Small-and medium-sized nonprofits now have the tools to bridge their own digital divides

Originally published by Justin Spelhaug – General Manager, Microsoft Philanthropies

Two years ago, we brought together a team of engineers, philanthropists, sales and business development professionals all with the singular focus to help every nonprofit to transform with technology. Our aim has been to create solutions that are purpose-built for nonprofits to help them both be more efficient operationally and effective programmatically.

The majority of nonprofits around the world each have less than 10 employees. These are often local community organizations on the frontlines of saving lives, providing critical education support in underserved communities, protecting the environment and wildlife, delivering meals to those who need it most, and so many other critical missions. Small nonprofits are at the greatest risk of being left behind in the digital world. Their size, funding and infrastructure do not always accommodate purchasing the latest technology, training their employees on how to use it, employing designated IT staff, or investing in resources to keep their organization secure. In fact, a study from Microsoft found that 60 percent of nonprofits report having no organizational digital policy to manage cybersecurity risk, and 74 percent do not take critical security steps to ensure email accounts are not compromised.

As a result, many small nonprofits are missing out on modern collaboration tools and operational efficiencies in the cloud that can create greater value. Due to limited capacity, outdated solutions are often deployed that offer limited security, leaving small nonprofits — and their beneficiary and donor data — vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks from hackers who see them as an easy mark. The consequences of this are real: If nonprofits don’t have cybersecurity practices in place, their data is at risk, especially for nonprofits based in high-risk areas where factors such as war and geo-politics are at play.

For smaller nonprofits to make the greatest impact on their missions, they must have easy access to technology and the ability to effectively utilize it. Microsoft takes a three-pronged approach by offering the latest best-in-class cloud technology, nonprofit-specific solutions to improve efficiency and impact, and by supporting digital literacy to improve adoption and usage of this technology through digital skills trainings with resources specific to the sector’s unique challenges and needs. We believe all three pieces of this puzzle are equally important to bridge the digital divide and propel nonprofit organizations forward.

Today, we are rolling out a series of solutions designed for the smallest nonprofits to help bridge the technological gap and help every nonprofit move to the cloud, including:

  • Microsoft 365 Business for Nonprofits offer: Available today, we are providing up to 10 donated seats of our integrated cloud solution Microsoft 365 Business that brings together the best-in-class productivity of Office 365 (including Office desktop applications), Windows Professional, and advanced security and device management capabilities to help nonprofits securely run and grow their organizations. Nonprofits can obtain additional seats for just $5 per additional user per month. Through our Microsoft partner ecosystem around the world, we’ll be fueling scale and the ability for every nonprofit to move to the cloud.

  • Microsoft’s Digital Skills Center for Nonprofits: Available now, the Microsoft Digital Skills Center for Nonprofits, in partnership with TechSoup, is a one-stop learning path platform full of product training and skill-building content to help nonprofits successfully use technology. New content and courses are being added regularly.

  • Microsoft Nonprofit Operations Toolkit: Available Oct. 1, exclusively through our cloud solution partners, Nonprofit Operations Toolkit built on Power Platform helps small nonprofits implement effective project and awards management processes that reduce costs and build trust with funders. It is an out-of-the box solution using Power Platform and consists of purpose-built PowerApps, Flow, cloud storage and Excel.

With these new resources, small- and medium-sized nonprofit organizations can now realize the benefits of digital transformation and cloud technology to achieve their missions and drive real-world impact. Organizations like Meals on Wheels of Greenville County, South Carolina are saving money and driving greater impact with Microsoft 365.

“I can’t overstate how grateful I am for Microsoft 365. With our operations in the cloud, we can focus on what we do best, which is deliver meals to those in need,” says Denise Powell, director of projects and facilities for Meals on Wheels of Greenville County.

Through our Digital Skills Center for Nonprofits, organizations can share 15 courses available today centered around Microsoft’s core productivity tools — Teams, Word, Excel and PowerPoint — courses on-demand for their staff members, providing professional development to further their digital fluency and help them better use technology as a tool to fuel organizational efficiencies and impact.

“Together, we are helping to build digital capacity for more nonprofits actively tackling critical challenges around the world while making an impact on the issues they care about most,” says Rebecca Masisak, TechSoup CEO.  “Having these new courses available will be a game changer for digital nonprofit transformation as organizations address a real gap in skills.”

And we are working with nonprofits like Health Alliance International on their digital transformation of centralized operations using the nonprofit operations toolkit so they can focus on their mission to strengthen public health systems in countries like Côte d’Ivoire and Mozambique in Africa, and Timor-Leste in Southeast Asia.

We are continuously pursuing new innovations to unlock nonprofit productivity, such as our partnership with LinkedIn for Nonprofits, to develop products that will help nonprofits leverage modern workplace collaboration tools to connect nonprofits with the right donors, constituents and talent. Building on these offers, and in conjunction with our partners, we look forward to strengthening our support so every nonprofit can raise more money, increase efficiencies and deliver the services on which their beneficiaries depend.

At Microsoft, we are committed to learning how to better serve this sector each day and evolving our social business model to help move nonprofit missions forward and drive social good. And driving that deeper impact can be furthered with our best-in-class productivity tools in a secured cloud environment for every nonprofit.

Visit at https://microsoft.com/nonprofits to learn more or connect with a partner at https://microsoft.com/nonprofits/partners.

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