Free inventory software for nonprofits?
July 3, 2011 9:22 AM   Subscribe

Free materials tracking/inventory software specifically for nonprofits rather than businesses: does such a thing exist?

I'm spending the summer working for a major membership-based advocacy organization in the U.S. The campaign I am working on has staff spread across three of the organization's offices nationwide. We have a sizable collections of reports and other written materials, t-shirts, buttons, stickers, postcards (for writing your representatives or whoever), etc. that we use in our work, and we often ship this stuff to local member groups for their use. We currently aren't tracking the movements of our materials between offices or from offices to activists in any way (although I did at least inventory the materials currently in the office where I'm working), and my supervisor would like this to change. Oh and also we are really cheap and don't want to spend money on it if possible.
I've looked around for free inventory software, and there are some options, but it's all pretty geared toward businesses. Since we aren't going to be selling our stuff, sending invoices, etc., I'm not sure those are really going to give us what we need.
I would also accept advice on how to do this with Excel if there is really truly no other option - Excel seems sort of unwieldy for this to me, though...? I am not a super tech-savvy person (embarrassingly) so explain slowly. Thanks!
posted by naoko to Computers & Internet (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unfortunately, you're not going to find much that's useful in terms of free software for this purpose. Free software focuses on utilities, tools, server and operating system software, and other low-level software for ultra-geeks. The best option, in my opinion, would be to find a volunteer willing to create a Microsoft Access-based system for you. I dislike Access in general, but this is essentially what it was intended for.
posted by sonic meat machine at 9:48 AM on July 3, 2011

NGO in a Box might have what you're looking for. Otherwise, yeah, a simple Excel spreadsheet would work. Just list the contents of the office you want to track, and when you want to transfer some, just list either the incoming or outgoing amount with a note about where it's going.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 10:02 AM on July 3, 2011

At one non-profit I worked at, Apple donated all the hardware when it first started up, and I think there was also a program that gave us x dollars worth of hardware and (Apple/Claris) software a year once in a while.

I wasn't involved in setting up the arrangement, but I believe it came out of Apple's charitable giving department. I would look to see if any of the software companies you are considering support such a program. Depending on how large the organization you work for is, there may be a person or department (ie., development) that knows which channels to go through and how to navigate the process.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:57 AM on July 3, 2011

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