With the cloud, all your organization’s software applications and files reside somewhere else. All you need is a fast, reliable internet connection to work with software apps, databases, your files and other vital information.
But that’s just the beginning. Cloud technology has spawned a sea change in the software industry that benefits everyone, especially nonprofits. Today, instead of installing a program on your organization’s PC or computer network, cloud-based software systems are available for an economical subscription. Welcome to the world of “software as a service.”
Much of what nonprofits do involves building relationships and managing money, so many cloud-based packages for nonprofits help with accounting, finance, client-relationship management, and planning and forecasting. There is no shortage of good choices, and we obviously can’t include everyone. Yet, here are a few standouts:
Among small-enterprise and personal accounting software programs, QuickBooks from Intuit is the category killer. The online, cloud-based version has also become a hit because it’s quick and easy to use. There’s nothing to install or maintain, and the user fees are gentle to the budget of the most strapped nonprofit. The fullest-featured includes a payroll-services module. Visit the site.
The best things in life are free, and in some cases, that statement can be taken literally. Microsoft provides support to nonprofits through free and discounted software and cloud services. This includes the “Office 365 Nonprofit” suite, which enables you to author documents and track changes collaboratively, and includes other features such as videoconferencing and virtual board meetings. The service also offers database management, enterprise-mobility and secure access programs. Visit the site.
This cloud-based accounting program has a built-in advice tool for nonprofits, which can help your organization to make the most of your nonprofit status. Xero also comes with a variety of financial-reporting modules, with at-a-glance dashboards of the financial details you require most often. Xero also integrates easily with widely used services such as Constant Contact and PayPal. Visit the site.
This donor-management program is available via the nonprofit IT consulting firm Blackbaud. Ultimately, it can help your organization raise more funds while spending fewer precious dollars on information technology. It links with social-media platforms and, to stay current, to the National Change of Address database. It also can also be linked to Blackbaud Merchant Services for payment processing. Visit the site.
Salesforce for Nonprofits
For customer-relationship management software, Salesforce.com dominates the for-profit marketing world. Thus it is no small surprise that it offers able software for nonprofits, too. Its online platform gives you a complete picture of your donors, volunteers, members and other constituents all in one place. Salesforce Wave Analytics lets nonprofit managers dive deep into their organizational facts and figures to identify opportunities and make better decisions. Visit the site.
This multifunctional business management program comes in different versions, depending on the size of the organization. It incorporates financial, analytical, accounting, CRM, fundraising and ecommerce in one package. Its OneWorld feature helps reduce the complexity of running a multinational organization by adjusting for currency, taxation and legal compliance differences. Visit the site.
This online platform aims to provide a total solution for today’s nonprofit fundraising professional. It’s designed to be simple to use and aims to increase donor engagement and retention. It combines a customer relationship management program with donor-management tools and a social media interface. It also produces an individual historical summary for each donor, calculating that person’s engagement level as cold, warm, hot, and “on fire!” Visit the site.
One final note
Cloud-based software programs are quite numerous, and their number can be expected to grow steadily. So, this is one area where the services of an IT or financial pro can come in handy. If you have such people on your staff, you might want to ask them for suggestions on which products and services to try. If your organization is tiny and you need to hire a temporary consultant, ask for a reduction in his or her usual fee. Someone with technical or financial skills can also assist you in getting the service up to speed and providing any necessary customization.
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- Steve Shattuck, "How Cloud Computing Will Single-Handedly Save the Nonprofit Sector," Nonprofit Technology Network
- Mariella Moon, "Microsoft Donates $1B in Cloud Services to Nonprofits," EnGadget
- Laura S. Quinn and Elizabeth Pope, "A Few Good Accounting Packages," TechSoup.org
- John Moore, "Nonprofit Software Deemed a Must-Have by Many Charities," TechTarget
- Lyndsey Hrabik, "Finding the Right Donor Database for Your Nonprofit," Nonprofit Hub