Tech That Won’t Cost the Earth: How Charities Can Access Free and Low-Cost Software

Friday 27 Oct 2023

Joel Hogan, programmes manager at Charity Digital joined us to share tips and advice about free low-cost software that could benefit charities.

The webinar is available on YouTube

With the cost-of-living crisis, charities are finding that donations are declining but there is a greater demand on their services. Joel therefore encourages charities to embrace free tech and advice to save money and make their charity’s operations more efficient.

Charity Digital Exchange has saved 80,000 UK charities more than 300 million on tech in 15 years


As the UK partner of international non-profit, TechSoup, Charity Digital works with some of the biggest companies such as Microsoft and Adobe.

For example, charities can get a year’s free Adobe Express Premium account. The app can help you create marketing materials and provides simple templates and access to image libraries and publishing tools.

Fiver is another great platform which gives charities free access to a bank of freelancers, you will also receive 20% discount on your first service.

Charity Digital has a partnership with the Public Interest Registry, and the PIR will provide a free domain with a host of great extras. Joel feels that a website is essential in making your charity look more professional and trustworthy.

More charities are embracing CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) and Joel mentions that there are some fantastic free options out there. RedCloud has a free version of it’s CRM for charities which comes with donation management software. You can control donations, supporters, campaigns and Gift Aid in one place.

Fluxx is another free option where charities can manage grants, payments, assign tasks and track funding. You can then share impact with your networks.

For accounting, Joel recommends Benchmark, the app includes: free Accounts, Payroll, CRM and Knowledge Management packages.

It is always useful to have access to free images to use for marketing purposes. Joel highlights Pixabay, UnSplash, Pexels and iStock. For image editing, there is Canva, Gimp and Fotor. There is no need to pay larger companies when these websites have brilliant images.

To highlight statistics for reports and presentations it is always great to use infographics to create impact. Joel suggests some brilliant free options, such as: Piktochart, Easel and Vennage.

For work management software to improve operations, processes and improve communication, Joel advises not to splash out but to take advantage of the free options such as: G Suite, Slack and Trello.

Joel proudly states that Charity Digital spend time making sure they present the best software options for charities to save you time and money.

Charity Digital Exchange has a wealth of tech to choose from. Many companies will sell tech to charities at a reduced price. For example, Zoom will give you 50% off a subscription, so no more 40-minute meetings.

It is essential that charities protect their data. Joel is aware that non-profits are frequently targeted by cyber criminals. Avast provides award-winning cyber-security products and have huge discounts available.

Sage Foundation provides discounted financial software, perfect for smaller organisations. Sage has everything you need to manage accountancy, people and payroll.

Charity Digital has a helpline and online chat and are happy to provide help and advice for any of their tech on Charity Digital Exchange.


Advice is available for all things tech from organisations such as Digital Candle and Donate: Code which provide digital expert volunteers to help you with any questions you may have, for tech and for digital skills.

AbilityNet aims to create a digital world accessible to all. They have a wide range of services and provide free IT experts for older people and disabled people. Every volunteer is disclosure checked and can help with things such as, setting up equipment, fixing technical issues and keeping people connected to families.

Third Sector Lab run, The Curve: a series of free workshops for charities to keep you updated with all the best digital practices and improve your skills. Recent workshops have included sessions on Google Analytics, web accessibility and inclusive design.

Charity Digital, as well as providing advice on the best free and discounted software, also provide help and advice. They publish helpful content daily and recent topics have included: cyber security, cash management and fundraising ideas. Alongside articles and webinars, they also have a podcast. Listeners are encouraged to ‘ask us anything’ in advance and these questions are answered in the next podcast by a digital expert. Joel states that there is always something new to learn.

Digishift is a zoom meeting attended by hundreds of charities and digital experts. The project launched with Third Sector Lab alongside the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. It is a collaborative networking space where all can work together to formulate best practice. Joel encourages charities to check out their website for details of their next meeting and their podcast, DigiListen.

CharityComms also provides support through their peer-to-peer network. Charity Finance have a great knowledge and help organisations with their finances and resources. Charities Aid Foundation, are again, another brilliant charity that connects vital organisations, institutions and individuals to ensure everyone has a fair and sustainable future for all.


Joel states that Facebook marketplace can be a good place to search for a good deal on equipment. Moreover, companies such as Philips and Microsoft let you become a product tester so you can trail the latest tech.

Companies sometimes provide discounted tech for charities, particularly if you buy in bulk. You can also rent tech, which might be beneficial if you only need it for a one-off project. Renting can allow greater flexibility.

Tech mentioned here are just a few of many!

Joel recommends that you carefully look around at the free and discounted tech that is available, and make sure you choose those that are best suited to your charity’s needs.

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This blog was written by Karen Cann, CCVS Communications and Development Worker.

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