An essential software checklist for charities

Want to make use of digital for your charity but don’t know where to start? We pick out the essential kit that every charity should have in their arsenal, with some of the best donations and discounts.

Chrissy Chiu | 8th Oct 19

From accounting to HR and social media management, we pick out the essential kit that every charity should have in their arsenal, with a focus on some of the best deals and discounts for charities.

> See also: The best online fundraising platforms for charities



1 – Productivity

If you’re looking for office software, the Office 365 suite provides access to all the tools you need for document creation, sharing and collaboration. The free option for up to 300 users provides browser-based access to apps like Word and Excel, cloud-based access to instant messaging, HD video conferencing, and 1 TB personal file storage and sharing. Eligible nonprofits and charities can get set up with Office 365 through Charity Digital Exchange.

We explain the difference between the desktop version and Office 365 for the cloud here, and how to choose.

We’d also recommend taking a look at:

Five free efficiency-driving tools for charities

7 productivity tools for charities you should know about


2 – Accounting

Choosing user friendly tools for accounting and payroll is paramount. For charities, Xero offers a free 30-day trial, with most packages 50% for the first three months. Afterwards, packages range from £10 per month upwards.

Quickbooks also offers charities a 30-day trial, packages at 50% for the first six month, and plans start at £14 per month thereafter. Quickbooks is most helpful for charities with employees working on mobile phones. The software can enable employees to upload and process expenses.

We’ve recently covered the best HMRC-approved finance platforms for managing and submitting VAT Returns and VAT records.


3 – Payments

Necessary for charities taking any kind of payments online, payment gateways help charities handle debit and credit card transactions.

We’ve recently looked at some more of the best payments gateways for charities here.


4 – Donor management

Keeping track of valuable donations and donor profiles can be simplified by using software. Donorfy’s CRM system can manage donor profiles and communications, and integrate with existing software such as Outlook. Charities can get its starting package absolutely free.

Coming with GDPR compliant governance and digital features to track donors, volunteers, and employees, Groop’s holistic cloud-based platform could be used to streamline growing charities. The platform includes a 30-day trial and pricing starts at £20 per month.

Read on for more on how to choose a CMS or donor management system that’s right for your charity.


5 – Social media management

Reaching out to the world and motivating funds from donors means being on social media. Earlier in the year we reviewed some of the best social media management platforms for charities.

Many include 30-day trials ahead of full subscriptions, like Hootsuite, and Lightful; others like TweetDeck are free. For shoe-string budgets, Social-Searcher has a free search tool to track online social media mentions, users, trends and mentions in the wild.


6 – Event management

An event management system can help all types of charities organise events by tracking ticket sales, setting pricing tiers and setting up.

For some of the most cost-effective systems, check out our online event platforms review, featuring EventBrite, Idloom and more. Idloom events automation platform is available as a donation for eligible charities on the Charity Digital Exchange programme.


7 – HR

HR systems are great for charities looking to do away with spreadsheets capturing personal data. BreatheHR’s system, tailored especially for charities, offers storage for employee data, holiday and absence tracking, performance management and more.

A 14-day trial is also available, with pricing plans ranging from £10 per month. Cezanne, used by and many others, also caters directly to charitable organisations. Pricing works by number of employees and functions, so charities can flex up or down depending on needs.

Take a look at some of the best self-service HR platforms here.

> See also: Why digitising HR was the natural choice for Dorset Wildlife Trust


8 – Security

If charities want to meet the Charity Commissions core responsibilities around cyber security for charities, they can’t afford to leave it to chance or shift all responsibility to someone external – fortunately, there are a number of easy to use and low-cost cyber security software options for charities including anti-virus and web security.

The Charity Digital Exchange has security products as donations for eligible charties, including Bitdefender, Symantec and most recently Avast.

> See also: Avast offers security software donations for charities


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