Software for non-profits

The sector: When you start looking around there are lots of software applications focussed on charities and non-profit groups. However, as you’ll appreciate, the non-profit sector is a broad church. Groups range from small local community support groups to £multi-million turnover national charities, and you’ll find examples of the full spectrum operating in the Test Valley.

Software Developers: As you might expect with such a broad market for software support, there is a similarly diverse range of software developers, from developers run by charitable organisations, through successful developers who want to support the sector on a non-profit basis to those who look to make profits from focussing on the needs of the largest charities. In short, that means that charges vary enormously!

Functionality: Most software applications will be focussed on completing one particular task but will almost always include functionality for related issues. For example, the Contact Management functionality of newsletter software might be sufficient for a small organisation but will fall short for more complex needs. It might be great at producing and sending lovely newsletters and recording who receives them, opens them, and engages with them. But if you want to record additional contact with your audience, then it just won’t do. You need a full- blown CRM package (CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management). There are in fact some attractive, one-stop-shop group management tools that might well even make your morning coffee and toast for you. But it’s all at a price that’s well beyond all but the larger charities:

Specialist knowledge: In the face of all that, we have to concede that none of us at Unity are professional software analysts, so the best we can hope to do is to create an introductory bridge between no knowledge and some knowledge and then support you as much as we can as you take your project forward.

So, who is the Digital Hub for and what does it deliver?

The Hub is primarily intended for smaller community groups, running with limited resource and having little experience with implementing software solutions. That doesn’t mean that if you don’t meet those criteria there’s nothing here of interest. It just means that because that’s our focus, the content may miss out some software that might otherwise interest you.

As many smaller groups have limited resources and simple needs, we have focussed on identifying free or low-cost software that’s available online, each designed to a deliver a particular function. This means that that users can quickly experiment and then implement software processes without being committed to large financial outlay. And once you’ve experience of what you need and how software packages deliver solutions, you’ll be better qualified to assess more sophisticated solutions. 

Many smaller groups won’t ever need an expensive solution and could well operate a small number of separate free or low- cost packages to meet their needs. So that’s what the toolkit is designed to help with.

And finally, in terms of support, many of the software applications we’ve identified offer good online support that you can use to increase your knowledge and put the software to best use. Where we can though we’ve identified additional information sources to help you.

The Digital Hub sections and how to use them

We’ve categorised suitable software applications and sorted them by their primary function. The table below gives you quick access to each section. 

There’s a couple of different ways to use this resource we think. Firstly, if you already have a clear idea of what you want software to do for you (and that really does help) you  can go straight to the section(s) you’re interested and see what’s available. But even if you’re not even considering the subject at the moment, it might be worth reading all the sections. We’ve kept them as brief and simple as we can. Who knows, you might get that “crumbs, we could save ££££’s if we could automate that process” moment and take the first steps on a digital future that you hadn’t even anticipated!

So, to the sections:

  • CRM 
  • Email Marketing 
  • Event Management 
  • Fundraising and Donation Platforms 
  • Office/Microsoft 365 Applications
  • Poster and Advert Design 
  • Social Media 
  • Website 

And finally…

We’re here to help and will do everything we can to support you with your first or next software application. Just email us to start the ball rolling. But please remember that we are not specialist software analysts, so we cannot accept any responsibility for the software that features in these sections or any adverse experience or consequences arising from their use. 

Disclaimer

The information in the Digital Hub was, to our best belief, accurate at time of writing.  Although we plan to maintain and update the information to reflect future changes, please bear in mind that some of the information may become out-of-date over time.  We recommend that you follow the links provided to the websites of the software vendors to check for their latest information.

The opinions expressed on the potential strengths and weakness of each of the solutions in the Hub are those of individuals within Unity, and do not reflect the views and opinions of Unity as an organisation.  Please use the opinions expressed as guidance only – you may  find that the specific needs of your own organisation outweigh some of the assumptions that we have made, and we encourage you to carry out your own research using the links that we have provided as well as other sources of information.  

We also recommend that you trial any application you choose before rolling it out fully within your organisation – free trials are available for most products and services.

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