Top 30 Technologies for Northern Ireland Charities

29 Apr 2015 Ian Kelly    Last updated: 29 Apr 2015

Consider your organisation’s digital strategy. Include your staff as to where they think your digital compass should be pointing. Align any improvements with your strategic goals and you have a path to a secure digital future.

Here are 30 of the top digital tools which could help your organisation move forward and ones which are well within any financial reach.

Data / Information Management

Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Currently version 2015, Microsoft's Customer Relationship Management system is flexible and powerful, but will require customisation to suit your organisation. Donated on-premise server and CAL licencing available via tt-exchange (Cloud version available) (From £86)
Salesforce
Up to 10 free user licences for eligible non-profits with discounted rates thereafter. Full enterprise features and support (Cloud version available) (From Free)
SugarCRM (Community Edition)
Commercial Open-Source CRM system. Community Edition is free, on-premise only and restricted in functionality, professional versions available at a cost and can be cloud-based. (Free / Paid)
VTiger
Another good alternative Open-Source CRM application which offers slightly more functionality, but increasing technical demand to setup (Paid cloud versions available) (Free / Paid)
CiviCRM
Open-Source Constituent Relationship Management system, geared more towards charity terminology (Paid cloud versions available via hosting providers) (From Free)

Document / Project Management

Microsoft SharePoint
Mainly used as an intranet system but can be customised to act as a file management system with file version control, in-browser editing, collaborative working and simple file sharing. Available as an on-premise server with associated CALs from TT-Exchange or cloud-based as part of the Microsoft 365 non-profit programme (From £267 plus CAL on-premise user licence / Free with Office 365)
Google Docs
Free as part of the Google Apps non-profit programme in the UK, giving collaborative cloud-based document storage, editing and sharing in addition to a cloud-based email system. (Free)
Huddle
Online collaborative content and project management tool. Cross-device file sharing, sync and management. Project and task management functionality. 25 User package available via the TT-Exchange Programme at a reduced cost. (From £82)
Yammer
A private, corporate social network promoting collaborative working across your organisation. Auto-authentication and connection to Microsoft 365 allow a relatively seamless file sharing application. Connect securely externally with private networks to extend functionality. Free if an active Microsoft 365 customer (free to eligible non-profits) (Free)
OpenProject
Open-Source on-premise or web-based technical project management tool with an active international community. Manage your technical development project with collaborative document working, meeting organisation, budget management and more (Free)

Video Conferencing

GoToMeeting / GoToTraining
HD Video conference and screen sharing system, 1 year 25 user licence available from TT-Exchange. Organise, manage and carry out a professional webinar or meet remotely with staff, executive or clients to spread your information to a broader audience (GoToMeeting / GoToTraining) GoToTraining package is similar with more advanced learning-related utilities. (From £7 for 1st year)
Google Hangouts
Free with any Google account, or use Hangouts on Air public streaming via your Google non-profit account. A well-known and easy to set up group video calling system but with less management functionality. Good quality calling with screen share capability (Free)
Skype
Connect for free to single or group voice or video calls (up to 25 – free account) or make calls and texts to mobiles or landlines (TT-Exchange offering $20 credit vouchers for £1) (From Free)
YouTube (non-profit live streaming)
Available as part of the free Google non-profit programme, you can live-stream and record to an unlimited number of viewers, basic editing or link in with third-party broadcast editing suites. (Free)
Periscope / Meerkat
Mobile Apps designed to give everyone the ability to live-stream video content to a massive audience via your smartphone or tablet (iOS only at present) (Free)

Multimedia / Marketing

Adobe Photoshop / Premiere (Elements)
If you have invested in a decent camera or video camera, get the best results out of your footage by making edits or improving colour etc. Photoshop Elements provides enough basic utility for most photographers, Premiere Elements is a mid/top end video editing suite. Both available via the TT-Exchange donation programme as a single purchase. (From £14)
GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program)
Free software for photo and image enhancement, with enhanced digital retouching tools. Not as powerful as Adobe, but a decent package nonetheless. (Free)
Pinnacle Studio 18
Another mid/high level video editing package offering an easy-to-use interface for most basic video edits. Can be purchased or free with some capture hardware. (From £49.95)
Youtube
A basic, verified account will allow for up to an 11hour (up to 20GB file) video to be hosted for free, or combine with the non-profit programme functions of using call-to-action overlays or use of the Donation button, you can create a powerful awareness and fundraising tool for your organisation. (Free)
Vimeo
A more corporate level of video hosting with password-protected privacy capabilities, a cleaner layout and interface and no advertising. (Free / Paid)
Instagram (or other Social Media)
Getting an instant message across direct from your pc or mobile device is invaluable these days. Instagram provides a free image sharing function, combine that with the more corporate Twitter account and engage on a personal level with a Facebook page or account and you have a powerful tool to engage instantly with your member or audience. (Free)
Storify
With a simple drag and drop interface, create a story of a recent event covered on social media, add video, audio and quotes to create a compelling timeline of events. Collaborate and share this easily from within the interface. (Free)
Mailchimp
A professional bulk mailing service with built-in customisable templates and analytics, and the capability to connect with a multitude of platforms, including your CRM system for instant email marketing. (From Free / non-profit pricing available)
Google Ads
As part of the Google non-profit programme you receive a $329 daily limit on Google Ads (Equivalent to £72,000 per year!) to create short text-based ads which appear on the Google search results page. (Free)

Cloud Technologies

Office 365
Available via the Office 365 non-profit program, this give you a full suite of Exchange, Sharepoint, OneDrive and Office rolled into one. Cloud-based and secured to one of the highest levels possible.
Google Apps
Exchange-equivalent email, online storage, collaborative document working, incorporating Google Docs, Hangouts and Drive, it is available for eligible non-profits via the non-profit programme.
Azure
Cloud hosting service for many of your current in-house systems such as SQL Database, Active Directory, Storage Apps, Websites or a Windows or Linux virtual machine and more. Enterprise-grade security and high availability allow for a professional service charged on a per use basis. (Varying costs based on requirements, may be included in the non-profit program in future)

Websites

Drupal
Open-Source Content Management Platform, used mainly for websites, but can be used for various applications. Very robust and supported by a massive community Drupal is used to run some of the world’s biggest sites and is one of the most powerful CMS systems available. Extremely customisable with an array of add-ins to best suit your needs with a quick setup. (Free)
Wordpress (.com / .org)
Another open-source Content Management Platform with both an on-premise downloadable version (wordpress.org) and a hosted solution (wordpress.com). It may come down to personal preference between this and alternatives, but sites can be set up and fully operational within minutes making it an ideal choice for beginners (Free)
Joomla
Open-source CMS aimed more at E-Commerce types of sites, but a higher technical ability would be required to code. A lesser number of plugins or themes than others with a moderate skill level required to setup an on-premise server. Hosting would be done with a third party provider. (Free)

(Standard hosting packages support different technologies, so make sure that you make the right choice depending on what you currently have. Certain providers such as www.lcn.com offer free hosting to eligible charities, others may also if you ask.)
 

This list is by no means definitive and reflects best options at the time of publishing this article. If you feel you have found an invaluable tool for your organisation, please get in touch and tell us how you have used this so maybe others can learn from your experience.

ian.kelly@nicva.org's picture
by Ian Kelly

Systems Administrator

[email protected]

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