For nonprofits, it may be time to embrace the cloud

Even for the not-so-tech savvy, the cloud is a phrase that most computer users will likely recognize. In fact, chances are that many in the business and nonprofit sectors are already using cloud-based technologies and they aren't even aware of the fact. Applications such as Gmail and Dropbox utilize software-as-a-service capabilities in their everyday functionality. 

Years ago - before the cloud had become a market trend - websites were an expensive investment for any organization. Multiple functions had to be incorporated into a host site, including platforms for various nonprofit necessities such as petitions, an online donation form and calendars, among other things. A robust website doesn't have to be a massive expense anymore, as more nonprofits are beginning to embrace cloud-based software to store documents and communicate within the organization. 

Increase output and visibility
Cloud-based technologies are continually being adopted across all industries because of their ability to increase operational output and improve organizational agility. The number of functionalities that nonprofits can benefit from using cloud systems are plentiful, according to NonProfit Tech for Good. For instance: 

  • Shared calendars: Volunteers can now access a common calendar at almost any time provided they have the proper means to do so. No longer will organizations have to rely on everyone being on the same page; rather, nonprofits can update a communal schedule and keep volunteers and all other employees up to date in real-time.
  • Share documents: Similar to a shared calendar, organizations can implement tools like Google Docs or Dropbox that enable peer-to-peer sharing. Both SaaS programs are integrated cloud storage programs that allow anyone within a specific organization - given they have the required login credentials - to access information uploaded to the community server. For example, if a charity has a document that it would like employees to have access to at all times, they can post it on a cloud-based server and whenever someone needs to access it, the information will always be there.
  • Petition capabilities: For the more civic-minded nonprofits, there are tools that allow organizations to collect signatures using cloud-based software, hence streamlining the process for both the charity and those signing the e-document. 

Overall, organizations are now taking more of a business approach when it comes to operations, industry website Tech Target says. Some charities are using cloud-based customer relationship management modules to better monitor donor activity and increase internal visibility as well. Certain payment processors also integrate their donation software with CRM systems for a streamlined collection effort on the nonprofit's end.

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