Top 10 back office tools and resources for charities

Charities are rapidly making improvements to the back of house side of their business, including their administration, finance and human resources.

This is the key area of digital advancement taking place in the charity sector, according to a report by tech firm The Access Group in its latest State of Digital Maturity in the Not for Profit Sector report.

This found that 45% of charities are focusing on such back office advancements and 28% are focusing on this area as well as digital improvements to front end functions such as service delivery and marketing.

Focusing on back office functions is particularly important in terms of security and data storage, with many already migrating office stored data to the cloud.

The report says that focusing mainly on back office innovation “isn’t necessarily a negative as many back of house advancements will ultimately benefit supporters and users.”

Here we look at some of the key digital tools and resources available for charities to help improve their organisation, manage staff and better organise their finances.


This finance software is aimed at the not for profit sector and can support budgeting, tracking program funding as well as board reporting to support governance.

It can deliver monthly reports for finance officers and help charities track any unspent budgets as well as over spending. In addition, board reports can be batched and scheduled. This software is particularly aimed at ensuring charity leaders and finance personnel are engaged.

Cloud based Calxa accounting software originated in Australia and can be run via major internet browsers.

Sage Group

Newcastle based tech firm Sage produces a range of cloud based products covering accountancy and payroll services. It launched in the UK and Ireland and operates globally across Europe and North America.

Products include Sage Business Cloud Accounting offering online accounting software aimed at small organisations. It is currently offering three months free use.

Other products include Sage Business Cloud People, which handles human resources, including insights to help better manage and engage with staff. This is aimed at charities of between 200 and 5,000 employees.

Another is Sage Intacct, a financial management system, aimed at charities with 20 or more staff.


Breathe is another cloud based back office system with charities in mind. This offers human resources software to manage staff performance reviews, leave, absence, payroll and expenses. This gives charities the chance to centralise staff records, organise data as well as the basics of office management, such as managing sickness and leave and booking holidays. Tasks and reminders can also be set and recruitment processes can also be managed through this platform.

More than 1,500 charities already use Breathe. Currently it is offering a 50% discount to registered charities with up to 250 employees.


Payroll, human resources, accounting as well as training management are among the products aimed at charities available through tech form Iris.

Products include IRIS Charity Formats, which ensures charity’s finances comply with accounting and reporting regulations for charities, including SORP (statement of recommended practice). This features business tax management and automatic mail outs as well as reminders of important dates such as the completion of tax returns.


Cloud accounting software Iplicit is aimed at charity finance teams and includes a voluntary sector specific reporting and dashboard function.

This looks at SORP reporting, income and expenditure, VAT as well as restricted and unrestricted fund reporting. It also offers a range of resources to support charities, including webinars, guides and training videos.

People HR

This human resources management system is aimed at small organisations and includes a range of functions looking at leave, absence available in one organisational chart. People HR is also handy for training new staff and volunteers and tracking tasks. It includes a self-service function for employees, as well as security and mobile functionality.


Zoho’s human resources tool focuses on staff leave and absence data through an easy to use portal where management can search for employees and produce analysis. This is ideal for small charities that are looking for a basic human resources system. It can also connect with a number of apps, including other Zoho tools around recruitment and expenses.


Cezanne HR may appeal to growing and medium sized charities looking for added human resources functionality. This includes adding new offices and countries as well as common human resources functions such as time sheets, vacancies, absence and expenses. It is also useful for analysing performance and the development of talent within a charity.


Despite global travel restrictions due to Covid-19 many charities still need to send staff abroad, particularly those involved in international development. Goodwings is a subscription based business travel service that focuses on carbon off settling. It has more than one million hotels on its list. This is ideal for charities looking to ensure their travel is greener and meets their ethical objectives.


Another travel firm for charity administrators to consider for organising business travel is FlixBus, which offers low cost bus travel around the world. This can save on transport costs especially at a time when many charities are looking to cut expenditure amid the Covid-19 health crisis.

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