As a charity, fund-raising is front and centre. Donations are the lifeblood that keeps the engines running and the valuable services they support available to those who need them.

Being a charity gives you some tax breaks and one is that, for every penny you raise, the tax-man will give you an additional 25% reclaimed from the tax contribution of the taxpayer who made the donation.

The challenge is keeping track of it all. 

There isn’t some magical telepathic individual at HMRC who knows who has donated what and can track them down to apply the Gift-Aid. It’s down to each charity to do that. Then the request for gift aid has to be submitted to HMRC.

If you have charity shops, every donation of clothes isn’t really a donation!  In reality, people are giving you their bits and pieces to sell on their behalf! They need to sign up for Gift-Aid – but, even if they do, you have to notify every donor when their items sell and advise them of the amount of money their ‘donation’ totals. 

Every transaction must be assigned to the donor and that can be labour intensive, especially if it then has to be submitted to a central place for integrating into the submission for HMRC. 

Even donations given in cash require a form to be completed for gift aid to be claimed. The revenue from collection buckets and tins isn’t eligible and there are all kinds of rules about the money raised by people and companies doing sponsored activities to generate funds. If any donor gets to benefit in any form from their donation – it doesn’t count for gift aid.

It may seem straightforward – get the donation, ask a donor to complete the gift aid form, submit details to HMRC. But creating the information in the right format can be even more of a challenge. Submissions must be made digitally and that means the submission has to match the required HMRC format.

HMRC offer a downloadable ‘template’, ostensibly to ensure you have your data in the right format to upload. However, it’s not always as simple as that. Many charities find that they upload their templated data only to have it rejected. The reason for the rejection will be given, but it still means that all the data may need to be reformatted.

The frustration of putting all this data together and successfully submitting it means it’s often one of those jobs that keeps getting put on the back burner. In other words – it doesn’t get done consistently.

As Gift-Aid can also be claimed by Community Amateur Sports Clubs, often run by a very few staff and a few enthusiastic volunteers, this job frequently falls through the cracks, it’s too complicated.

You may wonder if it’s worth bothering. Is it worth the cost of someone’s time to reclaim the Gift-Aid due? The secret is in having a system that is easy to follow and everyone uses – so part of the answer may be in creating this and training everyone to use it.

The other part of the answer is to find a way to reduce the time spent on it. That might be solved with Gift-Aider. It’s a software program that collates all the data, either manually input or uploaded on a CSV file and organises it into the format that HMRC accepts – and then submits it.

If your charity or sports club doesn’t have the time or manpower to keep up-to-date with Gift-Aid submissions, it could go a long way to solving that problem – and giving your funds a boost too.

Contact us today to find out more about the Gift Aider on or 020 7100 6010.

If your business involves communication with customers, a CRM system (or customer relationship management system) is bound to be vital in reaching your goals. With the ability to manage all communications and details related to both existing and potential customers, there are loads of reasons why a CRM system is important for your business.

Learn about your customers

A CRM system will enable you to learn all about your customers, which is invaluable when it comes to knowing how to communicate with them in the future. For example, the system will record each customer’s purchase history, so you can spot patterns in what they buy and how often they make a purchase. You can use this information to decide which promotions or new product details to send to them, as you’ll know exactly what they’re interested in and how best to win more business from them.

In addition to this, you’ll be able to use your CRM system to see when a customer has opened an email from your company, and if they have clicked on any links. This will also assist in informing you about which communications are of interest to them and will help you to target these efficiently in the future.

Keep detailed customer records

CRM systems have the functionality to store all details about a customer, including any communication that they have had with you. This can really help with customer service, as if someone calls and relays information or an issue to someone, and then calls again further down the line and speaks to a different employee, all of their details will be on hand so they won’t need to repeat themselves. This will prevent the customer from getting frustrated and will save time and money as the call will be shorter, freeing up time for the employee to move onto something else.

Streamline your business processes

Due to being able to organise customer details effectively, you’ll find that there are a number of processes that can be streamlined by your CRM system, saving valuable time and money. For example, many admin tasks can be automated so that no-one in your workforce has to spend time doing them, and this can work across a number of areas, including marketing, data, and analytics.

Perhaps one of the best processes to streamline is the sales process, as this is potentially what brings in the most money. A CRM system has the capability to organise customers by conversion probability, so that time isn’t wasted on unsuccessful calls, and priority can be given to those who are most likely to make a purchase. It can also send prompts to employees about when follow-up calls need to be made so that those all-important leads aren’t left to go cold, and different types of calls can be assigned to the most relevant member of your team too, making for a completely efficient process.

