If your nonprofit or association has been slow to adopt the latest in cloud computing, here are some thoughts on how to best present cloud technology concerns related to security and usability; along with some cloud computing pros and cons.

Security

A chief concern for nonprofit or association management is securely storing the data related to the constituents they serve.  However, once that data no longer resides on servers housed by the organization and that data goes to the cloud, physical protection of it becomes more problematic. Since the data is no longer “in-house,” but trusted to a third-party provider, the responsibility for securing data becomes shared. The provider is responsible for ensuring the infrastructure is secure and their clients’ data and applications are protected. The organization is also responsible for protecting their applications, as well as for implementing strong authentication measures, such as difficult to expose passwords.

For international organizations, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (EU GDPR) for data protection and privacy provides for additional measures to ensure data is used according to the reason it was collected. This protection applies for individuals within the EU’s sphere of influence and related economic areas.

Usability

Another major concern for nonprofit or association management is the ability of the organization’s constituency to learn and use a cloud-based computing platform. With the advent of data becoming accessible from any location that has some means of a bandwidth connection, smart phone and tablet use has risen as a means of staying connected to one’s business.

As younger workers enter the workforce and older workers retire, the more cloud-computing savvy constituent will continue to become more the norm and less the anomaly.

Pros

A major benefit of cloud-based computing is it frees up your nonprofit or association resources to focus more on their mission and less on the maintenance required to keep your server infrastructure up and running.

Additionally, the need to upgrade your data storage technology to the latest version is handled by your provider, eliminating the need to perform periodic onsite upgrades.

Cons

A user base that is unfamiliar with cloud-based computing may find the learning curve somewhat frustrating and may be left wondering why good enough couldn’t be left alone.

Also, the loss of control of data servers may not be an option for some organizations that require those servers not be connected outside of the organization’s intranet to the internet.

Conclusion

Balancing the necessity to meet the computing needs of your current constituency with the fast approaching needs of your near-future constituency can be a daunting task.

Given that technological progress and eventual adoption tends to incessantly move ever forward, perhaps you may want to consider giving your nonprofit or association a gentle nudge towards the clouds, where you and your constituents can slip the surly bonds of earth and dance the skies on laughter-silvered wings.