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Welcome to the first part of the new NCVO website. While we finish building it, you will find the rest of our help and guidance on our existing site.

Finding software discounts safely

Use this page to find the best ways to get discounts from the software industry. Lots of support is available for registered charities and sometimes you can even get discounts for community groups and community interest companies.

Working out what you need

In order to make the right choices when you buy software or sign up to use free software you need to spend some time thinking about exactly what you need.

If you’re not sure where to start, follow our step by step guide to choosing new software or tools.

Once you start to understand what you need, you can take one of three next steps to finding discounts.

  • Use Charity Digital Exchange – an online discount collection.
  • Find a partner who will help you get software discounts.
  • Go direct to software companies.

Use Charity Digital Exchange – an online discount collection

This is an online collection of discounts specifically for charities, from a range of providers. Some discounts are also available to organisations that are not registered charities.

These are all genuine discounts, negotiated by Techsoup who work globally, and partner in the UK with Charity Digital. The site helps you check if they offer what you need, whether your organisation is eligible for this discount, and then takes you to a link you can buy from.

Use this:

  • when you know what you are looking for
  • if you’re comfortable reading terms and conditions of the agreements offered yourself to check there are no hidden costs
  • to browse or search a large selection of offers from different providers that exist for charities.

Useful links

Find a partner who will help you get software discounts

To get the best deals you need to ensure you are working with the right people, with the right knowledge, partnerships and plans in place.

You can work with a partner (sometimes called a software broker) who will find deals for you.

They can do the following.

  • Support you as you work out exactly what it is that you want to achieve.
  • Help you confirm that you are looking at the right kind of products.
  • offer additional advice and support around other considerations that may come into play such as security, governance, user adoption and training.
  • Use their negotiation skills on your behalf to get the best prices possible.
  • Use the influence they gain from supporting lots of groups and charities to get you bulk discounts even if you only have a small number of staff or volunteers.
  • Save you from lots of hours spent on phone calls haggling with providers or searching web pages trying to understand criteria.

You do need to make sure you have found a trustworthy and reliable partner. They will not usually charge you for the service. They make their money from their arrangements with the software companies.

Warning signs to watch out for include:

  • Are they listening to you properly?
  • Are they offering you lots of things that aren’t what you originally asked about?
  • Are they making you feel confused or nervous so they can sell you things you don’t need?

It's always fine to walk away if something is not right for you.

Challenges when working with a partner:

  • Even a really good partner will have relationships with a limited number of software companies. They may not be able to compare as many different products that do similar things as you could do if you went direct.

To find a good partner, use Google and follow our advice on avoiding scams.

Go direct to software companies

Large software companies (often called vendors) often have dedicated teams to support charities. These teams tend to be called 'non-profit' support if the company is based in the US.

Some smaller companies may not have a well-advertised programme but will still offer discounts to charities. You can find these in three ways.

  • Search their website for a 'non profit discount form'. Sometimes these are hard to find.
  • Call their customer service number.
  • Email their customer service address.

Try this if:

  • you have a very clear idea of exactly what you want
  • you feel comfortable making a plan or strategy for what you’d like to get.

The larger companies will often have forms that require a registered charity number. Some of them will want to see your annual review or ask for a request on headed notepaper. Smaller companies may be more flexible and prepared to support other groups and organisations.

If someone makes you an offer make sure to check the terms and conditions carefully.

  • Is any data you share going to be safe?
  • Is there a time limit on the offer?
  • Is there a limit to how many users or times you can do things?

Avoid getting caught in a scam

Whether you are looking for a partner or going direct to a software company, don’t get caught up in dodgy downloads or scams. Knowing which links are genuine and there to really help you relies on a little bit of knowledge around how the web works and trusting your instincts. The old phrase of ‘something seems too good to be true’ is still true.

First skip past the adverts. You want to be viewing the links that Google trusts most. That’s the top links after the ads in your search return listings. Then if something seems to be extremely cheap or free ask yourself a few questions before clicking.

  • Is this a trusted supplier or brand that you recognise?
  • Is the URL (the address that starts www in the browser bar) the right one for that supplier or brand?
  • Is the price massively cheaper than anywhere else? If so, do they explain why in a convincing way?
  • Have you dealt with them before or know someone that has?
  • Don’t rule out companies that connect with more than one big brand. Can you find out their track record?

Last reviewed: 02 March 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 02 March 2021

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