Create better in-house communication

Sometimes it can be that different departments within a business are a little bit disjointed, and communication may not flow as well as you’d like it to. This can result in incorrect information being passed on, or details being changed between teams, which could then lead to mistakes and issues that impact on customers and profitability. By using a CRM system, you can ensure that every member of your workforce has access to the same information at all times, so nothing will get lost during communications between each other. This means that different teams can access the details that are relevant to them and can use these to drive groups of customers towards sales and will have access to everything from emails and phone call notes to appointments added to calendars.

Improve data and reporting

Accurate data and reporting are key within a business, as these factors are what you can use to understand your customers and find out what will encourage them to make a purchase. As all details are saved within a CRM from across the company, the system can analyse all of your data as a whole and can create reports which are easy to digest and include the information that is important to you and the department that you work in.

Now that you know how important a CRM system is for your business, it’s time to start looking at how you can implement one into your own company and start getting excited about all of the benefits associated with this.

When it comes to running a successful business, finding ways to save both time and money can help you to reach your goals, and make a fantastic profit. However, when running a company itself uses so many of your resources, it can be difficult to find the opportunity to consider what changes could be made.

Here, we share some great ways to save time and money when running a business which we hope you can use to help you to hit your targets.

Save money on advertising

A lot of businesses spend a large amount of their budget on advertising, but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessary. For example, instead of splashing the cash on a number of Google Ad campaigns, you could try to optimise your website for organic search instead. By creating well written, engaging, and informative content for your company’s website, you can hit the top of the search rankings without spending a penny. Plus, organic search results tend to be more appealing to consumers than paid ads anyway, so you could benefit from some really pivotal web traffic increases.

Another way to get your business in front of customers without spending is by putting yourself out there as an industry expert. By using the passion that you have for the sector that you work in, you can find publications, websites, and social channels that will happily quote you on what you have to say about what is happening in your industry. This could lead to backlinks from high-quality websites, mentions in popular publications or a place in your target market’s social media feeds.

Invest in bespoke software

Investing in bespoke software that fits your business needs is one of the best ways to save time and money. Although software that you buy straight off the shelf can be cheaper, in the long run, you’ll end up spending money on unnecessary updates and maintenance that won’t benefit you at all. Through choosing bespoke software, you can ensure that it meets all of your business requirements and makes your processes simpler. This means less paperwork and admin for you and your employees, resulting in more time to get on with your day-to-day tasks.

Another way that bespoke software can save your company money is that you only need to pay for the features that you require. If you don’t think that it’ll make you or your employees more efficient, you don’t have to include it in your package. In addition to this, the people within your business will experience higher morale due to being provided with software that helps them to do their jobs more effectively. Bespoke software is always created to be intuitive and user-friendly, so you don’t need to worry about employees wasting time trying to work out how to use it, and can simply enjoy the rewards created from a happier workforce.

Be environmentally friendly

Running an environmentally friendly business won’t only help the planet, but can save your company money too. By encouraging employees to switch off their computers at the end of the day, making sure that all printers are set to print both sides, ensuring that excess water isn’t used when cleaning or washing up, and finding any other possible way to reduce energy use, you will find that you end up spending less on both electricity bills and other resources.

You’ll also find that changing any paper-based processes within your business to electronic processes will save money on the amount of paper you’re buying, and will probably enable your workforce to complete these processes quicker too. Anything that you can do to make processes easier for employees will mean that they have more time to spend on the tasks that are making your company money. Innovative bespoke software can help you to achieve this, as all of your projects and processes can be streamlined and organised electronically. This also means that you’ll be less likely to miss or lose details as the process is carried out, which can help to avoid disputes or confusion further down the line.

These ways to save time and money when running a business are very easy to put into practice, and you’ll start seeing the benefits within no time at all. If you choose to invest in bespoke software for your company, please do contact us to discuss your requirements, we’d be happy to use our experience to help you.

Management Software Display

Every good business knows that the key to achieving growth is through the speed and quality with which your customer service delivers, especially when you own a membership-based organisation.

It’s important to listen to your members and hear from them directly what exactly it is they are looking for. Luckily, we live in an era where technology is so intertwined with our day-to-day lives, making it easier, more than ever, to get in touch with your members, and hear their answers firsthand. It’s no exaggeration to say that they key to succeeding as a business is literally right in the palm of your hands.

