I learnt this week that one thousand charities have so far benefited from free software through one of our most successful charity partnerships. The Computer Charity Trust manages a software donations program called CTX on our behalf, which enables charities, of any size, to access free licensed software. Because the scheme hasn't had wide coverage I though it worth a mention here, as I know that many schools get involved in activities with charities, and school employees are often involved in charities in their private lives.

There's an important note at this point: the scheme's small print means that it cannot be used by independent schools, and there are limits to the amount of software any single charity can apply for - The Computer Charity Trust website has more information

This year Changing Faces was one such charity who were able to upgrade their whole system thanks to the scheme.

Each year, around 3,000 children are born with cleft lips, craniofacial conditions or birthmarks. The NHS sees 40,000 people with burns or scalds; a similar number are treated for cancer of the head, neck, mouth, throat and skin. Changing Faces is the UK national charity that supports people who have disfigurements of the face or body – whatever the cause, helping people to develop high self-esteem and self-confidence and have access to the very best health and social services throughout their lives.

Christine Muskett is Head of Operational Support at the organisation, which has 21 members of staff including two based remotely in Scotland and Wales.

“There was little consistency to the software being used across the organisation,” explained Christine.

“We don’t have the budget to consider a routine 3-year upgrade cycle, so had a mix of software versions running, all needing support and troubleshooting.”

Charities often naturally struggle to find resources to invest in back-office efficiencies. Here it was no exception – the upgrade was an opportunity that simply wouldn’t have been available without CTX and Microsoft. "The project wouldn’t have been on the agenda,” notes Christine. “We’d have just had to get by. As it was, we upgraded the whole charity for the money that we might have spent on three, maybe four users. That was an incontrovertible financial argument.”