Earlier this year, NTEN released "The State of the Nonprofit Cloud" report, conducted with the help of Idealware, which was based on surveying constituents of 8 geographically-diverse US state associations of nonprofits and conducting follow-up interviews at the end of 2011.
One of the key findings of the study is that staff email -- the email used by staff of the nonprofit to conduct daily business, as opposed to marketing ("blast") email -- seems to be not only the most prominently used cloud-based software used by US nonprofits, but also is often the first cloud-based software adopted by nonprofits.
Tools like Google Apps and the hosted version of Microsoft Exchange greatly simplify the administration behind providing staff with email and calendaring functionality. Nonprofits are adopting these types of tools with gusto:
69% of our survey respondents reported using staff email functionality accessible via the Internet.
(Note that for some of the smaller organizations, this could also mean staff accounts through more individualized services such as gmail, yahoo or AOl).
The burden of running an in-house email server can overwhelm a small nonprofit. Email server software and hardware can be both expensive and complicated. Keeping a system backed up and maintained requires the services of IT staff with skills in email administration, and the cost of time and materials to upgrade the software or replace hardware can be prohibitive. Contrast this with the cost and convenience of cloud-based email and it’s easy to see why so many people favor the latter.
What’s more, nonprofits have been using these email applications for quite some time (see the graph below). Of the 541 organizations using a hosted staff email solution, 70% adopted it three or more years ago, and 21% have used it for at least one year, and as long as three. Three interviewees specifically mentioned a staff email client—such as Gmail or a hosted version of Microsoft Exchange—as their first cloud solution. A fourth mentioned a broadcast email tool.
Based on this data, it seems that nonprofits are more likely to start using the cloud through email, making services like Gmail and Google Apps a sort of “gateway cloud.”
And you’re invited to learn more, in person!
NTEN will be hosting a free in-person summit for the nonprofit sector in Dallas on November 14th. We’ll gather local nonprofits together as well as experts and tackle the question:
Learn more and register to attend “Nonprofits + Cloud: Technology in the Stratosphere.”
Can’t make it in person to Dallas? No problem, join the livestream event, also free: learn more and reserve your access here.