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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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Interest free finance available to all UK charities

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Tengo Software are delighted to announce that we are offering interest-free credit to all UK Charities.

There is very little to be pleased about when Covid is causing lock-downs and reduced revenue-flow for your Charity. Tengo has been supporting its customers since the start, and now can help non-customers too, who want to take advantage of lock-down to improve systems, or save money by replacing expensive Charity Shop software and Fundraising CRM contracts with a cheaper alternative that is being used by many charities all over the UK – see some of the things our users have to say here.

The interest free finance is available to any UK Charity on purchases of Hardware and Software Licences combined.

If you would like to discuss the options available and find out more, please contact us today!

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A guide to sending end of year Gift Aid letters for donated goods

end of year gift aid letters
Posting end of year Gift Aid letters.

When you sell donated goods on behalf of people bringing them in to your Charity Shops, HMRC require you to contact anyone with end of year Gift Aid letters who has generated £20 or more’s worth of sales to let them know how much money has been raised. For those with less than £20 worth of sales, you need to contact them every 3 years.

Each tax year, this must be done by no later than the 31st of May. Full guidelines along with a template letter can be found on HMRC’s website here. The letters can be sent by email or by post.

It can be quite a task to aggregate all the data and complete the mailing of end of year Gift Aid letters – but Tengo Software’s Charity Shop Software makes the process as easy as it can be.

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Tengo help the NHS to raise funds through Gift Aid

Find out how Tengo’s software is helping NHS charities in the UK – written by Tim Diggle, Head of Charity, Leicester Hospitals Charity, and Alison Reynolds, Volunteer Service Co-ordinator, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

Till in use at Glenfield Hospital shop
Till in use at Glenfield Hospital shop

We had a charity shop at one of our hospitals for 25 years that used the very basic system of writing each item sold into a book and working out the totals and change in your head. This shop was run solely by volunteers and was doing very well but the system left people open to making mistakes and there was no gift aid being claimed in the shop. In 2017 we recruited a charity shop manager, rebranded the shop we had, opened a second shop and decided to implement retail gift aid into both shops.

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GDPR – The ICO announces that the UK is reforming Data Protection laws In May 2018

It was announced on the 31st October by the ICO which provides clarity on the direction the UK is taking when it comes to the new data protection regulations. The Information Commissioner announced what many of us have been suspecting, that the UK is effecting the new GDPR regulations in May 2018 as originally planned.

Continue reading GDPR – The ICO announces that the UK is reforming Data Protection laws In May 2018