The Changing Landscape of Nonprofit Technology (and What It Means for Your Org) | npENGAGE

The Changing Landscape of Nonprofit Technology (and What It Means for Your Org)

By on Jul 1, 2015


The emergence of cloud technology has changed the way people around the world work, communicate, share information, and support causes.

More than 90% of nonprofit organizations are using some form of cloud technology today, with half of them using multiple cloud services. 

The vast majority of software is currently offered as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS/Cloud), and the growing use of these services is allowing individuals and nonprofit organizations to focus more on their services, programs and respective missions rather than investing valuable resources on an expensive, time-consuming IT infrastructure. The cloud typically scales faster and more cost effectively, and has greater stability and availability than in-house (self-managed) infrastructure.  However, even as a majority of nonprofit organizations inch toward implementing the benefits of a more cost-efficient and productive work environment, there are still major opportunities to take advantage of cloud-based services.

While the majority of nonprofits are using the cloud for common tasks like email, only about 15% are using cloud-based accounting and fundraising solutions.

A recent report from TechSoup found that beyond email and file storage, most nonprofits are reluctant to embrace the cloud for their other organizational needs.

The Changing Landscape of Technology

Less than a decade ago, we installed software on our own internal systems using physical compact discs. In today’s environment, most applications can now be accessed immediately with only  an Internet connection from your laptop, smartphone or tablet. The complex and time consuming installation process has been replaced with a simple login that allows us instant access to the tools we need to do our jobs.  These tools and applications are monitored, updated, and maintained by experts whose primary focus is to offer quality service and support.

Used effectively, switching to the right cloud service provider will save an organization time and money and offer higher quality service and support.

There’s no need to  invest in expensive hardware, software licenses or hiring significant IT staff. Additionally, the services offered by the cloud are superior to those offered by the old model, in which an individual’s work and resources are tethered to the physical location in which they were created—the cloud offers applications that makes it possible to work from any device, anywhere and at any time. The SaaS model also enables you to take advantage of a broad collection of IT services without needing to have a deep and sophisticated knowledge of how those services function on an operational level. Instead, you’re free to focus on their core tasks and mission

On Premise vs. the Cloud

Unlike the on premise model, the cloud functions on a “Pay as You Use” model, where you are only charged for the storage and specific services you require. Cloud service providers handle maintenance and accessibility issues, including security. And changes do not need to be applied to everyone’s individual computer. Licensing costs become a thing of the past. And your IT staff will be able to easily adjust resources to meet the demands of the team.

Of course, there are many things to consider before making a switch from an on premise infrastructure to the cloud. 

Cloud technology is not unto itself the end-all. It’s about choosing the right cloud, the right integration, and the right partner that is focused on your space.


Mary Beth Westmoreland is Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, responsible for leading Blackbaud’s worldwide technology strategy, architecture and user experience across the company’s entire solution portfolio. She has 30 years of experience in software engineering.

Prior to Blackbaud, Mary Beth was Vice President of R&D at Ipswitch, Inc. She also spent 15 years at the Savannah River National Laboratory starting as a programmer and eventually leading the company’s Technical Systems Engineering organizations.

Mary Beth was named one of the 2017 Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council. She is a member of the board of directors of Make-a-Wish SC Foundation, a CS Advisory Board Member for Clemson University and is involved in many other STEM initiatives. She graduated from Immaculata University with a degree in Mathematics/Physics.

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