is offering three months of free services to small businesses that qualify for aid. This offer is available to current customers who have 25 or fewer employees in specific industries. Sign up for the free service here. You can read the official company announcement for more details.
Design agency Superside is offering to provide free design work to companies affected by COVID-19. Their offer is free for up to $1,000 worth of services, with a discounted rate for anything beyond. Sign up here.
SpyFu is a keyword research tool that specializes in competitive research. It allows you to download your competitor`s most profitable keywords to inform your own keyword strategy. They are currently offering users two months of their Basic Premium plan for free. To sign up, email their support team at [email protected].
Influencer marketing tool Intellifluence has announced free lifetime plans for qualified small businesses. This includes access to their database of more than 70,000 influencers and the assorted pitch and reporting tools available to paid users. You can apply for the free plan here.
StoryChief is a social media management solution that helps you streamline your content publication and promotion efforts. You can sign up to use it for free until May 19. Just fill out the sign-up form here.
Live events are now nonexistent, but organizers can still get people together online thanks to companies like Hopin. It offers more interaction options than a standard Zoom meeting, such as one-on-one chats, group breakout sessions, main and backstage feeds, and more. Hopin is still in early access, but in response to the current crisis they are offering a discounted plan. Sign up by requesting a demo.
Many organizers were forced to cancel their existing events due to the current crisis. That’s why virtual summit platform HeySummit is offering free and discounted services to companies whose events in the coming year have been called off. Get the details in their blog post and sign up here.
10. adHOME Creative
London-based advertising agency adHOME Creative is offering free marketing and advertising advice to Canadian businesses across any industry and size. Read the official announcement here and reach out through their contact form to apply for aid.
11. Miss Thing’s
Miss Thing’s is not a B2B SaaS service. It’s a restaurant in Toronto generously offering to help other local restaurants create their own takeout / delivery websites. And they’re doing it absolutely free.
Converge is a B2B content distribution platform that helps businesses reach more readers. In light of the pandemic, Converge is offering new users free access to the community up until July 1st, 2020.
The pandemic has shut the doors of many physical retail stores, which has hurt both sellers and buyers alike. In light of this, Google has announced that they are now allowing merchants to sell their products free on Google. Merchants can list their products and get priority placement in search results. It’s limited to the US at the moment, but you can look for updates and additional details here.
To help retail businesses stay afloat and keep selling to customers, Shopify is offering an extended 90-day free trial for any and all merchants. Shopify is one of the leading ecommerce platforms in the industry, so it’s worth trying out. You can sign up at this link.
15. Quick eSelling
Quick eSelling is an ecommerce platform that wants to help retailers stay in business. Businesses who need help can sign up for the service and set up their own eCommerce store from scratch for free.
16. Magento Commerce
Magento Commerce, the eCommerce platform owned by Adobe, is offering three months of their service for free. Note that this isn’t actually a free product. Instead, you have to sign up for a contract with Magento, which you don’t have to pay for the first three months.
Ecwid’s business model already allows you to create a free online store and run it as long as you want, but the free version lacks the advanced features available in the paid version, such as gift cards, dropshipping, and POS integration. They’re now offering these features for free to help businesses cope with COVID-19. This promotion lasts through the end of 2020.
18. Microsoft Teams
Lots of organizations and schools are working remotely, and Microsoft wants to do their part to make the adjustment easier. Microsoft Teams is now free for everyone to download and use, regardless of whether or not they have an Office 365 license. Free Teams licenses are valid until January 2021. Learn how to sign up here.
19. Zoho Remotely
Zoho Remotely is a suite of web and mobile apps that allows teams to effectively work from home. Available apps include: meeting scheduling apps, video conferencing, file management, scrum boards, remote desktop sharing, and more. Zoho Remotely is free until July 1, 2020.
Vectera is a video conferencing platform that wants to help business practice social distancing by making remote work easier. New users will get the full package for free, and existing users will be automatically upgraded with the ability to add additional users. This promotion will last until June 1st, 2020. Sign up here.
One of the biggest logistical challenges of the sudden shift to remote work is making sure employees have access to whatever files they are working on. Meero seeks to help facilitate this by offering free large file transfers to ease the transition to working from home. All storage folders (“Drops” as Meero calls them) created between now and June 2020 will remain active for three months.
22. WordPress Project Manager
WordPress Project Manager is an open-source project management tool that helps businesses stay organized and employees stay on task. It has a basic free version, but workers forced to stay at home can get the Premium Business Package for free for up to three months. Sign up here.
LimeCall is more than just a phone conferencing tool. It’s geared towards sales professionals and teams and has features such as lead management, call scheduling, and customer management. It’s also free for organizations who are helping fight COVID-19 and involved in helping society. Apply here.
Lots of people are meeting remotely via video conference, but what if you want to skip the meeting while still connecting using the same audio/visual channel? Loom allows you to record a video of yourself, whatever you’re presenting and instantly share it to other team members. It introduced many changes to its pricing structure to help businesses cope, from extending trials to removing limits on its free plan. Read more here.
Callture is a cloud-based enterprise phone system that can be deployed remotely, without any physical locations required. It has announced an open-ended offering that gives free phone service to any employees working from home for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak, however long that will be.
