Posted by Jay Wilkinson

Over the past few years, cloud computing has become a mainstream IT approach and has been readily adopted by several nonprofits. In fact, you may be using cloud-based applications without knowing it, including email programs (Gmail), office productivity apps (Google Drive), file share apps (Dropbox) and CRM tools (Salesforce).

If you’re still a little fuzzy on what cloud computing is exactly, here’s some help.

What is the cloud and cloud-based data storage?
You have information on your computer, right? When you use cloud-based storage, that information is actually stored in a much more powerful server that has stronger security, more storage and better backup of data. Providers of cloud-based services also provide secure email and document delivery.

Why does my organization need to take advantage of cloud-based data storage?
If you’re like many nonprofits, you have limited space and budget. Are your computers, printers and other office equipment ready to be replaced? There’s a cost involved. But when you use cloud-based storage, you can limit how much hardware you need, thus decreasing your equipment costs. You’ll also reduce costs associated with license fees, upgrades to new software versions, and the required infrastructure maintenance.

Can my organization afford to move to the cloud?
Cloud-based storage is cost effective. By making the move to digital storage, you’ll save money on ink, paper and equipment, plus cut down on payable hours for extra office staff. In the event that your computers are lost, stolen or destroyed, all your information will be safe in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere.

Besides saving money, what are the benefits?
Is your organization interested in reaching new goals or expanding your reach to donors and community members? In many cases, nonprofits are limited because of technology restrictions. By using cloud services, you may be able to achieve more and broaden your constituent base while reducing costs.

What about security?
Your donor list contains sensitive information. By storing your data in the cloud, in a secure content management system, it is encrypted and password protected. Just beware of “free data storage”—it may not be as secure as you need it to be. Any particular solution should be able to tell you about their specific security policies and procedures.