Nonprofit Excellence on the Cloud

October 22, 2014 Ray Rivera

by Neil Jensen and Ray Rivera


There is hardly a part of our lives that not touched by nonprofit organizations. They provide emergency services in times of distress, disaster, and destitution. Nonprofits facilitate educational access in youth, and professional development opportunities in our career years. Philanthropic nonprofits support scientific research that makes our lives less risky and more fulfilling. Some have assumed the role once held by dukes, barons, and princes as benefactors of the arts. And others arrange for care and permanent homes for our loyal canine companions.

While they are different from business organizations in what they produce, they share many of their same challenges in managing their resources carefully while expanding their operations. Like most business organizations, they rely on an intricate human capital value chain, along with a highly refined business model in order to remain sustainable. At their core, nonprofits are made up of volunteers, donors, employees with a mission, and contributors who want their donations or dues to matter.

Cloud technology puts tremendous resources previously available only to very large organizations into the hands of nonprofit managers. It allows small to medium sized nonprofits to operate on the scale of a much larger organization, thereby assuring that as many incoming dollars as possible get put to work serving the mission.

The cloud provides scale so that nonprofits can reach more donors and volunteers. It enables the kind of mobile presence and user experience that digital consumers now expect of any organization that would engage with them. These same consumers are also the workers that are increasingly attracted to companies that work with nonprofits to provide opportunities to give back.

But don’t just take our word for it. Many nonprofits can sympathize what JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) found themselves facing:

“Our legacy standalone systems never talked to each other, custom apps were difficult to maintain and we were dependent on vendors for everything. To get a 360 degree view of our business it would take us six months to get all the data together and by that time, it was out of date.”

With Appirio as it’s partner, JDRF was able to “run an IT shop in a very low-cost manner and put the requirements on the vendors.” In practice this meant JDRF could organize 5.5 million donor records on a single platform, avoiding duplication of its 5.5 million donor records and facilitating more direct engagement.

Or take the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Constantly challenged to higher standards of excellence, they turned to the cloud to reach a broader audience:

“We’ve been able to redeploy our team, previously dedicated to maintaining our internal systems, to take care of things that are more relevant to the museum…

…From a budgetary perspective, every $100K we get back is money can put into an interactive guide to the museum or a better user experience at We are able to put those dollars to things that are more directly related to what the museum is all about.”

Want to learn more about what nonprofits can really do on the cloud? Join Appirio’s Neil Jensen and Scott Schmidt for an interactive webinar, Nonprofit Operations from Now to Next – Using the Cloud to Improve Operations and Support your Mission on Tuesday, October 28 at 10am PT/1pm ET, where they will  discuss the how nonprofits can use cloud technology to multiply their impact and fulfill their missions, without multiplying costs.

A second broadcast, hosted by the Human Capital Institute will be air on Thursday, November 6 at 10am PT/1pm ET.

Register for the October 28 broadcast here.

Register for the November 6 broadcast here.


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