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Software Tools for New Nonprofits

A guide to the the most valuable donated software for nonprofits and libraries

Software Tools for New Nonprofits 
Patrick Duggan - January 24, 2014

We've put together this simple guide to the donated software that most nonprofits and libraries need in their toolkit, especially when they're just starting out. Plus: we also offer numerous free learning resources to help you better manage your staff, volunteers, and business consultants.

Software to Build and Grow Your Nonprofit

As your nonprofit colleagues, we at TechSoup understand how important it is to run your organization in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible. We hear from young nonprofits and libraries all the time, and we know that making wise and affordable technology investments can play a vital part in building and growing an organization.

To wit: we've put together this simple guide to the donated software that most all nonprofits and libraries need in their toolkit, especially when they're just starting out. Plus: we also offer numerous free learning resources to help you better manage your staff, volunteers, and business consultants.

Don't forget: log in and check your eligibility to see which of the donations below are available to your organization. All of these donated software tools can be requested at the same time. Keep in mind that every donation program at TechSoup has its own rules and restrictions. (Some let you request only one donation, some, like Microsoft, let you request several.)

Get Your Office Running

Microsoft Office 2013Microsoft Office is the backbone of most nonprofit and library offices. From word processing to managing email and spreadsheets, these programs are the standard in office productivity software. Office suites include:

  • Word 2013: Create professional documents with this word-processing program.
  • Excel 2013: Develop spreadsheets and keep track of data.
  • Outlook 2013: Manage your time and tasks with this program. Outlook integrates your email with calendars and contact information.
  • PowerPoint 2013: Build slideshows and presentations with text effects, sound, and animation.

The Standard, Professional Plus and Mac versions of Office each contain additional programs. See our product descriptions for more details as well as our article series on Office.

For details on how the Microsoft donation program at TechSoup works, we've put together an introductory webinar for you. Microsoft's donation program offers a lot of flexibility in when you can request donations and in the product donations available. And, to make navigating the program easier, we've created the Microsoft Donation Center for organizations that have requested Microsoft donations. After you log in to your TechSoup account, you can track Microsoft requests, see donations received to date, and more.

Manage Your Finances

Intuit QuickBooks Finding the right accounting solution for your nonprofit or library is important. The latest version of QuickBooks, QuickBooks Premier 2014, is in stock at TechSoup. Available in one- and three-user versions for Windows, QuickBooks Premier 2014 assists in paying bills and tracking expenses. The Windows version also includes a nonprofit-specific edition with built-in features for grant tracking, financial reporting, and IRS Form 990 data. Also in this version: save time by instantly generating batch invoices, quickly locating accounts with QuickBooks Search, and sending invoices directly to Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail accounts.

To help you along, we have a great webinar on using QuickBooks at your nonprofit, and a blog series to help you learn to configure QuickBooks for your needs. Remember: before you invest in software, it's always important to consider all options and what programs are the best fit for your organization. TechSoup has other accounting programs available for donation, including AccountEdge.

Keep Files Safe

Protecting your valuable donor, client, and project information is made simple with donated security software from top companies like Symantec and Bitdefender:

Norton AntiVirusBitdefender AntivirusNorton AntiVirus for Windows and Bitdefender Antivirus for Mac guard against botnets, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, rootkits, and spyware and scan all existing, incoming, and outgoing data, including email attachments and cookies. Both block threats from installing themselves and include built-in recovery tools for badly infected computers.

Norton Internet SecurityBitdefender Internet SecurityNorton Internet Security and Bitdefender Internet Security offer all of the features and protection of AntiVirus but add anti-phishing, anti-spam, and anti-intrusion firewalls. Both guard against adware, hackers, unwanted email, and unsafe search results and protect against websites that try to trick you into divulging personal information.

Norton 360Also, check out Norton 360 for an integrated security, PC tune-up, backup and restore, and online storage program.

TechSoup's Keep Systems Secure page is a good place to browse all of TechSoup's security resources and donated products.

Share Documents with Anyone, Anywhere

Acrobat XI Pro Win ESDAdobe's PDF creation software – Acrobat Pro – lets you share secure PDF files between any computer, build PDF portfolios from a variety of sources and formats, and even import live web content. Acrobat Pro for Windows and Mac features a straightforward interface, and allows your organization to scan documents directly into searchable text files, convert any text PDF into a Word document, and create clean and professional forms events, records, surveys, and more. We even have a blog post and a webinar to explain Acrobat's many uses.

Build and Manage Databases

As your organization begins to grow, you're going to start accumulating contact information for constituents, volunteers, and donors. You'll have piles of records relating to your programs. You might also find yourself trying to make sense of files, photographs, and project summaries from your public events. A database program like FileMaker will help your organization track, manage, and analyze information so you can access exactly what you need, when you need it.

FileMaker Pro 12FileMaker Pro helps manage your organization's contacts, events, grants, mailing lists, billing, donor, and volunteer information. More than thirty built-in Starter Solution templates allow even inexperienced users to create databases. More advanced users can create customized tables and fields to control how their data appears. And, each individual entry can hold up to 2 GB of text, documents, images, and video.

Developing a robust database system can be a lot of work up front. However, embarking on this project when your organization is just getting started will make it much simpler than instituting a database system when you're more established. For additional information on FileMaker, check out our informational webinar and our article on FileMaker for nonprofits.

For more resources on managing your nonprofit's data, see our Collect and Manage Data page.

Growing Your Organization

Our goal is to help your nonprofit or library use technology to create a stable base on which to grow organization and better accomplish its mission. One book you might find helpful is Nonprofit Management 101: a good beginner's guide to every facet of running a new nonprofit. This book features a chapter by former TechSoup-er Elliot Harmon, and walks you through topics like fundraising, managing technology, marketing, finances, advocacy, and working with boards.

And don't forget that at TechSoup, you are part of a larger community: if you have questions, our community forums are a great place to ask them. And check out our Resources section for nonprofit-specific articles, webinars and tool kits to help your technology planning needs. We know you're working hard: TechSoup is here to help along the way.