You know for a fact that organising member subscriptions and scheduling events can be tiring. All of these are part of membership management and it can really take up all your time, making it difficult, sometimes even impossible, to attend to other core operations. But that’s precisely what modern technology is for—making life more efficient and convenient for you.

Here’s how integrating management software can help you grow your business:

Easy Onboarding

Onboarding is, naturally, a crucial step in ensuring that you won’t go out of business. However, onboarding can be a troublesome task, given that there’s just so much to do – reaching out to people, convincing them of the rewards and bonuses that your business can offer, showing them around the system, and so on and so forth. 

So if you are looking for ways to make onboarding a little less stressful software like this is the way forward. With good technology, it only takes a few clicks to set up an account for your new members, giving them an interactive platform where they can easily review their perks and benefits, and be updated on any rewards and gift programs, promos and discounts, and other happenings in your business.

Streamlined Reporting and Analytics

Another thing most subscription-based businesses face is the challenge of reporting and managing analytics. At times, this leaves you with an additional cost just to get consistent status reports.

With a management software, preparing and assessing these reports will no longer be a problem. They are designed to handle big data and can quickly and accurately sort through numerous reports and analytics. You can rest easy knowing that the information you get is not only as precise as possible, but also easily readable and interpreted even if you’re not an analytics expert.

Organised Database

Stemming from the previous point, you would also want to keep your database updated and add, edit and delete entries as often as necessary. Now, you can always choose the traditional way of updating a database, but there is a high chance for human error and it can be a very time-consuming process.

What you need is a good management software that lets you add, edit and delete entries accurately and with ease. This software should automate most of your business processes without jeopardising its quality.

Efficient Communication

A management software program should also ease your communication process, as this is crucial to sustaining your business. We’re not only talking about communication within the business, but also with your members.

The tools you use should be accessible to everyone that needs to be on-board, but still secure enough that no crucial information is compromised. Additionally, they should be efficient and ensure you are connected and reachable by your audience at all times, something that is particularly important for the modern organisation.

This is a quote that we used in out original brochure, it was true then, it’s true now.

“IT (information technology) is both the cause of problems and the source of solutions, but is not the magic touchstone. Its implementation is by people, its utilisation is by people, the ultimate arbiters of success or failure, our customers, are people…Indeed. I would suggest that the true test of successful implementation of IT…will be when we do not notice it is there, because it will have enhanced the quality of human relationships so as to make IT invisible.”

John Quinton, Chairman, Barclays Bank PLC
Presidential Address
The Chartered Institute of Bankers, December 1989

The Ritterman Building

The Ritterman Building
The Ritterman

I was recently invited to have a gander at the new £18m Ritterman Building at Middlesex University which provides astate-of-the-art teaching facility for technology and design.

Environmental sustainability is at the heart of the Ritterman building as part of the University’s commitment in reducing our environmental impact. Sustainable features include solar panels, a bio-diverse green living roof and four living walls that cover 110 square meters. The living wall is the biggest in Barnet and has over 3,500 evergreen plants designed to flower at different times of the year to create interest and encourage wildlife.

Living Wall
The living wall at The Ritterman Building

While the building is impressive in itself is impressive, what goes on inside is amazing as I saw when I was shown around by Franco Raimondi and Zara Newman.

Have a look at some of the things you’ll see there:

Meeting Pepper

3d pottery
3d Pottery

roller coaster icon
roller coaster


Pepper Robot

Pepper Robot

Meet Pepper. Pepper as you can see is a robot and robotics is a major element in technology education at Middlesex University. Having Pepper, along with Nao and Baxter, allows students to get to grips with programming robots which is a key future skill.

Although these 3 are the popular image of a robot most robot’s are designed for specific purposes so don’t have quite the humanistic appearance they do. Designed to accomplish specific tasks they can vary considerably.


The students start with an Arduino based robot called Myrtle. More technically know as The MIddlesex Robotic plaTfOrm (MIRTO). This provides the framework for developing increasing complexity in robotics, which is the basis  for the more advanced work that follows. If you want to know more about MIRTO take a look at Franco Raimondi’s Introduction and Version 3 update articles.

Smart Factory Lab 2
Smart Factory Lab

Of course not all robots move around and the facilities in the Middlesex robotics and haptics lab are enviable featuring over 100 workstations with equipment and software including CAD/CAM equipment, an integrated flexible manufacturing system, state of the art automation devices, LabView and Multisim tools as well as associated hardware such as NI-ELVIS training equipment and Compact Rio control systems.

Baxter in action
Baxter in action

We have always been impressed with the work that we see coming out of Middlesex through our sponsorship of the First Year Technology prize. There have been some excellent entries (take a look at last year’s winners) and check more info here.

