95% of charities missing out on HR efficiency gains

A recent Charity Digital survey found that a majority of charities have never used HR software, but we explain how it could form a powerful, efficiency-driving part of any charity’s tech arsenal.

Chloe Green | 3rd Jun 19
Image shows happy people in a seminar

This article is sponsored by Breathe. Breathe provides cloud-based HR software for businesses and charities with up to 250 employees.

[UPDATE] New research from McKinsey has revealed that up to 50% of tasks we tackle at work today could be automated by 2055. As this article in HR News by Peter Van Ostaeyen, Blockchain and IoT Consultant at SD Worx explains, “HR teams need to ensure they are the hub of workforce technology innovation.”


A recent survey of charities by Charity Digital found that 95% of charities have never used HR software. This is compared to the 62% who use office productivity software, 40% with finance software and 26% making use of CRM software.

72% of charities are making use of cloud-based software in particular to drive efficiencies and save on resources, according to Charity Digital’s annual report ‘The Charity Digital Spectrum: How all charities can go further with digital’.

But while cloud software is bringing efficiency gains to just about every area of business operations, HR remains a largely unexplored area for digital transformation.

While charities are taking advantage of digital innovations to better manage their finances, supporter data, documents and other assets, people and staff are not being managed in the same way.

This is ironic considering that cloud-based HR software has potential to drive productivity and efficiency for time-strapped charities. As is the case with finance and CRM software, HR applications can reduce time spent on manual admin by up to 80%.

What is HR software?

An HR system is a centralised place for organisations to manage people-related functions and processes such as: employee data, expenses, benefits, recruitment, on-boarding, training, absences and holiday requests, workloads and staff performance.

Access to all employee data in one place gives charities a high-level view on the performance, engagement, wellbeing and retainment of their staff.

An HR system hosted in the cloud means charities can securely keep finance and employee data in one place without the need for servers.

In the past, HR software has been regarded by many smaller charities as something only relevant to larger organisations, however, times have changed. There are now systems designed specifically for smaller charities who don’t necessarily employ HR personnel but need to manage employee related information nevertheless.

In much the same way as many smaller organisations benefit by using finance software like Xero or Quickbooks, there are now HR systems – like Breathe – which have been designed for small charities with limited budgets.

Why charities are using it

The main reason why charities choose to invest in HR software is two-pronged:

  • Efficiency
  • Visibility

Many of the challenges that businesses in the commercial sector face around employee management and engagement are just as relevant to charities. However, the need to save time and increase efficiency is even more acute for time-strapped charities.

Having an HR system in place means that charities can more easily keep on top of day-to-day admin , so they’re able to spend less time on time-consuming manual processes such calculating holiday allowances, recording employee absences and collating documents, and more time focusing on their cause.

Allowing staff to manage their own HR tasks in their own self-service dashboard, including contracts and company documents, saves on admin manpower and a paperless, centralised system also lets charities keep accurate, up-to-date records for compliance and risk management purposes.

Not only that but a central view of everyone’s holiday calendars means departments spend less time chasing others for information and more time carrying out mission-critical tasks, as well as being able to plan ahead with confidence.

Some systems include the ability to automatically analyse and report on performance metrics and set meetings, appraisals and objectives, integrating performance with data such absenteeism. This can help maximise employee engagement and ensure charities are getting the absolute most out of their staff.

Access to employee data gives charities a view on what is and isn’t working, nip problems in the bud, help employees have a better work-life balance and help them feel rewarded and noticed for their hard work.

Who’s using it now

The Dorset Wildlife Trust is the largest conservation charity in Dorset with over 25,000 members. In the video below, they explain why they use Breathe’s cloud-based HR platform  which has been designed for UK registered charities with up to 250 employees.

As they grew, their needs also grew beyond using just an Excel spreadsheet for their HR-related data, as Steve Davis, Head of HR and Volunteering, explains.

Watch the video below

To find out more about what HR software can do for your charity, check out Breathe. Breathe provides a cloud-based HR software for businesses and charities with up to 250 employees. All UK registered charities are eligible for a 50% discount, and Breathe also offers a free trial.

Catch up on Breathe Hr’s webinar on the GDPR risks that could catch your charity out