Clouds, Data, And Your Nonprofit


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Computers and technology have enabled humans to work faster than ever before. Their ability to centralize and organize information, files, and data imperative to your nonprofit is essential to the success of your mission.
However, because many nonprofits have yet to adopt cloud based solutions, they’re still struggling with the organization of their data and files. In some cases there are a dozen or so versions of a single document floating in between emails, there are inconsistent file naming practices, and not everyone in the organization has direct access to the data they need. All of these problems and more are guilty of muddying processes, slowing down work flows, and ultimately getting in the way of your nonprofit accomplishing its mission.

When looking long-term at your nonprofit’s organizational strategy, you’ll quickly realize that the majority of your technological solutions are cloud based. The direct benefits have been detailed in previous blog posts, but here are the three main ones:
  • Getting your data out of the dark ages. Perhaps you have all of your donor information stored on an excel spread sheet, or (GASP) in a filing cabinet somewhere in the office.
  • Fixing poorly formatted data. Everyone’s business changes throughout the course of a year, and if your nonprofit has been using the same spreadsheet to manage financial data for even longer than that, it’s probably starting to get messy. New columns are being added, edited, and changed and after a while, the information you need isn’t even readily available.
  • Reviewing inconsistent data. Because a nonprofit has data that is living in multiple locations, and is being updated at different times, often times numbers and data are inconsistent, and do not offer accurate representations of the nonprofit anymore.

Successfully migrating to the cloud requires an entirely new way of looking at data. The same business practices that you were employing before are rarely relevant as your ability to process control and manage is completely altered. Here are a few examples of how a cloud-based CRM can change with proper use, training, and implementation.

  • Automatic naming conventions. Instead of having files with names like and have the same file saved again later with the name Version3_DonorList_Ournonprofit.doc, a smart CRM automates that process. Naming conventions, page lookups, and pre-populated pick list options make organizing files a breeze.
  • Accessible anywhere. Having access to every file you might need at the drop of a hat, regardless of location, unifies an organization. Say an employee needs to work from home one day, unexpectedly. They might request attachments be emailed to them throughout the day from their PC, and all of a sudden you have two employees who are not working as efficiently as they could be.

The cloud remedies this problem by making a person’s files accessible anywhere they have access to an Internet connection.

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