Ritterman Building

3d pottery
3d Pottery

roller coaster icon
roller coaster

You know that you are only moving a few centimetres at most but you really, really do want to hold on! This is project in the basement (along with some other interesting stuff) which links up an Oculus Rift 3d headset with a seat from a flight simulator. With a clever bit of programming you really feel you are on a roller coaster.

And here I am trying to look like I know it’s hardly moving – but really feeling like I’m on the real thing!
me trying to look like I know it's hardly moving - but really feeling like I'm on the real thing!





Ritterman Building

3d pottery
3d Pottery


Tweets that are printing a pot

When you enter the Ritterman Building the first thing you are likely to see is the 3d pot maker. This is an excellent example of integrating different technologies . While the pot is created using the 3d printer the shape of the pot is governed by the number of tweets that mention Middlesex University – so an intense period can be seen as a bump on the pot.


Of course it is not just tweets that can be used, music is another medium that was used to create a pot for Dame Janet Ritterman to celebrate the buildings opening.

3d Pot Wireframe 2
wire frame

Top down view
Top down view

printing a pot







Ritterman Building


roller coaster icon
roller coaster

Pixel Bitcoin ConceptBitcoin seems to be making the headlines again with the the exchange rate of nearly $1500:1BTC *.Additionally there has been a lot published on Blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin- but I’ll cover that in another blog. Having been asked a few times about how to buy Bitcoin I thought I’d give you a quick overview.

First of all you will need a Bitcoin wallet to store your stash. The easiest way to get started is to use a hosted wallet such as Coinbase* or

This will store your Bitcoins and have facilities to receive and pay out.

Now you need to get some Bitcoins to put in your wallet.

Buying Bitcoin

The quickest way is to buy some. If you have a or Coinbase* wallet you can do this after logging in and you can pay for them either by credit card or bank transfer. Alternatively, you can but from Local Bitcoins – this is a local marketplace for buyers and sellers of Bitcoin.

Mining Bitcoin

This is the traditional way of getting your hands on Bitcoin. The simplest way is to use a consortium such as Genesis Mining. Here you can buy a share of the mining operations and as soon as you have accrued a certain amount it is paid straight to your wallet. When you buy enter this code fl4R29 and you’ll get a 3% discount. You can also mine other coins such as Ether and Darkcoin.

How about some Bitcoin for free?

You will find many places that will offer to make you a fortune in Bitcoin – the majority are scams, the old adage ‘if it looks too good to be true, then it is’ is well worth remembering. But there are some sites that are genuine, although none will make your fortune – they will make you a few pence a week if you are persistent enough – but it’s a fun way to put your toe in the water. Here are a couple we have tried and confirmed that they do do what they say on the tin:

Moon Bitcoin : You can claim some Satoshi (1 Satoshi = 0.00000001 BTC) every 5 minutes. It increases while you don’t claim, but the rate decreases the longer you leave it. They make their money from adverts, so there are lots of adverts on the site. You also have to do a Google Captcha each time you claim – that can get decidedly irritating, but we can see why they do it. How rich will you get? Let’s say you are really keen and claim every 5 minutes for about 10 hours a day – you’ll pick up around 3,000 Satoshi a day + bonuses (see below), so lets say 3,500 or 24,500 a week … and that is worth about £0.21 ($0.26) at today’s exchange rate.

This can increase through bonuses that are applied – there is the daily loyalty bonus: you 1% extra for every consecutive day that you make a claim up to 100% – but miss a day and that goes back to the start. The referral bonus, for introducing another customer; an Offer bonus for taking part in surveys or buying something; and a Mystery bonus which is a random bonus added to each claim.

Free Bitcoin : this one is a bit more fun. Here you get to roll the ‘dice’ (which you can do every hour) and the value you roll will determine how many satoshi you win. The number of satoshi is linked to the dollar value of Bitcoin so it does fluctuate (a good way to keep an eye on the BTC exchange rate). The largest prize is worth $200 and the smaller prizes are a fixed percentage of that. On top of this every time you roll get tickets in the weekly lottery and reward points you can trade for bonuses. On top of this you can bet your winnings on the Hi-Lo game where you can choose the odds you play for. They publish the code they use so you can see it’s fair.

Please note that this is for information only and not a recommendation to buy or sell Bitcoin.

* May 3, 2017 16:27 $1481.00 CoinBase
* if you use this link we will both get $10 worth of digital coins when you have bought $100 worth