IT / Development
25. Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft has announced that they are extending the trial period of Microsoft Office 365 E1 to six months to help businesses cope with working remotely. This offer is open to any business with a Microsoft account rep or is served by a certified Microsoft partner. Learn more about the offer here.
One unforeseen problem many new remote workers and students encounter is the level of background noise in their home. Noise cancellation technology service Krisp now offers a free plan of 120 min/week of noise cancellation, along with a 30% discount to their Pro and Teams plans. It’s also free for students, teachers, hospitals, and governments. Learn more here.
Cloudflare is a web-infrastructure and web-security company that offers internet security, distributed-domain-name-server and content-delivery-network services. They want to help smaller businesses with few IT resources that have been impacted by COVID-19, and are offering free seats for Cloudflare for Teams up to September 1, 2020. Sign up here.
LiveSession is a tool that lets you record and play user sessions to help improve an app or website’s UX. They are now offering 50% off for every business affected by COVID-19, and offering it for free for any non-profits that need it. Read the announcement to learn more.
Techsmith is helping to facilitate online learning by giving free access to their screen recording tool Techsmith Snagit and their asynchronous collaboration platform Techsmith Video Review until June 2020. They are also allowing increased usage for existing customers of their digital learning platform, Techsmith Relay. Read more here.
Product tour software provider UserGuiding has built a COVID-19 survey tool to help you find out which of your customers have been affected by the virus and by how much. The tool is currently available for free on Product Hunt.
Plutio is an all-in-one business management platform that allows business owners to manage projects, track time, create proposals, and manage invoices all from one app. They are offering a 30% discount on any of their plans for the next two months. Just sign up using the code COVID19. In addition to the discount, Plutio has also increased user limits on their plans and doubled commissions for affiliates. Read the official announcement for more info.
Free services are great, but what if you need to improve your employees instead of your tech stack? In that case, we’ve got a bunch of free training options available for you or your team.
Ahrefs is a big name in the SEO industry, both in terms of the quality of their product and the quality of the content they put out. So their Blogging for Business training course is definitely something any marketer should look into. Take the course here.
Moz is another marketing industry giant that made its name working with SEO. Their Moz Academy has an extensive collection of training classes, each of which cost anywhere from $200 to $500. But most of the course offerings are now available for free until May 31 if you register with the code wegotthis at checkout.
DemandBase is a digital marketing platform that focuses on Account-Based Marketing. Not sure what that is? DemandBase is offering a free online training and certification course on their website. This course is valued at over $675 and will be free until July 31, 2020. Sign up here.
If your interests lie in the IT and technology field, IBM has opened up its exclusive Enterprise Design Thinking program, which includes courses like Artificial Intelligence Design. You can sign up for free with a clear mind, because IBM has guaranteed that you will not be automatically charged when the free period ends.
Online education company MindEdge is offering a free Digital Marketing Strategy course and can be accessed via mobile device. The course aligns with the Online Marketing Certified Associate credentials and is open to anyone who wants to apply. Sign up here.
While there are a plethora of services and training available to businesses, sometimes you just need cold, hard cash to get you through the tough times. That’s why we’ve also included grants and credits on this list as well.
Facebook is offering more than $100 million in cash grants and ad credits to qualified small businesses to help them through this difficult time. This grant is available in 30+ countries, and they’re rolling it out gradually. Canada is not part of the initial group, but Canadian businesses are still encouraged to apply. Just go to the bottom of the announcement and fill out the “How Do I Apply” section.
Google has pledged more than $800 million to support small businesses and crisis response. This amount is distributed across multiple initiatives and programs. One noteworthy program is a $350 million fund going towards free Google Ads credits to SMBs. Any business with an account that was active over the past year can apply, and the credits will be good through 2020. Apply here.
Ownr and RBC Ventures have joined forces to create a $25,000 relief fund to support and encourage Canadian entrepreneurship. Selected applicants will receive $1,000 to invest towards their growing business. Applications are open until May 22, 2020 and can be submitted here.
43. Montreal Restaurant Worker’s Relief Fund
Restaurant owners in Montreal can get relief for their workers by registering for the Montreal Restaurant Worker’s Relief Fund. The fund provides direct financial relief to eligible applicants in amounts from $50 to $150 to help service immediate, urgent needs.
Legal practice management software Clio is reaching out to their clients by pledging $1 million worth of aid programs to help the legal community work through COVID-19. If you are a legal professional, you can apply for the program here.
Be smart with free stuff
There are many businesses offering free services and products, but don’t snap up every offer just because you can. You still need to learn all of these new apps, find a way to incorporate them into your work process, and then train the rest of the team. That doesn’t even count the cost increase that may apply at the end of the benefit period.
Carefully consider your needs before registering for any paid service or grant. Develop a realistic plan of what you can do to get through the current crisis and carefully select the apps that will help you. Look forward to the future for when businesses are opening back up, and whether or not you can afford to keep the app once the free or discounted service ends.
It’s great to know that companies are stepping up to help fellow businesses however they can during this difficult time, and doing so in ways that encourage others to pay it forward.
Are there any other apps offering their services for free during the shutdown? Let us know by sending an email to [email protected]!
This article offers general information only, is current as of the date of publication, and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.