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Charity Software, how to choose?

Charity Software choices
Charity Software choices

When looking for Charity Software, it can be hard to know what to search for. You know you need to log donations, possibly sell items of bought-in or donated goods, and deal with your supporters face-to-face, over the phone, and online. You also need to keep their details updated, especially regarding Gift Aid, and their contact preferences (GDPR). To handle all of the above, what is it that you need?

Deciding what to search for and which way to turn can be daunting. So we thought we’d run through some of the options and terminology, to help you to find the right charity software.

Donor Database/CRM

You will want an over-arching ‘master’ database, where all information about your donors, and interactions with them, would be stored. This could be called Charity CRM, Fundraising CRM, Donor Database, Donor/Supporter Manager, or Gift Aid Manager – some clients generally refer to the whole ‘admin’ area of our systems as the ‘back-office’ or ‘back-end’.

Searching for these things on Google can be hit and miss, largely because there are so many different terms. A good place to start for finding suppliers, and seeing what they can offer, is HMRCs list of Charity Software suppliers. Other listings such as the Charity Retail Association directory aren’t as comprehensive, as suppliers must pay them to be listed and promoted on their site.

EPoS (Charity Tills)

If you process any donations, sales, or transactions in charity shops or charitable visitor attractions, you’ll need an EPoS system (Electronic Point of Sale, the techy name for a till system). Finding an EPoS system is easier than finding a CRM system. This is because there are fewer relevant search terms. Also, a few key EPoS suppliers have been around for a long time and are the market leaders.

Most commonly, people search for ‘Gift Aid EPoS’ or ‘Charity Tills’. If the EPoS is for charity shops/retail, you can search for ‘Charity Shop Tills ‘. If it’s a charitable visitor attraction, search for ‘Charitable Visitor Attraction Tills‘. Be sure to get a system that can handle Gift Aid as well as all the standard EPoS functions. Standard functions usually include Stock, Products, Memberships, Loyalty Schemes, Special Offers, etc.

The price of EPoS Equipment is much cheaper these days, so it’s preferable to buy your own equipment. Be wary of paying excessive amounts for rental or lease agreements on equipment.

Websites & Online donations

Charity websites are probably the hardest thing to find specific providers for. It might help to find a website of another charity that you like and that has what you need. Usually, the designers will have a link in the footer so you can contact them. Opt for a company that can build a website that is fully integrated with your charity CRM and can process donations.

You can always add links to donation platforms if you don’t have an integrated website. This way, you don’t miss out on funds from online donors. Services such as JustGiving, or TripGiving, can easily be linked to from your website. TripGiving syncs automatically to both our Gift Aid EPoS and Fundraising CRM software systems.

Gift Aid

Whatever solution(s) you are looking at, you will want to ensure they’re capable of processing Gift Aid. Even if you’re looking to purchase an EPoS till for your cafe, it’s always beneficial to be able to take donations and Gift Aid them. You should be able to do this whether face-to-face, online; or anywhere that you interact with supporters and potential donors. Be sure to choose a supplier who has integrated with HMRC for the submission of electronic Gift Aid, a list of which you can find on their website here.

One System To Rule Them All

Whatever you choose, when looking at all of the options, there’s one thing that’s most important of all. Be sure each element actually talks to each other! Many charities have software systems covering the key areas discussed here, but they aren’t actually integrated with each other. The best option is to choose a platform that has one master database, so any changes made on your website, EPoS system, or Fundraising CRM are all completely in sync. Due to the GDPR legislation and the Fundraising Preference Service, this is especially important. Your charity can get in trouble for contacting people if they don’t want to be contacted. If they inform you, in your charity shop, for example, your fundraising system/team needs to know about this straight away.

Integrated Charity Software

Another example of why this is important is online ticket/membership sales. If you sell tickets to your visitor attraction online, your EPoS system should know about it automatically. This way you can validate tickets automatically when scanning them from your visitor’s phone or print-out.

Pricing Transparency

There’s one unwritten rule of pretty much any ‘shopping’, both personally and for business. That is, if you can’t easily find out how much something is going to cost, it’s going to be expensive. If a supplier isn’t showing their pricing, it’s because they don’t want to be compared easily to the competition, and don’t want to scare you off from making an enquiry. Be sure to choose a provider that has clear pricing displayed on their website. There’s no point wasting time looking at solutions only to find out that you can’t afford them.

Charity Software Summary

We hope that you find this guide helpful! Of course, we would be delighted to provide a no-obligation demo of the above solutions, that Tengo Software provide. We have one system covering all areas, that’s simple, low-cost, and easy to use. Contact us today if you’d like to find out more or book a demo. All of our pricing for software and equipment can be found in our Schedule of Rates and Online Store.

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Berkeley Castle boost ticket sales with Tengo Software

Berkeley Castle have been with Tengo Software since 2015, using their visitor attraction EPoS and on-line ticketting platform TripGiving.UK. They have boosted ticket sales by using the system to sell tickets to their amazing charitable visitor attraction both on-line and in person on-site, as well as handling donations.

Jackie Pennington, Operations Manager at Berkeley, had the following to say about the service:

“TripGiving has been a great addition to our website, the system works seamlessly with our tills and enables our visitors to purchase their admission tickets in advance of their visit.  This benefits us in many ways;  it speeds up the admission process, enables UK tax payers to gift aid their ticket whilst making their on-line purchase and also gives us an indication of anticipated visitor numbers for upcoming events. We also take our online donations through the system, as it is cheaper than other options. I would recommend this facility to other attractions!”

Jackie Pennington, Operations Manager, Berkeley Castle