Last month I had the pleasure of contributing an article to CIO Update regarding cloud computing in the nonprofit sector. You can read the full article here or get a sampling through the excerpt below.
The idea of changing to new technology can seem incredibly daunting and overwhelming, but the reality is that the new technology is here to stay and will eventually become mainstream. Nonprofits that don’t look to cloud will be left behind — regardless of how compelling or important their mission happens to be.
Accessibility: How important is accessibility to the organization? Are there multiple offices or multiple people in multiple locations? A cloud-based database can provide 24/7 access to every member of an organization that allows multiple staff members to manage a single database from virtually anywhere in the world.
Cost: For nonprofits, cost is always a major factor. An on-premise solution or a workaround solution (such as Excel) might be sufficient enough and cost effective for smaller organizations with single offices and single access points, but for even organizations with two offices or even one staff member in another location, the capital investment in technology could prove costly. Cloud services come in a variety of flavors that don’t always require a significant investment up front.
Innovation: If there is one fundamental truth in this world (or Truth with a capital “T”), it’s that technology will always change. Innovation will always happen. The next iteration or generation of technology will come along that makes the current version seem not quite as complete.
On-premise solutions typically require time and money to stay abreast of latest developments, something that most nonprofits have in short supply. If any technology comes close to fulfilling the promise of being “future proof,” it’s cloud computing. In most instances, updates and upgrades happen seamlessly behind the scenes so you always stay current with the latest technology.
Audience engagement: Similar to for-profit business, nonprofits are trying to engage an audience in a very dynamic way. Traditionally, nonprofits have relied very heavily on direct mail to appeal to their audience for much-needed funds. Traditional channels still do, and will continue to, play a key role when engaging constituents. But the world is changing.
Digital channels are becoming the norm in terms of information consumption, and nonprofits need to stay current to be relevant to their audience. cloud solutions offer a variety of engagement tools geared for the digital/social/online world that provide most nonprofits with a very necessary multichannel approach to constituent engagement.
For most nonprofits, the cloud will provide significant dividends in both the short and long term, and will set up most nonprofits to be ready for the opportunities that exist both today and tomorrow.