Free online software

What is currently available for basic book-keeping

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I'm looking at helping out an organisation that is largely voluntarily run on a shoe-string budget. Accordingly it would be helpful to not have a cost for book-keeping software if avoidable. However, the volunteers are widely spread geographically, so an online service all can access without having to circulate a spreadsheet would be preferred. I will handle the year end work with professional software. May fund this last part myself, as I have personal reasons for wanting to support this organisation. 

The market has changed some since I last looked, but I'm currently looking at

If anyone has any experience of the above they can share, especially on any limitations on the free offering, it would be much appreciated. Also open to any other suggestions people might have. Thanks in advance for any help. 

Replies (16)

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By janelm
12th Apr 2024 14:46

I would personally pay for software out of my own pocket rather than use P*****, as it is horribly slow if you have more than about 5 transactions a month, though its impressive they include foreign transaction functionality. I was delighted to discover it a couple of years ago but the two clients who tried it out have both moved to other choices already.

"FreeAgent currently offers a 50% discount on FreeAgent subscription costs for registered charities. Discounts will also be considered on a case-by-case basis for not-for-profit organisations, community interest companies and social enterprises

If your charity, not-for-profit organisation, social enterprise or community interest company has a business current account with NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank, you’ll be eligible for a free subscription, so the charity discount will not be necessary. You’ll be switched to a free subscription once you add your bank account in FreeAgent and enable a bank feed. Find out more about how to switch to a NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank-funded FreeAgent account."

I asked if QB had any discount for charities but they just said my wholesale rate is the best they can do - I have one charity that I recharge at cost on this basis. Looks like Xero have a 25% discount for registered charities.

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Replying to janelm:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
12th Apr 2024 15:02

janelm wrote:

"FreeAgent currently offers a 50% discount on FreeAgent subscription costs for registered charities. Discounts will also be considered on a case-by-case basis for not-for-profit organisations, community interest companies and social enterprises

If your charity, not-for-profit organisation, social enterprise or community interest company has a business current account with NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank, you’ll be eligible for a free subscription, so the charity discount will not be necessary. You’ll be switched to a free subscription once you add your bank account in FreeAgent and enable a bank feed. Find out more about how to switch to a NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland or Ulster Bank-funded FreeAgent account."


Thanks for that. It is a community interest company. Having a discussion about this at the weekend, so I will check who they currently bank with.
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Replying to stepurhan:
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By AdamJones82
12th Apr 2024 16:20

I find Freeagent AWFUL to use

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Replying to AdamJones82:
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By JB101
12th Apr 2024 16:57

At a NatWest presentation a few year's ago (which was really a FreeAgent demo - just badly marketed), we were talked through the process of getting a tax due figure from the software.
Despite the demo data showing many fixed assets, the figure was clearly only 20% x net profit so very wrong. I mentioned this to the man doing the demo and he suggested we told our clients to ignore the figure from their software, if it bothered us!
I got a little provocative and asked if we could get any meaningful data out of the software but he the got so annoyed with me at that stage he stopped answering my questions!

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Replying to JB101:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
12th Apr 2024 23:21

Good to know the limitations of the software. Not planning to rely on it for a tax figure, so I can provide guidance to others on that front.

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John Toon
By John Toon
12th Apr 2024 18:13

Bokio is ok and Zoho is fine, but often doesn't stay free for long as they try and upsell everything they do on their platform!

FreeAgent is free with a Mettle account which may be tricky for a CIC to get. Most of the online players offer a not for profit discount of some description.

There's always Excel (not free but a sunk cost for many)...

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By jantill
12th Apr 2024 23:18

If a speadsheet is all that is needed there is LibreOffice which is free to download and use, and includes spreadsheet, word processor, presentation, drawing and other packages. The user can choose to make files Microsoft Office compatible.

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By paulwakefield1
18th Apr 2024 09:33

If you are looking for a spreadsheet solution then Google Sheets would be worth a look as it is geared to an online multiuser solution. Comes as part of Google Workspace which may well offer other useful software for the organisation. I believe it is free for not for profit enterprises.

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By sallyrichardson
18th Apr 2024 09:40

We use FreeAgent as our preferred software over QBs and Xero. Have 160 clients on it. It has come a long way in the last few years, is extremely quick to use and reliable, and pretty easy to adapt for CICs or charities. Fantastic customer support. With Mettle it is free. The Sole Trader Version - that you could use and adapt for a charity - is very cheap too -£19+VAT per month first 6 months half price.

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Replying to sallyrichardson:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
18th Apr 2024 09:55

I haven't used FreeAgent a great deal (last few years of work have been Xero practices) but what I have seen of it was positive. I have not been impressed with the online offerings of either Quickbooks or Sage. Neither have handled the transition from a desktop product well in my opinion.

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Replying to sallyrichardson:
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By chrisowen
18th Apr 2024 11:31

I have just started using FreeAgent for our charity, replacing an Excel system.
Set up took up a bit of time, but once you have the bank feed set up, it works like a dream. I even get an email when there's a new bank transaction.
The only downside at the moment is getting reports in the formats I need, the export-csv function opens by default in Numbers, which I can't use easily.

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Replying to chrisowen:
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By sallyrichardson
19th Apr 2024 11:54

It opening csv files in Numbers is a setting on your computer - it's nothing to do with FreeAgent. You need to change the default program your PC uses for csv files. We open them in Excel.

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Pile of Stones
By Beach Accountancy
18th Apr 2024 10:41

Quickfile, if there are only a few transactions (<600) per year. Otherwise £72 a year. Bank feeds are also chargeable (£18 a year)

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Replying to Beach Accountancy:
Stepurhan
By stepurhan
18th Apr 2024 11:09

Not heard of that one. Will check it out.

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By Yoyo29
19th Apr 2024 08:28

Brightbook is completely free and UK based (their data center is UK based and compliant with UK data protection regulations), though you'll have to get used to the brightly coloured website. https://mybrightbook.com/

Wave is another free one to consider but they're based in North America . https://www.waveapps.com/

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By tom123
19th Apr 2024 08:56

I used Wave, until it went pay only.
Then use Bokio, until it also went pay only.
Couldn't face the idea of another system doing that - so, in the end, subscribed to VT.

These were for tiny home based sidelines (commercial property rental).

I use a paid version of Bokio for a charity that I am chair of. It works fine, and of course our auditors can get read only access etc.

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