Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 27 seconds

For non-profit organizations, saving money and resources is an operational imperative that requires managers to make smart and sustainable choices. Implementing a new solution feels like a commonplace decision in the for- profit world, while even considering to adopt something requires a small miracle in the non-profit world. A September of 2013 survey by Connecting UP and TechSoup Global revealed that 90% of non-profits were using the cloud in one way or another for everything from emailing and online database management to web conferencing.

Feedback from 10,500 respondents in 88 countries disclosed the current state of non-profits' technology infrastructure and where the future of cloud adoption in non-profit organizations is headed. Despite a general lack of understanding of online database management and cloud computing, 79% of the companies surveyed indicated the "biggest advantage in adopting cloud technologies is administration-related, followed by cost and improved opportunities for collaboration."

For non-profits, moving a database to the cloud frees up time and money while improving management, automation of payroll, stability of your website, and general organizational functions. But more importantly, it ensures your data is safe, secure and actionable.

Affording the Cloud

When it comes to adopting new software or accessing a database, non-profits are often plagued with unaffordable price tags. Yet online database management in the cloud is a relatively cheap option, with minimal fees for system implementation and a plethora of options for payment, including a monthly fee or per-user access. Unlike the high start up costs of many database solutions, online databases stored in the cloud provide online tracking, storage and automation, all at an affordable price.

From an operational perspective, organizations can build an online database specific to their needs. Donor information can be easily tracked and stored within a secure and customized online database. Staff can access up-to-date details concerning an upcoming event or meeting from a single source within the agency's online database, keeping the entire team on the same page throughout the planning process. Online database management is automated, so important information or details about an upcoming event can be expediently forwarded to the right people, as indicated within the database. For non-profits with very unique organizational and administrative needs, online database solutions in the cloud are more than affordable from the get-go, enabling you to cut back on money, time and valuable resources.

3 Common Cloud Concerns

When deciding if your non-profit should turn to the cloud, common concerns include the cloud's lack of privacy, confidentiality and security. Non-profits legally require safety and security, so online database service providers must mirror these values.

Fortunately, federal regulations govern cloud services and database security in the U.S. to ensure client-level data stored in the cloud is kept safe and secure. The Statement on Standards for Attestation Engagement No. 16 (SSAE 16) governed by the American Institute of CPAs, gives vendors the option to deliver assurances that can be integrated into the customer's broader risk management framework, which translates to frequent checks at regular intervals and set standards for service delivery.

Much work is being done to continually improve the privacy, confidentiality and security of information stored in the cloud. Non-profit organizations should choose to value these common concerns by choosing online database providers that offer the most robust solutions in keeping data safe.

Making the Move

Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of being a non-profit is being certain third party providers, including online database hosts, understand your organizational culture, operations and ultimately your service mission. Migrating to the cloud, in most cases, is cheaper than hosting the information on-site. Once you find a provider that is willing to work towards your mission, run a comprehensive costs benefit analysis to double check migrating to the cloud will in fact be the cheaper option.

Change can be terrifying for some, as moving a mountain of information to an online database feels risky and permanent. To overcome this fear, work with a service provider who has successfully completed an implementation for a similar organization in mission, size and scope. No matter what, your service provider should agree that the data belongs to you. Prepare for the future by setting up an online database that can later migrate back to an in-house service without costing a fortune, just in case managers or the board of the directors at your organization decide it's time to make a switch.

In all cases, non-profit organizations should have similar access as larger organizations to technologies that save money, time and resources. And with online database management technology, you have cost-effective, automated data tools at your fingertips. Customized, secure and relatively cheap, online database tools in the cloud keep your non-profit relevant and your data at hand.


About Charles Var
After 15 years working in Silicon Valley for the likes of Intuit, Symantec, and HP, Charles headed east in 2008 to lead marketing and communications for Denver-based MX Logic. Following MX Logic’s acquisition by McAfee in 2009, Charles directed strategic marketing for the McAfee Content and Cloud Security division, raising awareness and demand for the company’s portfolio of Cloud-based email and web security solutions. His experience in Internet- or Cloud-based business solutions spans back to 2000 when he helped launch several of Intuit’s early online solutions, including QuickBase and QuickBooks Online. Charles earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications and Journalism from Chapman University. Charles currently leads all marketing initiatives for TrackVia.
Last modified on Friday, 24 May 2013
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