Currently, most nonprofits are having difficulty adopting cutting-edge business technology that could help them overcome challenges and realize their goals. This is often due to three key barriers inherent in many nonprofits.
1. Limited expertise – Did you know that only 11 percent of nonprofits believe their technological approach is effective? While nonprofits are investing in IT to keep their systems running, complex strategic transformation and programs like training and change management tend to be pushed to the wayside due to a lack of dedicated expertise and budget constraints.
2. Limited financial resources – Nonprofits operate on tight budgets, with the lion’s share of revenue going toward doing good, paying employees, and solidifying relationships with donors. Unfortunately, this leaves little time or budget leftover for technological transformation.
3. Poor data security – Technological transformation has a lot of benefits, but a major drawback is that it tends to widen the attack surface. Since reputation is everything to a nonprofit, a breach can be catastrophic. For this reason, ensuring security across multiple platforms is a pressing concern.
These challenges are certainly formidable, and the shift to working from home has only compounded the difficulties. Now, more and more nonprofit and charity organizations are embracing the value of digital work by serving their beneficiaries in virtual ways (e.g. telehealth, teletherapy, eLearning, virtual events) – they’re using Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing solutions to maintain connections, deliver content and even build virtual donation programs. At the same time, operations and IT staff are struggling to control the ballooning technological costs that come with working from home.
So, how can nonprofits enjoy technological transformation without consuming too much budget? It can look different depending on the solution. Let’s take a look at why nonprofits should start their technological transformation with three cloud solutions and explore special considerations they may need to make.
Azure is Microsoft’s flagship cloud solution. Nonprofits can host workloads, apps, and entire servers in the Azure cloud, allowing them to enjoy better pricing through right-sizing, faster processing, and an intuitive way to centralize important apps.
Even better, hosting applications in Azure satisfies many of the concerns around data security – since the Azure platform inherently offers top-notch security, nonprofits only need to worry about direct attacks to their own organization. This significantly reduces the attack surface.
However, migrating applications, servers, and workloads to the cloud can be difficult and fraught with risk. Although the benefits are well-worth it, nonprofits should ensure they have the right expertise on board before beginning a migration to Azure. Managed services or simple management platforms often provide the extra assistance nonprofits need without incurring even more expenses.
Since organizations began prioritizing remote work, video conferencing and online collaboration has become a prominent concern. Microsoft Teams has emerged as a leading solution to solve these concerns, especially on the internal side of the business.
While nonprofits should continue using Zoom or another simple conferencing solution when meeting with external stakeholders, Teams has the functionality organizations need for day-to-day business. It’s possible to host video chats with 250 people at a time, create channels for every vertical of the organization, create and collaborate on documents within the platform, and more.
However, the problem with Teams isn’t risk or complexity – it’s getting the entire team on board with using the solution. If only 30% of employees are excited to use Teams, that number will quickly dwindle as they realize 70% of the organization won’t be joining them there. For that reason, nonprofits need an adoption and change management strategy to encourage the usage of Teams or similar solutions.
Microsoft 365 helps nonprofits enjoy their typical Office 365 solutions – like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel – in a whole new, cloud-enabled way, making it simpler than ever to connect people and information within an organization, and is almost essential for remote workers.
Like Azure, Microsoft 365 has inherent server-side protections that will narrow the attack surface considerably when compared to other methods of document sharing. However, employees will be responsible for securing how their teams handle these documents within the organization so it’s essential that they have the knowledge required to protect the information contained within them.
However, cost can be a concern for Microsoft 365. The licensing environment for these solutions are far more complex than their predecessors, meaning it’s more difficult to know how many licenses are needed and what should be within these licenses. Mistakes may cause an organization to be subject to fines and financial waste. For that reason, nonprofits should enlist the help of a Microsoft expert to ensure their Microsoft 365 strategy is optimized from the start.