Cloud Computing Basics for Non-profits

There’s a whole lot of hype that surrounds cloud computing and understanding the intricacies of the technology is not completely necessary. You just need to know how cloud computing can transform your non-profit’s business model, reduce costs and keep your data more secure. This guide should teach you some of the basics and why it’s the preferred model of data storage for non-profits and commercial businesses alike.

Cloud Services vs Traditional Datacentres:

Cloud services aren’t new technology as much as they are new ways to efficiently use it. They still utilise servers in datacentres around the world, but they take convenience, security and speed to a whole new level. You still upload and download files to a server, but instead of your own private server, it’s a network of servers, which allocate resources based on your demand. You aren’t paying for a whole heap of unused space; you simply get storage access on-demand.

Rather than a piece of technology, think of cloud computing as a service. Platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox, the two most common cloud computing services, give you access to a simple interface where you can upload and download files from just about any device. You can give users specialised permissions over selected folders and send unique links for one-time access to someone outside of your network.

Why choose the Cloud for your Non-Profit?

Working Remotely

Whether you’ve got volunteers on the ground, or you’ve just got a network of volunteers around the world assisting you in little ways, it makes sense to switch to the cloud. The freelance community has embraced cloud technology, working in different pockets of the world to collaborate on projects with other specialised freelancers. Likewise, many newer not-for-profits seem to have this decentralised structure embedded into their business plan.

With most cloud computing services, you can select certain folders to store locally, allowing you to maintain access in the event of internet troubles. This feature also facilitates better collaboration. Instead of having to constantly upload new versions of documents and having the risk of volunteers using an old version, you simply save your document as usual and other users get the latest version in their folders.

Software Integration:

The great thing about packaged cloud services is that they’re often embedded into more and more software. You can upload with Dropbox just about anywhere, and collaboration platforms like Slack have fully integrated Google Drive and Dropbox into their platforms. This allows users to upload files that already exist on their Dropbox, without using anymore upload bandwidth.


In addition to the permissions you can grant individual users of your network, large cloud services offer much better data security over what your private server hosting provider can provide. The larger cloud service providers are utilised by millions of individuals, businesses and non-profits around the world, and have intricate security systems in place to ensure your data is safe. This is of particular concern to non-profits, who often have sensitive information about donors, beneficiaries and volunteers on hand.

Low Costs:

As a non-profit IT consulting firm we have seen that for most non-profits, cloud services for data storage just make total sense from a financial perspective. The resource allocation model of cloud services allows providers to use most of their servers, thereby reducing the end price that users pay. The ability to accurately meter your data usage means you can easily switch to another plan offered by your provider. Contrast this with private server providers, where you’ve often got to send an email to the admins and wait a few days.

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