Is your nonprofit or association struggling with the question of whether to take your constituent tracking computing system from a standalone desktop environment to the latest in cloud technology? Perhaps a review of the pros and cons concerning cloud computing can help answer this question.

First, let’s consider the pros:

Modern Approach

  • Latest Software Release: Running software as a service (SaaS) in the cloud guarantees your nonprofit or association is using the latest version of the application.
  • Increased Productivity: Cloud computing reduces of the size of needed onsite resources, including data servers and the staff needed to maintain them.
  • ‘Round-the-Clock Availability: Cloud computing vendors have become very reliable, often boasting nearly 100 percent uptime.
  • Flexibility: Simply contact your SaaS service vendor as your computing needs change to right-size your computing environment.

Global Reach

  • Go Mobile: Your nonprofit or association staff can be productive, no matter where they are, just so long as they have a smartphone or tablet with internet access.
  • Teamwork: Collaborate across town or across the globe with access to shared files stored in the cloud.

Money Smart

  • Business Cost: Pay for only the cloud and SaaS services needed to run your association or nonprofit.
  • Overall Cost: Save money by not having to purchase, maintain, and upgrade costly onsite computer software and hardware.
  • Control Costs: Structure your cloud and SaaS computing costs to meet the current demands of your nonprofit or association.

And now let’s consider the cons:

Property Protection

  • Intellectual Property: Beware of cyber-criminals who use data breaches to access sensitive company data or service providers who lay claim to files stored in their cloud service.
  • Employee Actions: Unscrupulous employees may take advantage of cloud technology for personal gain at their unwitting employer’s expense by downloading sensitive data for use elsewhere.

Legal Issues

  • Compliance: Running afoul of regulatory body guidelines, such as Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI) or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by storing sensitive data in the cloud.
  • Contracts: Storing confidential information in the cloud can violate a contract agreement, especially if your cloud service provider claims the right to share that data with a third party.

Criminal Activity

  • Malware: As data storage and its protection become more sophisticated so do the criminals and the techniques they use to acquire that stored data.
  • Data Breaches: The loss of sensitive data can trigger a plethora of unwanted consequences, such as mandatory disclosure of the loss, fines from regulatory agencies, and lawsuits initiated by those affected by the data loss.

Constituent Service

  • Loss of Customer Trust: Loss of data can result in the loss of constituent trust, which may never be regained.
  • Loss of Revenue: Loss of constituent trust can result in the loss of constituents, which will negatively affect an organization’s bottom line.

Be sure to consider any actions you can take to mitigate some potentially negative circumstances, such as being aware if your cloud service provider has a third-party sharing or data ownership clause.

Ultimately, it is up to your organization’s leaders to decide if the benefits of going to the cloud outweigh the liabilities of doing so for your unique organization.