Are nonprofits destined for outdated software?

Office 365 for nonprofits

02 Apr Are nonprofits destined for outdated software?

In his 2013 TED Talk, Dan Pallotta, the American activist and entrepreneur known for his highly successful multi-day charitable events, argued for a new way of seeing how charities invest. Pallotta was critical of the idea that nonprofit organisations should associate success with saving cash and being frugal. While not spending beyond their means is, of course, a wise decision, Pallotta argued that this obsession with frugality means charities are hampered from growing.

One area where this message rings particularly true in this sector is in the realm of spending on IT. Survey after survey has shown that charities are often far behind private and public sector organisations when it comes to IT and being prepared for the challenges (and opportunities) of modern computing. Whether it’s because of a lack of funds, or a belief that it’s better not to spend on IT when the money could be spent on the charity’s recipients, this means systems are often falling behind and struggling.

However, by investing in modern IT, charities can expect a series of long-term benefits. Not only can modern IT actually work out as less expensive than your existing systems, it is also potentially much more durable and means you will make enormous savings long term. So how might this be possible?

Introducing the Cloud

The cloud has taken the corporate world by storm in recent years, as CIOs and IT managers have increasingly seen the benefits of storing data in managed, third party servers. Despite some initial doubts about security, the Cloud is now widely used and providers such as Microsoft, Dropbox, Google and Amazon are offering a cheap and flexible alternative to local servers (which regularly fill up and are costly to maintain and replace). However, the Cloud is about more than cheap storage; it provides the potential boost to productivity and efficiency that certain cloud providers can support that should make it especially appealing to charity IT directors.

Office 365 for nonprofits

Office 365 – Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity environment – is the market leader when it comes to the provision of productivity services over the Internet. The benefits of giving users access to Office 365 for nonprofits is that charity and nonprofit staff get access to a range of cloud-based applications which promise to boost the productivity. Office 365 provides access to familiar applications like Microsoft Office (both online and on-premises), Calendar and Outlook in addition to a variety of cutting-edge tools like Yammer (the enterprise social network akin to Facebook for work), Office 365 Groups, Delve, Sway and more. It can also be easily joined up with online and On-Premises versions of Microsoft Project, SharePoint and Dynamics CRM.

But doesn’t all this come at a high cost? Not necessarily – Microsoft actively supports and provides cheaper access to Office 365 for nonprofits. More importantly, however, your colleagues will be using an ‘evergreen’ platform. What this means is that updates to the software are constantly rolled out to all Office 365 users from Microsoft HQ free. So, once you have an Office 365 licence, you will never need to bother with expensive upgrades. Instead, Microsoft rolls out patches, improvements and new products all the time, meaning your organisation will always be using the latest and most advanced products. Plus, you can keep up with all updates regarding Office 365 – those in development, rolling out and recently launched – via the Office 365 Roadmap.


Office 365 for non-profit has tools that you will come to love

Office 365 is, quite simply, an enormous environment. With such a huge array of tools and applications included, what will be particularly useful with Office 365 for nonprofits?

Mobile friendly

Whether you have an international focus or simply have field workers who are regularly away from the office, providing mobile tools for charity workers is increasingly viable and valuable for charities. Office 365 makes it possible to connect to the environment from wherever an individual charity worker is and be productive from a smartphone or tablet.

So, whether your colleagues are updating reports from a disaster zone or taking a photo of a project and instantly sharing this with colleagues in a Yammer group, Office 365’s mobile access means they can be fully productive while on the go.

Analyze your data better

One of the greatest benefits of Office 365 for nonprofits is the access it gives you to tools for data analysis. Users get access to Power BI, a powerful data analytics tool which lets anyone crunch numbers fast from a huge range of sources, before turning these into striking visuals to tell a story.

Need to demonstrate the impact of your latest awareness campaign? Power BI can create dashboards broken down by region, social media data and more. Creating a presentation on a major issue – from global warming to disease prevalence? Use Power BI’s mapping tools to create amazing 3D maps that will really bring a story to life.

Office 365 Video

Sometimes described as ‘YouTube for the enterprise’, this is one of the most exciting Office 365 tools for charities. Office 365 Video provides a central space for employees to upload short (or long) films to share communications, training and customer stories with colleagues.

Using video with Office 365 for nonprofits can be particularly impactful. Videos can provide a way of sharing clips about the work the organisation is doing in the field, thereby encouraging office workers who can sometimes feel disconnected from the ultimate work of the charity. The medium of video is also a powerful one for executives to share news and strategy decisions with the rest of the organisation.

Office 365 in your organisation

The potential of Office 365 for nonprofits is enormous. The platform provides cheap, anywhere, anytime access to company documents and a wide range of cutting-edge productivity tools.


Interested to learn more about how Office 365 tools would look like in your charity? Get in touch with us today!

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About the author
Jo Kemp Williams

Jo Kemp-Williams has been in IT business development for over 15 years, during which time she has performed most roles from Telemarketing to Account Management. Since 2003, Jo has been working within the Microsoft Partner Network where she has been responsible for sales of various products including BizTalk/SharePoint and the associated services. Jo has been involved with Office 365 since its release in 2011 (as BPOS), and has focused on the platform and it’s ever evolving services and capabilities since then. Helping customers of all sizes, across all sectors embrace the advantages of Microsoft’s Cloud Offerings and helping to educated their business on the benefits.

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