Useful free software for your community organisation
Every community group should make the most of the good-quality free and cheap computer software available.
Reducing your IT costs without compromising on quality means you will have more money to spend on other parts of your mission and operations.
Our Community has compiled a list of free or very cheap software that can be used by community groups. We've also listed some sector-specific commercial software packages (these cost money) that your group might be interested in investigating further.
- Ubuntu Linux - The most popular free operating system. Used to run desktops and servers.
- Fedora - A poster child for free open-source Linux operating systems.
- Google's Chromium - Chromium is a little complicated but a very fast web operating system.
- PC-BSD - A complete desktop operating system that doesn't require a lot of protection against viruses and spyware.
- Haiku - A user-friendly open-source operating system aimed at the personal computing market.
- Apache Open Office - The most famous and well-rounded suite; generally considered the free alternative to Microsoft Office.
- WPS Office Free - Almost identical to Microsoft Office 2003. Offers Writer, Spreadsheet and Presentation.
- Softmaker FreeOffice - A "light" version of Softmaker Office 2012.
- Google Docs - Google Docs users can create and edit documents, spreadsheets and presentations online and store them in the cloud via Google Drive.
- SSuite Office - Excalibur Release - A Microsoft Office alternative, with WordGraph and Accel.
- Libre Office - A powerful office suite offering Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, Math and Charts.
- LyX - LyX is a free document processor that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux/Unix.
- Serif PagePlus SE - Provides a range of templates which are easy to use and edit.
- Scribus - An open-source program that provides professional publishing features on a user-friendly interface.
- Fatpaint - A free online graphic design program, desktop publishing system and image editor.
- SketchUp - 3D modelling software that is easy and intuitive. Available on Windows and Mac.
- Inkspace - A free open-source vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator. Available on Windows, Mac and Linus.
Graphics and photos
- Gimp - Gimp is the most widely used free image manipulation and editing software.
- Serif Photo Plus SE - Serif Photo Plus SE provides photo editing features that are easy to use.
- Paint.NET - Free image and photo editing software that is intuitive and easy to use. Only available on Windows.
- Picassa - Google's graphics and photo software.
- VCW VicMan's Photo Editor - A versatile image editor.
- Photo Filtre - A free image editor that is a reasonable alternative to the expensive Photoshop. Only available on Windows.
A number of image generator applications are featured on this page
of the Our Community website.
- Primo PDF - The most popular PDF creator, allowing conversion to and from PDF formats. Available on Windows, Mac and iOS.
- PDF Forge's PDF Creator - Allows you to convert documents to PDF, JPG, PNG and more. Only available on Windows.
- Dora PDF Writer - Dora allows you to change most file types into PDFs. Runs on Windows and Mac.
- Nitro PDF Reader - A PDF reader and creator, capable of converting around 300 different file formats to PDF.
Document reader and viewer software
- Outlook.com - Outlook.com is a gateway to Microsoft's email program.
- Gmail - Google's email program. Gmail is intuitive, efficient and easy to use and has more than enough storage for anybody. It also has a very good spam blocker.
- Thunderbird Email - Thunderbird Email is a free email application that's easy to set up and customise.
Cloud computing allows you to store and access data and programs over the Internet instead of on your hard drive. All the following are good options for the secure online sharing and storage of files, data and programs:
Social media management tools
- Tweetdeck- Tweetdeck is an online tool for Twitter that helps you schedule, post and manage your Twitter content.
- Google Analytics - Google Analytics is a great source of social media analytics for your website.
- GrabInBox - GrabInBox allows you to manage multiple Facebook profiles and pages, and Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.
Free web browsers
- Google Chrome - Google Chrome is a web browser designed and built by Google.
- Firefox - Firefox is an independent web browser.
- Opera - Opera is a web browser available for desktops, mobiles and tablets.
- Safari - A web browser created by Apple, available on Mac and Windows systems.
- EasyHTML - A freeware HTML editor.
- NVU - A free HTML editor.
- Joomla - Joomla is an open-source website building and content management system.
- Drupal - Drupal is a website building and content management system.
- Weebly - Weebly offers a drag-and-drop-style format for building a website.
- Wix - Wix offers hundreds of free fully customisable HTML5 templates to build your website.
Antivirus and asscociated software
- Ad-Aware Free Antivirus+ - Combines anti-spyware and powerful anti-virus software. Only available on Windows.
- AVG Anti-Virus FREE 2015 - Provides very good protection from viruses and malware clean-up.
- Avira - Avira is a comprehensive antivirus and malware detection software system. Available on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS.
- Malwarebytes Anti-Malware - Probably the best free removal-only antivirus tool.
- Agnitum Security Suite - Provides anti-virus, personal firewall and web content blocking functionality in one product. Only available on Windows.
- ZoneAlarm Free Antivirus & Firewall 2015 - All-in-one security that combines anti-virus software and two-way firewall protection. Only available on Windows.
Computer cleaners aim to keep your machine humming along by getting rid of unwanted or unnecessary files. Two top-notch free computer cleaners are:
- CCleaner - A well-designed system maintenance utility and clean-up program. Runs on Windows and Mac.
- SlimWare Utilities SlimCleaner - SlimCleaner is a free highly effective PC cleaner with many worthwhile functions.
Even with the best back-up procedures and systems in place, anyone can mistakenly delete an important file. If you do, you will need to use a file recovery program to rescue it. Try this free one.
- Recuva - Only available on Windows.
FTP (file transfer) packages
Programs that put your HTML pages on the web:
- FileZilla Client - FileZilla is a fast and reliable cross-platform FTP, FTPS and SFTP.
- Fetch - Fetch is an easy-to-use, reliable and full-featured file transfer client. Only available on Mac.
- Juice - Allows you to schedule, capture and listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere. Available on Windows and Mac.
- jPodder - Automatically downloads and transfers audio files from websites you subscribe to via your media/audio player.
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project by raising small amounts of money from a large number of people, usually on the Internet.
- Pozible - Pozible is a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals and organisations to raise funds by presenting their ideas to an online audience who can then pledge to a particular cause or idea.
Most commercial software packages aimed at fundraisers are specialist database packages focused on donor relations management. They tend to be powerful, expensive ($500-$20,000), complex, and American or British. And many of the things they do can be achieved with free or cheaper
software - though this will probably involve more work, more
difficulty, and more time.
Available software includes:
Fundraising databases include:
Note - some of these, while themselves free, are in fact
modules that work with commercial databases such as MS Access and
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