Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


How Nonprofits Can Solve Challenges With Cloud Technology

Jan 22, 2019
By: Shereen Mahoney

Challenges come from all sides at nonprofit organizations. From regulatory compliance to recruitment and retention to revenue growth, leaders at nonprofit organizations face a high-stress environment. However, you got into this field because you care about the mission — it’s the reason your nonprofit exists, and it’s among the reasons you stick around.

That said, no matter how rewarding your job is, these challenges stack up and will only become more pressing as your organization continues to grow. Today, we would like to look at some of these challenges and discuss how you can make your job easier while increasing your nonprofit’s resilience and adaptability.

Top Challenges for Nonprofits

Managing a growing nonprofit requires a lot of effort — often for little pay. From regulations to revenues, staffing challenges to member recruitment, nonprofits face a multitude of challenges that uniquely present themselves to each organization differently. Whether it’s tax reform’s impact on finding revenue sources, the new regulatory imperatives set to affect nonprofits, the continued pressure to find and keep talent, or continued technological pressures, the bar is set high for your organization.

A recent report from Wipfli sought to find out the most pressing challenges that face nonprofit organizations, regarding priorities and opportunities for growth. This report, the Nonprofit Financial Priorities Benchmark Report, surveyed more than 350 leaders and found that from regulatory compliance to managing growth, the landscape is more challenging than ever.

Knowing this, there are many ways that nonprofits can tackle these challenges — enhancing compliance, improving employee relationships and positioning themselves for more funding opportunities. Today, we would like to explore how technology decisions could reduce the pain that goes into running a successful nonprofit, laying the groundwork for a strong 2019.

How Cloud Technology Answers the Call

When nonprofits think of their technology stack, one of two things often comes to mind: A) a disparate stack of tools and spreadsheets that miraculously work together or B) a system of applications that has been around for longer than you have been at the organization.

However, these applications are holding your nonprofit back, and many nonprofits like yours are finding that cloud technologies are one key step towards comfortable growth. Whether in the form of improved resource management, more stability in pricing or the flexibility and freedom to grow on your terms, those who have made the move know, cloud technology answers the call.

Make the Most of Your Resources

Resource management at nonprofits is an ongoing issue. Donors and grantors expect you to use money in a way that positively impacts the mission. Budgets are tight and the decision to make an investment in technology is a hard sell.

If technology investments are hard sells, consider what you are “saving” if you keep using your current solution. Whether your current software is outdated or undersized, any cost savings is often lost in the form of decreased productivity and visibility.

Worse, with employee retention and recruitment among the top challenges at nonprofits, manual processes and outdated applications may be among the reasons your people leave. Employees want to feel valued, and if most of their time is spent laboring away hand-calculating the numbers, you aren’t providing this. Harder yet, as your organization grows, they will continue spending more and more time on the basics as they edge their way out the door.

Cloud technology brings organizations more power for less cost. By automating processes, employees can refocus their efforts on achieving the mission, giving them an increased sense of value within your organization. Better yet, with advanced reporting, you can better understand and communicate your nonprofit’s outcomes faster and more accurately.

Stability and Predictability

If one thing is constant in the nonprofit landscape, it’s an ongoing lack of certainty that exists. Funding sources could dry up, employees could leave and the regulatory landscape could change. With all of this uncertainty, the cloud brings stability and predictability to customers who use SaaS applications.

Rather than being cornered into capital expenses from the start, lifetime licenses that may or may not get used and dealing with hidden costs that come with managing an internal IT environment, cloud applications offer a predictable pricing environment — an annual charge, often priced per user, that is much easier to predict. Better yet, you get control over how many users you pay for and can change this as needed, bringing us to the third reason nonprofits benefit from the cloud.

Freedom and Flexibility

Stable pricing and knowing your costs is one thing — controlling how much you pay based on what you need is another. As mentioned above, the cloud offers a straightforward pricing model. No longer do you have to plan and buy server capacity for predicted growth. You don’t need to buy perpetual licenses for these needs either.

Built on an annual pricing model, the cloud allows you to add or remove users when and where you need to do so and get pricing to match. Pay for what you need — no more, no less. With this flexibility in tow, you can focus your efforts and assets on your outcomes and not on unused technology.

A Change in the Status Quo: Break With Tradition in 2019

Traditionally, nonprofits are much less aggressive at seeking out new technology. There’s less room for error in decision-making, increased scrutiny over records and books and more need to prove your efforts have a positive effect on outcomes.

Cloud applications for nonprofits have spent the past two decades evolving, answering the needs and addressing the challenges of growing organizations, offering proven technology and better functionality alongside predictable pricing. Today’s cloud applications for nonprofit organizations bring you closer to your goals with less risk and more reward.

We invite you to learn more about the nonprofit push to the cloud by reading our guide, Bringing Finance and Accounting Management Into the Cloud and Into the Future. Additionally, get to know some of the reasons nonprofits like yours choose Sage Intacct by checking out “In the Words of Sage Intacct Nonprofit Customers,” and contact us for a complimentary software needs assessment.


Shereen Mahoney, CPA
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