Should Your Nonprofit Consider Cloud Computing?

Nonprofit Management

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Many businesses are moving toward cloud-based computing and nonprofits are following suit. The cloud is, very simply,  a system of servers that host information on the Internet. People who use the cloud store their data in that system. They access their information online instead of storing it on site.

Sounds neat, right? It is! There have been many studies about cloud computing and much discussion about nonprofits using the technology. These 8 pros and cons to cloud computing can help you determine if your nonprofit should consider using services on the cloud.

Some pros to cloud computing include:

Pro 1. The cloud is accessible almost anywhere

When your data is stored on the cloud, you can access it from anywhere you have Internet. Increased accessibility can help you work with remote volunteers, collaborate and share information with other organizations, and make your work schedule more flexible.

Pro 2. Low costs

Switching to cloud computing may save your organization lots of money. The cost of moving information to the cloud and paying for a service provider is typically less expensive than buying and maintaining new servers. Cloud computing also eliminates the need to hire IT professionals to manage on-site servers.

Pro 3. Flexibility

When you look into cloud computing you will see the word “scalability” thrown around a lot. Cloud computing offers users an unprecedented level of flexibility when it comes to companies’ ability to change storage limits and numbers of users. That flexibility is especially attractive when you consider the unpredictability of running a nonprofit organization: you can keep your resources small and still be able to scale up in the event of a major change of circumstances.

Pro 4. Improved security

Security is always a concern for any organization. It’s an even bigger concern when fledgling (or even established) nonprofits look at investing time and money in buying, housing, and maintaining their own secure servers. With cloud computing, nonprofits have the option of storing their data in secure data-centers instead of investing huge amounts of money in on-site storage.

For all that cloud computing is quickly becoming a popular option for charity organizations, consider the possible drawbacks associated with it.

Con 1. Accessibility difficulty

While storing information off-site on Internet servers can save time and money, it can also potentially cause some problems. If all of your information is stored online and your Internet service goes down, that information will be unavailable to you until you can access the Internet again. This could also be an issue if your cloud provider experiences difficulties of their own.

Con 2. Compliance issues

If your organization has to adhere to strict security standards, cloud computing options may not be right for you. Especially sensitive information like social security numbers or bank information requires extra levels of security that your provider may not be able to offer. If you deal with sensitive data, check to make sure that your provider can maintain your security compliance.

Con 3. Security issues

Cloud computing could save your nonprofit a lot of security headaches. Keep in mind, though, that the servers that make up the cloud are not indestructible. If something goes wrong with the servers that make up the cloud, you may have problems accessing your information.

Con 4. Concerns about data ownership

What happens to your information if you decide to cancel the service? What happens if your cloud provider goes out of business or if you decide to transfer your information to another provider? Does your provider have access to your information? Before you sign up for any cloud computing services, make sure that you know the answer to these questions before buying their services.

Cloud computing may be a valuable resource for your nonprofit. If you do your research and choose a good provider, it can save you time, money, and hassle.

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