Buying discounted and donated technology

Charities should rarely pay full retail prices for new hardware and software. Here's where to get donated and discounted products....

Registered charities will rarely pay full price for software, but instead should make use of the donations and discounts that are available on products for charities and educational organisations.  Accessing these donated and discounted prices generally requires evidence of registration with the Charity Commission for England & Wales.  

Social care providers with charitable status, such as industrial and provident societies, may be treated slightly differently and will need to check their eligibility with those providing the donation or discount.

In other articles we talked about technology planning and budgeting.  The PC Pro magazine A-list is a useful reference guide for comparing models and retail prices against donated and discounted products. 

Donations and discounts

tt-exchange - the Technology Trust provides access to donated software, cloud-based services and network hardware from Microsoft, Symantec, Adobe, Cisco and more. Technology Trust charges a small fee for processing donations as each donor has its own donation criteria which need to be adhered to before the donation can be made. Licences for servers, Windows 7, Office 2010, and desktop publishing software represent very good value.

Pugh - provide access to discounted software for charities and educational institutions.  Whilst, not as low cost as the tt-exchange donation programme, Pugh is a useful alternative and has a more extensive catalogue. Products such as Dragon Naturally Speaking (voice recognition software), Net Nanny (web filtering) are two products social care providers may find useful.

Phoenix - provide access to a wide range of discounted products for charities, public sector and educational institutions.  Be sure to ask for charity pricing.

CareTower - specialises in licensing security products such as Symantec, Kaspersky, Sophos, SonicWall, Watchguard and many more.

Go directly to the source

Many suppliers offer their own discounts directly to charities.  There are far too many to mention, so these are some of the best known.

Microsoft Office 365 - is Microsoft's online version of its office suite, with hosted email, calendar, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and so forth.

Google Apps - is Google's own integrated suite of office tools for managing email, calendar, documents, spreadsheets and file storage.

Salesforce - a web based database offering 10 donated licences to registered charities via its foundation.

Dell Computers - offers charity and public sector pricing on a range of hardware.

Free and open source software

It's also worth remembering there are very well reviewed free and open source alternatives to popular software titles. Some of the most well known include....

LibreOffice - a free and open source alternative for Windows and Mac computers, including programmes for creating and editing documents, spreadsheets, presentations, databases and more.

Audacity - free and open source audio recording and editing.

WordPress - the world's most popular content management system for websites.

A comprehensive list of free and open source software can be found on the  Free Software Foundation website.  

There are often other open source equivalents to many proprietary software titles used by organisations for office tasks, finance, graphics editing and web browsing. The OSAlt website provides a handy look-up list comparing the two types of program for each task with open source alternatives. The Open Source Windows website lists the main open source programs available that will run on a Windows PC or Mac OSX computer.

Recycled and refurbished computers

If you really want to stretch your budget, recycled and refurbished computers are an excellent way to get well specified machines at low prices.  With a refurbished/recycled machine, you should expect an older computer that has been upgraded to comfortably run Windows 7 and Office 2010. Suppliers we know of include:

Happus.eu - offers deals on PCs from £99 and Laptops from £149. The computers come with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office and include unlimited telephone support and 12 months warranty. Accessible keyboards, tablet devices, broadband and pay as you go mobile phone deals are also offered.

Computer Recyclers UK - offer similar deals to Happus.

Computers 4 Carers - this support network in Norwich has been providing refurbished computers, laptops and now tablet PCs for unpaid carers since 2002. They set up the service to give carers a new way to communicate with each other through the internet even though they may not be able to leave their home because of providing the vital caring support their loved one needs. 

Further reading

Article: Strategy for buying ICT

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