Joe Lepper

Joe Lepper

Journalist, Charity Digital

How to cut your IT software costs

Reducing your spend on IT software and hardware is one way to cut your operational costs at a time of financial uncertainty and squeezed budgets.

With the need to ensure software is up-to-date, secure, and effectively supporting teams to maximise income and support communities, ignoring IT needs is simply not an option.

Here we look at some of the ways charities can access cheap software.


Use Charity Digital’s Exchange

Many software developers are aware of the need to offer discounts and other deals to charities, to ensure that they can use their products on a limited budget.

Many of these deals are available through Charity Digital’s Exchange in areas such as security, customer and relationship management, social media scheduling, travel, finance, and marketing.

For example, charities can receive discounted subscriptions to Microsoft 365 services through the Exchange. This includes discounted deals, starting at £2.20 per user per month for small- to medium-sized charities for up to 300 users, as well as for deals for those with a larger workforce.

Another popular piece of kit is the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of design, graphics, video, and audio apps. Through the Exchange charities can receive a 60% discount for the first year and a 40% reduction for subsequent years.

Among other software suppliers to make their products available to charities via the Exchange is social media platform Lightful. This includes a free plan for charities working on a shoestring budget amid the cost-of-living crisis.


Source second-hand options

There are many other organisations and charities offering second hand, refurbished IT options for good causes.

Computer Aid offers cheap, refurbished technology products to charities. Through its deals it can offer refurbished hardware 80% cheaper than new equipment. It is also offering software from 10 times cheaper than the market price.

Another is Computers for Charities that is offering discounts on refurbished IT for charities, schools and churches. This includes desktops, laptops, and software.


Find software that is free for charities

There are also several organisations offering charities free access to a range of software. Red Cloud is among software developers to do this for its CRM and donation management software.

Another is Grant Seeker.Fluxx, which offers free entry level access to its CRM software.

Benchmark Business Software is another provider offering charities free deals on software package. It also offers discounted software support deals of £10 a month.

While many online tools for different business purposes offer free services for a limited number of users or limited features, some offer their paid-for packages free to charities. On the marketing and communications side, design tool Canva offers its premium features free of charge, while Google Ad Grants enables charities to access up to £7,000 a month in search ads.


Buy in bulk

Another money saving tip for charities looking to access software is to buy in bulk. Often software providers, such as Microsoft, can offer further deals to charities who are buying licenses and access to technology in bulk.


Rent software

Software can also be ‘rented’ by buying it for a limited time, or for a limited number of uses. This is much cheaper than buying year or multi-year licences, especially if a charity only wants to use specific software, such as for design or video editing, for a short period of time.


Seek advice

Sector body the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) offers a raft of useful information online on accessing software easily and cheaply.

It advises charities that software companies often have dedicated non-profit teams, offering deals such as bulk purchase discounts to charities. The NCVO advises searching software suppliers’ websites or calling them direct.

Other advice includes the importance of planning what software is needed, including what it is needed for, comparing different software tools, training options as well as rolling software across the charity’s workforce. The NCVO works with Phoenix software to help charities develop a software strategy that best fits their budget and circumstance.

This article was originally published on Charity Digital.