Cloud computing has transformed the way organizations conduct business throughout the world. Placing core technology infrastructure offsite, cloud solutions make it possible to reduce costs, increase computing power, and enhance collaboration, allowing companies to do much more with less.
For nonprofit organizations, reducing costs while boosting efficiency is essential for long-term success. Because nonprofits exist to make a positive impact on society, they don’t depend on traditional sources of income and instead rely on grants, fundraising, and other charitable sources. Maximizing every dollar goes a long way to ensuring the long-term health of a nonprofit organization, extending its mission, and delivering strong results.
Cloud software stands out as an ideal choice for nonprofit organizations seeking to streamline and enhance their operations. From handling core functions like accounting to offering industry-specific tools such as church management software, a wide range of cloud-based solutions is available for nonprofits to integrate into their digital infrastructure.
While the cloud offers a significant number of benefits when compared to traditional technology infrastructure, that doesn’t necessarily mean nonprofits should focus their efforts on migrating to cloud solutions. Every nonprofit is different and has its own technical requirements and industry peculiarities, and organizations should take care to ensure moving to the cloud is the best possible choice.
The Expectations of Cloud Software for Nonprofits
Cloud software is an all-encompassing term for what’s commonly referred to as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Unlike other methods of purchasing software, which often required buying a one-time license for a specific version and paying additional fees for software updates and maintenance, SaaS offers access to software through a recurring subscription fee.
Customer relationship management (CRM) tools, budgeting software, and a wide variety of other solutions for nonprofits exist in the cloud under a SaaS structure. Subscribing to cloud software offers nonprofits can offer a significant number of benefits that can reduce costs, streamline operations, and improve data security.
Here are some of the key benefits offered through cloud software for nonprofits:
- Cost efficiency. Cloud software’s recurring SaaS model is a predictable cost that’s easy to account for month-to-month. Rather than investing significant amounts of money upfront on servers, software licenses, and IT staff to maintain critical infrastructure, cloud software can greatly reduce the amount of money required to power nonprofit operations.
- Convenient access. Unlike traditional computer software, which must be accessed from the device it’s installed upon, cloud software can be accessed from desktops, laptops, servers, smartphones, and tablets. Not only does web-based access make it easier for nonprofit organizations to conduct work anywhere in the world, but it also improves the ability for users to collaborate with one another. Work from home capabilities, remote monitoring, and around-the-clock peace of mind is achievable through cloud-based solutions.
- Better fundraising abilities. The cornerstone of many nonprofit operations, fundraising is one of the most essential tasks organizations are responsible for carrying out. Cloud-based software makes it significantly easier for nonprofits to reach benefactors and raise funds through comprehensive CRM software that can be accessed through any web browser. During key fundraising events, enhanced capacity can be added to a cloud-based application to ensure proper resources can handle large workloads. Organizations with smaller budgets can also use cloud-based software to deploy fundraising programs over the web, easily reaching users around the world.
- Lower maintenance. Cloud software is maintained and hosted offsite, eliminating the need to purchase and maintain servers with dedicated support staff. Requiring less computing power than a traditional solution, cloud software can be accessed from nearly any device running a modern web browser. Many cloud solutions also integrate with a wide variety of other types of software, making it easy to manage technical needs across the entire nonprofit organization.
- Improved security. Rather than storing data on an easily-accessible hard drive or network server, cloud software takes advantage of enterprise-grade security to store data in an on-premises or off-premises solution. Most cloud solutions also take advantage of automatic backup and recovery capabilities, making it easy for nonprofits to safeguard data in the event of a disaster.
- Enhanced scalability. Because cloud software is hosted on powerful servers offsite, nonprofits can adjust their computing needs on an as-needed basis. As companies grow, computing needs expand, or additional power becomes required, nonprofits can easily add capacity and capability to meet evolving needs without having to invest in additional hardware upgrades or IT staff.
- High-powered features. Adopting cloud-based software enables nonprofits to run powerful new applications, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools that require significant computing resources. Instead of having to invest in cutting-edge hardware and software to handle high-performance tasks in house, cloud software gives nonprofits access to new and emerging technologies at a fraction of the traditional price.
- Reduced carbon footprint. For nonprofit organizations looking for green solutions, cloud software can greatly reduce an in-house carbon footprint. Running applications on cloud-based servers and storing data in cloud-based data centers requires less onsite equipment, bringing down energy usage associated with hosting and powering equipment.
The Reality of Cloud Software for Nonprofits
Switching to cloud software may appear to offer a litany of benefits, but a few drawbacks may give nonprofits pause before taking the plunge. While cloud migrations offer nonprofits significantly more access and flexibility, entrusting an offsite location with crucial company data can pose new risks to information to security.
Here are a few challenges organizations can encounter when adopting cloud software:
- Switching to a new cloud-based solution isn’t always as simple as flipping a switch. Integrating existing databases, migrating users, and getting organizations up to speed on how to take advantage of new capabilities often requires time and patience.
- Limited offline access. The ultimate promise of cloud software is anytime, anywhere access, allowing organizations to run nonprofit software through any web browser. But on occasions when the internet is down or inaccessible, organizations can find themselves without access to the information they need.
- Data portability. Storing data within cloud software can be simple enough, but retrieving a full database of information from an offsite server can be challenging. Once the information has been stored in the cloud, moving data from one provider to another is not always a process that is as straightforward and simple when a company hosts its data onsite.
- Data security. While cloud software providers often boast of enterprise-grade security capabilities, data is only as strong as its weakest entry point. Should critical data be stored offsite, it’s essential for nonprofits to fully vet cloud providers to ensure information is safe and secure with a trusted company.
The Cloud Software Expectation vs. Reality for Nonprofits
If you’re considering moving your nonprofit to the cloud, weighing the pros and cons of each option is crucial to making the right decision. Here are some of the most important aspects of cloud software worth keeping in mind:
- Cloud software can greatly reduce the costs of infrastructure, maintenance, and support staff.
- Nonprofits can easily take advantage of enhanced capabilities that can boost fundraising efforts, collaboration, and cross-application compatibility.
- Cloud software offers enterprise-level data security options, but organizations should only use trustworthy data providers to better safeguard information.
- Storing information offsite can reduce costs and a nonprofit’s overall carbon footprint.
- Cloud solutions typically offer around-the-clock access from any web browser, but internet outages can lead to restricted access.
DWD Technology Group helps nonprofit companies adopt end-to-end cloud solutions. Tailored to meet a nonprofit’s specific needs and budget, DWD Technology Group can help pinpoint the precise solutions necessary for organizations to thrive and grow. Contact DWD Technology Group today for a free software needs assessment.