Guest blog alert: The following post is by Amy Misakonis, Project Manager for ACF Solutions. Thanks for contributing Amy!
I’ve worked with several Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) on their technology challenges as they fulfill their global missions. You might not be surprised to find out that they have unique challenges because of their global nature. But some of their challenges are the same ones faced by any nonprofit at one time or another:
- communicating with multiple locations with varying technology and know-how
- gathering accurate and timely information on the impact of their work
- maintaining/increasing funding
- communicating their mission to current and prospective supporters, funders and donors
In our work with nonprofits, we’ve helped many NGOs face these types of challenges by tapping into the inherent benefits of cloud computing platforms. These platforms:
- provide access to real-time data regardless of location
- give you on-the-go access to systems and information via the Internet and mobile devices
- deliver a wide reach to communicate with current and potential members and constituents
So, let’s look at cloud computing in the real world of nonprofits. Consider these two examples of how NGOs are using cloud-based technology, and think about how you can apply the same principles to your organization:
Improved Field Communication
Capable Partners Program (CAP) strives to improve health, education and economies worldwide with more than 250 programs in the US and abroad. They needed a new system to help them provide technical and operational assistance to grantees across the globe.
- increase communications between a worldwide staff including remote field locations
- provide system access to field staff with little technical infrastructure and unpredictable web connections
- streamline the process of providing technical assistance to grantees
- provide an accurate and easy-to-use platform for tracking program status and outcomes
For this project, we implemented a Salesforce.com system that allows CAP to take advantage of the benefits of cloud technology. Here are some of the things that CAP is now able to do:
- Client representatives in countries around the world access the system and enter real-time status and outcomes on their projects.
- Field staff members access the system in remote locations via their laptops either online or via an offline option when Internet connections aren’t available. They also access the system via mobile devices, vastly improving field to home office communications.
- Staff members post notifications via Salesforce.com Chatter, giving them a private social network, and providing instant information exchange.
- Consistent data gathering paired with reporting and analytics increases CAP’s ability to track and report back on program status and outcomes.
Growing Constituents and Diversifying Funding
International Relief and Development (IRD) is an NGO whose mission is to reduce the suffering of the world’s most vulnerable groups and to provide tools and resources needed to increase their self-sufficiency. They accomplish this mission by running targeted, cost-effective development programs that improve the lives of these vulnerable groups.
Last year, IRD started an initiative focused on increasing awareness and support of their organization.
They had three key goals in mind:
- communicating their mission to a broad audience
- generating interest in their initiatives
- building a fundraising organization to supplement their traditional government funding
We designed and configured a cloud-based system to meet IRD’s immediate needs and to help them reach their long-term goals. The final solution includes the following components:
- Convio Common Ground
- Itegration between Common Ground and IRD’s existing Convio Online Marketing ools
- Integration between Care2 an online system being used by IRD to gain interest in their missions) and Convio Online Marketing tools
IRD now has an integrated system for growing their constituent base, communicating with their constituents, developing marketing and fundraising strategies, planning events, and reporting on how well they are achieving their goals.
In just a few short months, IRD is already seeing how powerful and beneficial cloud-based technology solutions can be — they have grown their list of supporters by more than 300,000 people. And their new cloud-based system will allow them to act on this success. They’ll be able to better understand and serve the specific market segments within their supporters, target communications by understanding what messages and information draw the most interest from constituents and, over time, continue to expand their reach and funding base.
These are just two examples of how NGOs are using cloud technologies to meet their unique challenges head-on as they work toward their global missions. But really, there’s no ceiling to the many ways that these technologies are being leveraged to meet the needs of NGOs and nonprofits around the world.