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Comparison Shopping for Nonprofit Software

While many nonprofit organizations do all they can to create a “workable” software system based on what they already have or what has been donated, there comes a time in many NPOs’ lives when it is time to bite the bullet and purchase the right tools for the job. That’s not to say that you can’t keep inventory on an Excel spreadsheet or even throw in a few formulas and call it “bookkeeping.” On the other hand, a successful nonprofit may just outgrow these temporary fixes.

Buying software is a huge commitment for an organization. First of all, the cost alone can be very steep. Not only that, but staff will need to be trained on the new applications, old data will have to be transferred over, and there will likely be upgrades to contend with as new versions are released. By the time so much money and energy has been invested, it is likely that the new software will be sticking around for a very long time.

So, how does a nonprofit know what is a sound choice for their needs? Obviously, it’s a good idea to ask what other nonprofits are using (and if they like it or not). There’s also a website called idealware.org that offers unbiased reviews of the software that is marketed to nonprofits. In addition to reviews, the service offers recommendations, current news, comparisons, and case studies. The site itself is a nonprofit organization, too.

There is considerable free information available at idealware in the “reports and articles section,” as well as a monthly email newsletter, and a blog that offers a wide variety of tips for nonprofit professionals. In addition, the organization offers online seminars on a wide variety of topics. Later this month, for example, they’re doing “Making the Most of Social Networking Sties,” and next month they’re looking at “Choosing a Broadcast Email Tool,” both of which are topics we’ve already touched on here in Tech Tips.

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