Working with non-profit organizations all around the world, we here at CGNET have a unique look at how cloud computing is changing the non-profit sectors all over the globe. Cloud computing, is changing communication, collaboration, productivity, and all areas of non-profits.
Will cloud computing save the non-profit sector?
Steve Shattuck thinks so and has a persuasive article on just this topic.
Photo credit: Sentechnologies.com
There’s a lot to be excited about in the nonprofit sector today. New technologies are allowing charities to reach current and potential donors at a rate and ease never seen before.
Software has always been a thorn in the side of charities. From basic office utilities to marketing automation to donor management software, costs and other technological barriers are keeping organizations that do social good years behind their corporate brethren.
Luckily, the age of cloud computing might also be a golden age for the third sector. Here’s why:
Higher Product Diversity
Cloud computing has enabled a new generation of startups to enter the marketplace, leading to a higher diversity of products with new and exciting features. Nonprofits can now choose lightweight, innovative software that fits their needs, rather than having to settle for the status quo.
Because most SaaS (software as a service) products operate on a pay-as-you-go model (usually a monthly or yearly fee), nonprofits don’t have to shell out a huge amount of cash to get the software they need. Because software providers don’t have to worry about packaging, shipping and merchant costs associated with a physical product, their costs overall are lower—and are able to pass that savings on to the customer and/or invest it in research and development.
With software hosted on the cloud, any employee at the organization can access it, as opposed to installed software that only resides on one machine. This level of accessibility is particularly key for nonprofits, especially in the case of donor management software. Ideally, all fundraisers
within the organization should be using the CRM regularly, if not daily. Cloud-based software facilitates this.
With locally installed software, versioning is a big issue. When all users and customers are using one version of the product, all users have access to the same (basic) features, allowing for more feedback and bug reporting. Furthermore, support teams no longer have to decipher which version is being used and tailor their instructions to it. Updates happen in the background and are the responsibility of the provider, not the user.
While it’s true that, by using a cloud-based SaaS, you are putting your data into the hands of a third party, that data is more secure than it would be if it were living on one physical machine in the nonprofit’s office—or worse—still being held on paper documents or note cards. While the possibilities of hacking or other security breaches do exist, they pale in comparison to the dangers of an office fire, flooding, theft or accidental misplacement.
Insights and Analytics Through Integrations
Through APIs (application programming interfaces), cloud-based software programs can easily integrate, allowing for enhanced functionality and additional insights. For example, a social media monitoring program could interface directly with a nonprofit’s donor database, allowing for additional donor interactions to be logged and stored.
Cloud computing has revolutionized many industries, but its greatest impact may be on the nonprofit sector in the form of reduced overhead and increased productivity. Do you work at a nonprofit? What cloud-based software have you implemented in the last few years?