If you’re in the market for new software to help manage your organization, look to the cloud. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms continue to explode in number and popularity, offering innovative solutions to serve organizations in virtually every industry. Nonprofits especially are finding SaaS offerings that help them operate more efficiently, making it easier to carry out their missions. To help you evaluate the many nonprofit management software options currently available to you, consider the following.
What You Want From Your Nonprofit Management Software
Knowing exactly what you expect to get from a software platform will help immensely as you search for one. By understanding your organization’s administrative and operational pain points, you’ll be able to narrow down the extensive volume of options. If you’re focused on fundraising, you’ll want your solution to simplify grant funding by providing quick and easy access to the reports you need for applications to grant providers. Whatever your organization’s greatest needs are must dictate its software of choice.
Nonprofit management software comes in such a variety that it’s easy to lose track of what matters: your organization’s mission. Let this guiding influence inform your judgment as you weigh what’s right for your teams, your leadership, and those whom your organization serves. Naturally, ease of use and affordability are key considerations when shopping for any new software. Beyond these must-haves, three qualities stand out as essential for whichever nonprofit management software you choose to have: accessibility, security, and configurability.
Unless everyone in your organization works at the same location every day, on-premise software may be insufficient for its needs. Cloud-based software is accessed online, so you can access it remotely with an internet connection without having to download anything. Platforms that have application programming interface (API) connectivity help you increase their accessibility by making integration with other software easy. The possibility of working from anywhere with seamless interoperability between different software programs is a notable strength of cloud-based platforms.
SaaS providers eliminate the need for lengthy downloads, allowing for real-time access to your system by workers in the field. The bane of digital storage issues also evaporates, making for a more streamlined experience than with other nonprofit management software. As remote employment trends continue to expand their reach, online accessibility of information systems becomes a greater imperative not just for nonprofits, but for any organization seeking to function seamlessly as a team without being confined to a single location.
Although on-premise platforms may have been given a reputation for being more secure than software in the cloud, you can achieve a comparable level of cybersecurity with each option. Whatever your choice — either on-premise or cloud-based solutions — each can provide the security your organization needs. As cybersecurity advancements accelerate, more nonprofits are adopting online SaaS solutions to take advantage of their convenience without sacrificing cybersecurity.
Regulatory frameworks like SOC and HIPAA establish critical guidelines for ensuring privacy through data security, setting stringent standards for compliance. Your nonprofit management software should offer the controls necessary to meet or exceed the standards identified in the regulations of any relevant frameworks, on top of any other cybersecurity needs specific to your organization. Given the demand for online software that offers robust security, SaaS providers continue to boost their cybersecurity offerings and credentials.
Understanding the distinction between configuration and customization is crucial when looking for your nonprofit management software. Your organization’s unique identity makes it challenging to find the right platform to suit its needs from among widely available options, like many CRM and ERP systems. That’s where configuring and customizing come in. They differ in a few ways, not the least of which is cost, with customizations typically carrying much more in terms of time and money.
Configurable software is built with a baseline level of capability tailored for a particular sector, providing some control in shaping the platform to meet your organization’s requirements. Configurability enables you to adjust preloaded functionality in a user-friendly way that’s designed to help organizations conform software to align with their needs. Without the ability to easily configure your platform, you may have to adapt your processes to suit a new system if you want to avoid paying for an expensive customization.
Narrowing Down Your Options
As you seek the ideal solution for your organization, stay mindful of the key differences between on-premise and cloud-based software. The enhanced accessibility of online SaaS has contributed to a full-on migration to the cloud as remote employment surges. Nonprofits, in particular, see enormous benefit from this digital transformation as many struggle to stay current with recent technological advancements.
Rather than simply choosing the most popular option or paying for pricey customized software, however, it’s advisable that you judge each potential solution by its merits. In addition to accessibility, robust security and easy configurability are essential components of an effective software platform for your nonprofit. Striking the right balance between these elements, as well as affordability and ease of use, will be of primary importance as you make a decision for your organization.
To learn more about choosing and implementing nonprofit management software, you can read about it here.