Cloud Intranets For Nonprofits Make A Real Difference

Jun 27, 2016 | 0 comments

Want your nonprofit to stay ahead of the game? Cloud intranet software can make a real difference for nonprofits. Investing in IT systems and other business processes has traditionally been a low priority for the nonprofit sector who would much rather spend precious resources on frontline services. But the nonprofit sector is also big business and like any big business, the sector as a whole needs to make sure that it keeps up with the changing digital world that we inhabit. In this article, we look at how an office intranet can help nonprofits improve communications, increase efficiency and enhance engagement with staff and volunteers.

What Is A Non-Profit Organization?

what-is-nonprofit-intranetNonprofits, or not-for-profits as they are sometimes called, are organizations or associations that conduct business or provide services for the benefit of the general public. And as the name suggests, they are not motivated by profits.

Typically they include charities, museums, local community groups, and campaign organizations. Within that, there are some big names such as UNICEF, American Red Cross, Save the Children, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In fact, the nonprofit sector is a big player in the US economy. Nonprofits account for 11.4 million jobs or 10.3 percent of all private sector employment. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the nonprofit sector contributes over 5 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

External Focus

Nonprofits have been traditionally externally focussed. Raising funds and channeling those resources into frontline services is their priority rather than investing in internally focussed IT systems and business processes.

It’s somewhat ironic that the nonprofit sector has some of the best social marketers around. They are very successful at running fundraising campaigns and connecting with donors and the wider public through social media. Save the Children, for example, has a very high social media profile with 1.5 million Facebook likes and 2.6 million Twitter followers.

improve-nonprofit-communicationsWhile the likes of Facebook and Twitter are great front-facing communication tools, they are not so effective for internal communications. On a large scale, they tend to be inflexible, are not all that engaging and are difficult to manage.

Internal communications and the availability of information is a particularly important issue for nonprofits as they often have a large volunteer workforce that is geographically dispersed. Also, their governance structures involving boards and committees as well as stakeholders and employees means that there are diverse information and communication needs all within the one organization.

Finding a single platform that will address all those requirements as well as being cost-effective is a challenge. Or is it? A cloud intranet may well provide a cost-effective solution.

Advantages Of A Cloud Nonprofits Intranet

The business tools offered by a cloud intranet have several benefits including:

  • Increased communication
  • Improved processes and information sharing
  • Better engagement with staff and volunteers
  • Cost-effectiveness and mobile access.

Increased Communication

A cloud intranet is a great enabler of communication and is particularly relevant for organizations and staff members that are in different locations or who work outside the standard office environment.

An intranet home page featuring your top news updates with what’s hot buttons, engaging visuals or videos is a great way to increase communication and knowledge sharing within the organization.

charity-intranet-extranetAccess to information on the intranet can also be controlled by permission rights (which are invisible to the user). In this way, intranet users, be it employees, board members or volunteers, can only see the information that is relevant to them. This negates the need for several slightly different versions of the same email being sent around the organization, or for the endless forwarding of email messages.  There are also savings to be made in the reduction of printing costs as demand for paper copies of documents decreases.

An intranet company calendar highlighting key events, fundraising campaigns or closing dates for funding applications is another great communication tool. Having this information in one place for all users to access is a great time saver and makes life much easier across the organization.

Improved Processes And Information Sharing

We’ve already touched on some of the information sharing aspects above. Another aspect is improved opportunities for collaborative working. The wikis, discussion forums and project areas within the cloud intranet enable and encourage collaborative working across the nonprofit organization. Furthermore, nonprofits can be confident that all information shared on the intranet is secured with the latest SSL encryption technology.

Information can be shared within and across teams. For example, the lessons learned from the successful local fundraising campaign of the California branch of the Alzheimer’s Association can be shared and discussed with colleagues in Oklahoma. Likewise, the successful partnership to distribute food to the needy between the Boston branch of the Salvation Army and a local chain of sandwich bars can be shared in an intranet discussion forum, in a video or a brochure in the document management system.

Similarly, internal processes can be streamlined using the cloud intranet. For example, booking leave, completing an expenses claim or ordering stationery is a much easier process when completed online with a few clicks of the mouse. Again this represents a considerable saving for the nonprofit organization in time and resources and releases funds that could be spent on frontline services.

Furthermore, office space is always at a premium for nonprofits so any opportunities for staff or board members to flexibly work together from home is a real bonus.

Better Engagement With Staff And Volunteers

nonprofit-voluteersStaff and volunteers using the intranet will find it easier to see the bigger picture and will have a better understanding of how their individual contribution makes a difference. Feeling involved, informed and as though their voice counts are important drivers of staff and volunteer engagement. Using the cloud intranet’s interactive tools such as quizzes and surveys, blogs, staff biographies and messaging will improve the levels of engagement, team morale and loyalty to the non-profit organization.

Staff and volunteers of nonprofits are traditionally highly committed and motivated individuals. Maintaining and enhancing that commitment and loyalty is, however, a real possibility with a cloud intranet.

Cost-effectiveness And Mobile Access

Keeping running costs and overheads to an absolute minimum is a priority for nonprofits that rely on donor funding. Cloud intranets offer fixed costs and cost certainty. In addition, many cloud intranet providers offer special pricing plans for non-profit organizations.

Having mobile access for employees or volunteers that are out in the field is another must for nonprofits. Cloud intranets can be accessed remotely using a PC, tablet or smartphone and an internet connection. Staff and volunteers will have access to all the company information they need, 24/7. The ability to work remotely for nonprofits that are looking to reduce office expenses and rental payments is a real benefit.

Cloud Intranets: Making A Difference

What is the cost to you as a nonprofit organization of not having an effective internal business management tool? Inefficient processes, wasted resources, disengaged staff and volunteers, higher staff and volunteer turnover, are all real possibilities.

Also, in the highly competitive world of sponsorships, grants and fundraising being ahead of the game with a cloud intranet is an important advantage.

If you are considering introducing a cloud intranet to your nonprofit organization, contact us at MyHub for a discussion on the possibilities.

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