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In this article, we examine a few ways in which NFPs can use the power of cloud computing to survive in the current market and give themselves an edge over the competition.
By Rushad Billimoria, Information Systems Manager: Not-for-Profits & Aged Care
Cloud technology is revolutionising the way non-profits operate. For an NFP to function effectively, a diverse array of people – from board members to stakeholders and grant writers – need to communicate and collaborate effectively. The cloud makes this possible by introducing a range of innovative and productivity-enhancing applications that can help reduce costs, manage growth, ensure compliance and advance the organisation’s cause. NFPs today face unprecedented challenges and those that fail to embrace technology and innovation will be left behind in the market.
These are a few ways that NFPs can benefit from cloud technology:
Increased Public Awareness
Non-profits are using social media to reach a wider demographic and build relationships with donors. Instead of using email and traditional advertising to raise funds, conduct surveys and tell their stories, NPFs are communicating via apps like Twitter and Facebook which are much more interactive and personal approach for donors. Since most non-profits have restricted budgets, this is a cost-effective way to target a large audience and track engagement.
Time and Cost Savings
Non-profits can eliminate unnecessary hardware, software and maintenance costs by leveraging the power of the cloud and, thereby, reducing their IT expenditure. A few examples are:
- Cloud-based applications can automate repetitive administrative tasks, such as filling in forms and getting approvals, freeing up members’ time to focus on the core business.
- Through pay-as-you-go cloud apps and platforms, such as Office 365, the time and cost spent on basic administrative tasks is much lower, such as adding and removing users, changing security permissions, etc. Flexibility and ease of use to perform these activities in-house come as a bonus.
- No need to have servers on-premise, freeing up physical space and removing the costs of maintaining infrastructure onsite (power) or worrying about infrastructure upgrades.
Mobility to communicate and share data regardless of physical location or device
Sharing information through secure and effective cloud platforms enable increased productivity and quicker decision making processes.
The cloud enables members, stakeholders and grant writers to collaborate and share ideas and data while on the move, from anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, and using any device. The same technology also allows these NPFs to communicate easily with a global base of donors and partners, even with those located or working in remote and regional areas.
Scale up or down as you need and cost-efficiently
In a market where funding and demand are unpredictable, pay-per-use cloud-based technology offers unparalleled scalability, enabling NPFs to manage growth and scale up or down to meet current needs. This allows non-profits to save money during quiet periods, without losing the ability to scale up quickly to handle peaks in demand such as unexpected fundraising events.
Security and Compliance
As with most businesses, data is the lifeblood of a typical NFP organisation. Loss or exposure of sensitive data can cause enormous damage. Cloud technology allows NFPs to implement enterprise-grade security, disaster recovery and backup services without blowing the budget.
In addition, cloud-based document management systems can help ensure compliance with regulations and standards. NFPs are required to be especially careful when storing sensitive personal data relating to race, political persuasion, health, religious views, sexuality, or criminal history. And you must always obtain consent from the individuals concerned before capturing such information or passing the data to third parties.
The cloud platform or app your NFPs chooses should comply with and incorporate a range of controls including data archiving & retention, network security, intrusion detection, data loss prevention and encryption, to name a few. These controls can protect your critical data and retain a record for future litigation or electronic discovery purposes if it’s ever required.
Electronic discovery (also called e-discovery) refers to the process by which electronic data is located, secured and researched for evidence to be used in civil or criminal cases. Data plays a key role in most serious criminal investigations, so it’s important for your NFP to ensure that law enforcement agencies can access this information in connection with their investigations. Cloud-based document management apps, such as SharePoint, make this task easy.
Collaboration and Systems Integration
NFPs can benefit from a range of collaboration tools to better manage their projects and fundraising events. By migrating to an integrated platform like Microsoft Office 365, non-profits can establish a cohesive working environment with consistent goals, cultural values and messages across all applications.
Integration of systems like email, document management, phone and video conferencing creates an environment in which employees are more productive and focussed on the same objectives. Tools like Slack, Yammer, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams can be used to create information hubs in which users can quickly reach their colleagues and always have the data they need at their fingertips.
Not-for-profit organisations face daunting challenges in today’s marketplace, but the adoption of cloud technology can give NFPs a competitive edge. To learn more about how technology can benefit your non-profit in 2018, call Bremmar today on 1300-991-351 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to articles